If there is a hell on earth these days, it’s La Guardia Airport.
For Jenn Cohn Falik, a flight there the other day turned exponentially worse than even most travelers’ nightmares.
But then an unlikely hero emerged.
The 1997 Staples High School graduate — who moved back here 5 years ago — and her family had just finished a 5-night cruise, celebrating her mom’s birthday. (Read all about it here, on Jenn’s great blog!)
Arriving at the Orlando airport “ridiculously early,” they found their flight was delayed 3 hours. So Jenn and her girls made the best of the next 7 hours in the terminal.
When they finally boarded, they endured a very rough flight. The plane circled for an hour over Virginia, trying to wait out a storm and heavy traffic at LGA.
Fuel was getting low. Controllers wanted to divert the flight to JFK. (I know; don’t ask.) But bad weather there caused a diversion to Bradley, in Hartford.
Jenn was in constant contact (“yay for JetBlue’s WiFi!”) with Frank Pataky. He owns the airport driving service that was supposed to pick her up.
“In between hyperventilating and trying not to cry in front of my kids every time we hit a bump, I was texting Frank with updates, and he was communicating with his driver,” Jenn reports.
“When I told him we were going to Hartford, he knew his driver would never make it. He could probably tell from my doomsday texts that I was in a fragile state, and 3 hours waiting at Hartford would not have turned out well.”
So Frank went to Jenn’s house, got their 2nd car, put car seats in and headed north himself.
The plane landed. But — this is the state of air travel in the US these days — passengers were told they had to stay on the plane. It was being refueled — for a flight back to La Guardia.
Jenn texted Frank. She said there was NO WAY!!!! she was staying on the plane for another minute.
He pulled off in New Haven, to see if she could talk her way off the plane.
She could. And she did.
Her girls and she were escorted onto the tarmac. They rode to the terminal in the truck bringing fuel and paperwork to the pilot.
Jenn texted Frank from the runway. He drove to Bradley, and picked up 3 very tired, very cranky girls (“one age 2, one age 6, one age 38”).
He offered to stop so they could get dinner. They just wanted to get home.
Finally — one bathroom stop, and one frantic call to Jordan’s to order a large salad pizza, later — they were in Westport. It was 9:30 p.m.
But Frank’s day was not done. He helped Jenn get the girls and bags inside.
“We were all in one piece. And we felt much more relaxed, thanks to his understanding and patience!”
You go, Frank!
(Jenn didn’t ask, but I’m happy to provide contact info for Frank Pataky. His phone number is 203-767-1083.)