Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Misadventures that Didn't Keep Us Down

After carefully planning out my journey to Washington DC via NYC. I was to fly on Southwest, rent a car from Enterprise and have the most rewarding stay in Staten Island, NY before heading out with two friends to Washington DC for the rally.

Starting out on 9/30/10 at 3:30am, my day started with a shuttle ride to the airport. My plane left DIA on time without a hitch, upon arrival in BWI (Baltimore Maryland to change planes) we were in for the shock of our lives. Our connecting flight to LGA (LaGuardia Airport) on Long Island had been canceled due to weather. The Southwest desks were crowded with people determined to get out to any destination near NY. My next available flight out was at 8:40am on 10/1/10.

After considering my options, which were rent a car and drive to NY, take a bus which would have landed me in Manhattan or postpone picking up my rental car at LaGuardia, getting a hotel room for the night and leaving on the next flight the next day. I opted for the hotel and departure on 10/1/10.

Please note that if you are ever on a flight that is canceled due to weather - your airline will NOT put you up in a hotel, it's your responsibility.

That night at the MicroTel, there was a shuttle provided to and from any local restaurant for dinner. Of course, I took advantage of that, then went back to my clean and comfortable room for a good nights sleep at 8pm. Made arrangements for a wake up call at 6am and a shuttle ride back to the airport to catch my 8:40am flight.

If being delayed overnight wasn't enough, to add insult, my flight was delayed further to 11:15am. Many exhausted people boarded the plane and as we departed BWI, I gave a clap of my hands in applause for the swift takeoff.

Arriving at LaGuardia, there was no problem in picking up the rental car then finding my way to my awaiting friends in Staten Island. Thank you to the person who invented GPS for the car! At 2pm, exhausted and stressed, I arrived, packed the car, loaded up my passengers and by 2:30pm we were on our way again. The drive from Staten Island to Washington DC was gorgeous. It was a bright and sunny day which was excellent for driving.

We arrived at our hotel at 6:30pm. The Washington Hilton is highly recommended for anyone staying in DC near Dupont Circle. We were greeted by the most helpful and efficient Hilton employees. Parking the car and checking in was a breeze.

In advance of our trip, we purchased discount certificates for close by restaurants. We highly recommend Maddy's Bar and Grill, the food and service were excellent and it's within walking distance of the Hilton.

Bright and early on 10/2/10, we were awake and showered, ready for the long day in DC. With directions in hand and the GPS set, we took off for the RFK Stadium where I would give my speech as a UCubed Jobs Activist at 9:15am.

On our way to the stadium, and going right along with the way my trip started, we had a flat tire on the rental car. At least we had arrived at our destination with 15 minutes to spare. I called Enterprises Roadside Assistance who assured me that someone would be out to fix/change the tire within 1 hour. Thankfully, I was able to give my speech and meet some very awesome people. At 10:30am, we hadn't seen the Roadside assistance person, so I called them back. Being a very detailed person, I mentioned that we were in LOT 4 at RFK Stadium four times as well as giving an exact description of where the car was and all the vehicle detail. The man from Roadside was in LOT 3. Sheesh! He finally changed the tire to the spare which was a donut and when I complained about the donut, he told me that I could drive 600 miles at 60 mph on it. Well we all know that was a blatant lie. This is when more stress began. After many calls and a total of two and a half hours on the phone to Enterprise locations in Washington DC and to the location where I rented the car in NY, they agreed to give me a new car so that I wouldn't have to drive back to NY on the donut. I had to call Roadside when I was back at the hotel and in for the night to trade cars.

It was decided that we go back to our hotel, grab something for lunch, then make our way via taxi to the National Mall and catch the remaining time there at the rally. Everything there went smoothly. While walking to the point where we could hail a taxi back to the hotel, we met some really nice folks in particular a man who was from Brooklyn, NY covering the rally on the mall for his local newspaper.

Upon arrival back to the hotel, it was decided that we would take the car and go see some sites such as the White House and Capitol and take some pictures, then go back to the hotel and ready ourselves for dinner. We did get as close as we could to the White House to take pictures but never made it to the Capitol or the Lincoln Memorial for up close pictures. Yet, we know where the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) offices are as we passed them about 5 times! Back to the hotel, we all climbed back into the car and left for dinner. We went past many older homes, the whole area was so historic. We arrived back at the hotel again at 9pm. Now you will remember, the rental still has the donut tire on it and I have to call Roadside to arrange a swap of cars.

To make a longer story short, Roadside made the arrangements telling me that a confirmation call should be expected within 15 minutes. Yes, you guessed it - no phone call. Upon calling them back, someone there canceled my swap because - sit down and hang on - it was too far to drive another car from LAGUARDIA in NY! After fighting for over an hour to get a supervisor to handle this correctly, I'm informed that Dulles & Reagan Enterprise locations are now closed. I insist that they get me a car no matter where they have to get it from. Time now: 11:20pm. A promise was made by the supervisor that the swap car would be to the hotel within an hour. At 12:10am, I go outside the main entrance of the hotel and sat waiting. Another call to Roadside to make certain that the swap would happen no later than 12:30am as promised. At 1:30am, the man who is bringing the swap car calls and has arrived. Because no one was available to DRIVE a swap car to me, they sent it via tow truck! Apparently, after talking to the driver, he wasn't going to drive the rental with the donut tire. Wonder why? By 2am, I was back up to my room, but the key card wouldn't work and because I didn't want to wake my friends, downstairs I went to obtain another one. Finally, sleep!

Checking out of the Hilton Washington was as easy as checking in. By 11:30am, we were on our way back to NY. During the drive, I made a phone call to Enterprise to express my displeasure. Most of the day that was supposed to be spent siteseeing was interrupted by getting another car to drive. Since the branch manager wasn't in, I had to call back the next day. You bet everything was documented from who I spoke with and all the time frames. The rest of the trip back to Staten Island was excellent except for the rain. All the luggage was unpacked, we ordered dinner. My dear friend made my stay in Staten Island one of the best. Thank you Sheri for your generous hospitality.

Time to go home to Denver. No, folks, the saga continues. It took 1 hour to go 11 miles in the rain and traffic on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (more like a parking lot). Arriving at the Enterprise drop off point, I actually sighed a sigh of relief. Meeting with the branch manager and his assistant, I read off everything that we had been through from the morning of 10/2/10 to the morning of 10/3/10. At this point, my rental car bill went from $289 down to $100. What else could he do for me, the crazed women standing in front of him. This was my first consumer win for the trip.

I was shuttled to LaGuardia Airport, and upon checking in I noticed that my Southwest flight from LaGuardia connecting in Chicago to Denver is delayed. Here we go again! Instead of leaving just after 6pm, we left around an hour or so later. I was able to board the plane early to sit in the front row, aisle seat. This gave me an advantage of making it to my connecting flight and arriving in Denver at 11pm. While in flight, the flight attendant assured me that my connecting flight would be waiting. For those of you who have already guessed, the Chicago to Denver flight left four of us stranded in Chicago Midway Airport. Frustrated, we backtracked to a desk where some Southwest employees were. They told us that was the last flight out and that nothing was open in the airport. We could, if we wanted, go to Concourse C to sleep in "cot city". There was no way that we could exit the airport and be able return into the airport until 4am when security was opened for the next day. They lied! We found a bar that served drinks, coffee and FOOD! Yes, their names were logged in my book too. Two of us set out to check out the airport and at 3:30am decided to get some sleep by our departing gate.

The plane left on time - 6am - and we were finally on our way home. But it doesn't end here. Arriving at DIA, we went to the luggage carousel only to find that my luggage was lost, 2 gals received their luggage, and the other had one suitcase waiting for her but the other one was lost. No one could tell us where in the system our luggage was. We left the airport to await a call from Southwest when they found our luggage and when it would be delivered. A phone call was received at 11:00am saying that I would have my luggage at 12:30pm. True to their word, it was delivered.

I wrote to Southwest about their employees and the treatment that we received at Chicago Midway. Within 20 days, I received a voucher for $140.40 to reimburse me for the segment from LaGuardia to Denver. Another consumer win!

Even though there were so many obstacles that tried to keep us down, we still had a decent time together in DC.

The big questions - Will I rent from Enterprise and fly Southwest again? You bet I will! They both treated me right and made up for the problems by rewarding me financially. Of course, it didn't make up for the night lost in Staten Island and the cost of the hotel room in Baltimore but all in all, I'm happy with the results.



1 comment:

  1. ROTFLMAO!!!! U forgot we rode shot gun to RFK LOL, we first landed in Chalupa Land, we had to pee! And yes I highly recommend the Washington Hilton Hotel; Excellent hotel. Matty is a guarantee. Poor Iris, she slept the whole way down. We had such a GREAT time I would do it again in a heart beat. I would not rent a car from Enterprise. AND most of all you did not get to eat the meatball hero on Thursday Evening!!!