Muli Ben-Yehuda's journal

July 17, 2004

OLS BLOG 2004 Day 1 – EWR Can Eat My Shorts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Muli Ben-Yehuda @ 3:37 AM

The remainder of the flight to Newark was uneventful. People were waking up, and the traffic to and from the lavatories was considerably annoying, as every single one of them had to brush up against me – or so it seemed. I had ample time to further develop my anti-social tendencies. Except for doing that, I read a bit, hit the keys on the laptop semi-randomly a bit, and waited for the 11 hours and 30 minutes flight to be over already! Orna, on the other hand, slept. Good for her.

Then we landed at EWR, also known as Newark Airport, just outside of New York, also known now as the airport from hell. To understand what follows, you have to know two simple facts. We landed at 5 AM, disoriented and jet-lagged. We also had a 7:30 AM connecting flight to Boston.

It all started with one small, innocent mistake. After leaving baggage claim, a paltry 45 minutes after landing, the guy who stood at the entrance to the “connecting flights” area kept telling people that only people on our flight who are proceeding to Miami should go there. The rest should head over to the other terminals for their flights. Sounds reasonable, thought we, and proceeded by monorail to Terminal B.

In Terminal B, madness ensued. There were lines of teeming people everywhere. The signs made no sense. Each person we asked for information gave us an answer that contradicted what the previous person said. By this time, 6;30 AM, they were also telling us we had no chance of making our 7:30 flight. Eventually, after running across the considerably-sized terminal several times, we found the place to check in our baggage. Then we started looking for a place to get a boarding pass. That turned out to be the first class lines. Which were very long. And not moving. Unlike the hands of Orna’s watch.

At this point, we were resigned to missing our flight, and our luggage, which was already checked in to a flight we weren’t going to make. We were sweaty, disheveled, annoyed, and on the verge of panic. We wondered if they will they blow the luggage up when we don’t show up to the flight? We decided to ask one more person for help, to stop our baggage from getting blow up. This person, an unnamed Continental employee, was our savior. She whisked us through lines, she got us our boarding passes by moving up to the head of the queue, she got us through security in record time, and to the entrance to the gate area. It was 7:20 by this time. She told us that we better run if we want to make our flight, and disappeared. We don’t know her name, but if we did, we would be sending a very nice letter to Continental management on her behalf, asking that she get a raise. She sure as hell deserves one.

So there we were, at the entrance to the gate area, with barely five minutes to spare. We ran. Thank god for PNS training, or I think I would’ve barfed, fainted, or both. This gate was FAR. As it was, I made it to the gates just a few seconds after Orna, even more sweaty and annoyed than I was before, if that was possible.

The flight attended looked at our tickets, and said that there’s only one here, yours, Ma’am, and where’s yours, Sir? Don’t you have a blue Continental package? I’m sorry, but I cannot let you board the plane without a ticket. Nothing we said helped. I showed her all of my tickets (I have quite a lot of them for this trip, in several different bundles, all of which look alike), but neither she nor we could find the ticket, and nothing we said could persuade her. After several minutes of this back and forth, she left us and closed the door leading to the plane behind her. We resigned ourselves to beginning the entire ordeal of getting on a Boston flight in this mad airport from the beginning, and this time with a missing ticket, too. As we were turning to leave, Orna took a last look at the tickets and realized that we’ve had my ticket all along, as well as her. The attendant kept looking at our two tickets and seeing only one. Furrfu! Arrrgh!

We shouted to the other attendant to STOP THAT PLANE. Quite loudly, I’m afraid. She turned to us in shock, looked at our tickets, opened the door and led us to the plane.

After that, it was all comparatively smooth sailing. Murphy was having a field day. First they wouldn’t give our boarding pass stubs, which we needed for the expense accounts. Then, it turned out that the plane wasn’t going anywhere – the fscking captain was missing! eventually, the captain was located and the plane took off – at 8:15 or so. So much for running down Newark airport to catch our 7:30 flight.

Next – hotel@MIT rocks!


  1. Memories from a flight which I had several years ago
    Your story stirred in me memories of a flight which I had 20 years ago.
    At the time I worked for Intel in Haifa, and I was sent to Silicon Valley and Beaverton sites to check if we can reuse a part of a chip in our design (the answer was affirmative).
    When it was time to fly back to Israel, I had a flight from Portland (Oregon) to New York, and then from New York to Frankfurt and Israel. I was supposed to have two hours from landing to take-off in JFK airport in New York. This would have been OK.
    Unfortunately, the airline, which flew me from Portland to New York, had ElAlesque behavior, and by the time they landed, the time interval dwindled to half hour or so, as the second airline was Lufthansa, which was to take off on time (German precision).
    I landed, and ran from one terminal to another terminal – fortunately, I figured out the exact path to take, so no time was wasted. I elbowed my way through and got to Lufthansa’s check-in just as the flight was being closed. I wasted about two minutes explaining to the attendant that I want to get into THIS flight, rather than wait for another flight.
    With my pass, there was another mad rush – the distance from the check-in to the boarding terminal was large. But I did get on the airplane.
    My luggage did not make it with me. But since I stayed with my parents in Jerusalem after landing, my luggage actually arrived at Haifa before me.
    My story is more boring than yours, because it was the 1980’s, and Americans had somewhat higher IQ then.

    Comment by tddpirate — July 16, 2004 @ 10:38 PM | Reply

    • Re: Memories from a flight which I had several years ago
      I think I can officially proclaim that I hate flying. Unfortuanately, it’s the only reaosnable way to get to some interesting places.

      Comment by mulix — July 19, 2004 @ 4:00 AM | Reply

  2. “It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression ‘as pretty as an airport'”.
    – Opening sentence for Douglas Adam’s “The long dark tea-time of the soul”.

    Comment by yrk — July 17, 2004 @ 2:11 AM | Reply

    • I wonder if it’s a coincidence that there were 42 counters.

      Comment by mulix — July 19, 2004 @ 4:01 AM | Reply

  3. animal sweat, we perspire ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by ideawerkz — July 17, 2004 @ 2:18 AM | Reply

    • Maybe you perspire, but after running the whole width of the EWR airport a few times, I sweat ๐Ÿ™‚

      Comment by mulix — July 19, 2004 @ 4:02 AM | Reply

  4. Several corrections
    The woman who helped us in the end had a black coat. Every time we tried getting help before that, we talked to redcoats (and were directed to redcoats). It appears that redcoats do not have the authority to solve a problem, they are only allowed to recite regulations.
    The plane was delayed for way over an hour. this means it took off after the next scheduled flight (Boston-Newark flights leave every hour, like a bus). So it made me think about the proposal we got earlier, to get a seat on a later flight…
    The terminal was not B, but C. B is rather small, and intended for international flights. I passed through B today, and had another mix-up:
    the luggage came out in the wrong carousel. Everybody was waiting forever, and only empty boxes came out. Suddenly, I noticed my tiny suitcase on another carousel. Actually, I saw my big suitcase as well, but said to myself that there are many of those. But I am certain I am the only one who has checked in a bag of 4 Kg.
    In any case, only when I noticed my tiny suitcase and told the rest of the people from the plane, did they get their luggage.

    Comment by ladypine — July 26, 2004 @ 4:59 AM | Reply

    • Re: Several corrections
      With regards to the sit on the next flight, the 0830 was full, we could’ve gotten one on the 0930. But then our luggage would’ve gotten messed up for sure, so I don’t think it would’ve been worth it.
      > In any case, only when I noticed my tiny suitcase and told the rest of the people from the plane, did they get their luggage.
      So the little thing is actually useful for something!

      Comment by mulix — July 27, 2004 @ 6:54 PM | Reply

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