Oh, Lord, Stuck in White Plains Again!

I thought I was being smart by combining two trips into one — I had to be in Westchester County this week anyway for the IBM Academy of Technology Technology Council meeting, and I thought I’d add a visit to Lotus near Boston. It’s an easy 3.5 hour drive.

Unless it’s snowing.

This morning, I excused myself from the meeting a few minutes early so I could take off for Boston. It was snowing steadily but not too heavily (I didn’t need a scraper to get anything off the car, brushing it off with my gloves was adequate and easy), so I hoped I’d be able to make good time.

On my way up the Saw Mill River Parkway, I saw three accidents (all in the southbound lanes; I was going North). But the roads weren’t too bad, and I was able to drive about 45 mph and feel confident doing it.

Then I got onto I-684. The road was unplowed (I don’t think more than an inch of snow had fallen yet), and traffic was slow. People were driving 25-30 mph and they were drifting all over the road. And the snow was falling more heavily — I was having a hard time keeping my windshield clear.

So I decided to punt on the trip to Boston and called one of the people I was to meet; she was sorry I couldn’t make it but agreed to let everyone else know. Then I got off the freeway to turn around and head back to White Plains airport. Getting off the freeway was easy; making the left turn onto the cross-street was easy; stopping at the traffic light before getting back onto the freeway was not easy. I’d never felt ABS working before; fortunately, I knew what the pulsing in the brake pedal meant and didn’t panic. And after a few seconds, the car stopped, and I was then able to make the left turn and go south.

I was a scofflaw; I called the travel agent to get rebooked while I was moving. I wasn’t moving very fast, but the pavement was somewhat clearer on the southbound side. And after just a couple of minutes, I was rebooked on a flight leaving White Plains at 12:58pm; it was only 10:30, and I was only 10 miles away from the airport, so things looked good.

The trip to the airport was uneventful, and I didn’t even see any more accidents. I was in the Hertz lot at 11, and at the counter at 11:05. But by that time, American had cancelled the 12:58, and I was booked on the 2:58.

So I waited. And had lunch. And waited. And read the newspaper (two of them). And waited. There doesn’t appear to be any way to connect a computer to the Internet at White Plains, at least not without paying 50 cents a minute to use a special phone — and I’ve never seen anyone use those special phones. I didn’t, either.

2:21 arrived, and the incoming plane was due to land. It landed, but there were no gates available (White Plains is a small airport). Eventually, they gave up waiting for a gate with a jetway, and they brought steps over to the plane and let people off about 3:15. They let us on at 4:00.

We de-iced while the runways were being plowed; we pushed back around 4:45, got to the end of the runway, and waited. After a time, the pilot came on and said we hadn’t quite made the window for using the runway, because a private plane had landed and had skidded off the runway, so it was closed until they could tow it away and plow the runway again (the same thing had happened earlier in the day, when it had been snowing very heavily).

At 6, the pilot told us that the news was “not good”, that the private plane was still there, and that we were going back to the gate. An agent boarded and told us that we could get off and go into the terminal to eat but only if we took all of our stuff, and that there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to make it back onto the plane in time to leave with it. Oh, and that the earliest departure time was now 7.

That meant that I had no chance of making my connection in Chicago, and that I was unlikely to make the last flight of the night, either. So I called my travel agent to see if they could find me a room in White Plains (I had had one earlier, but I cancelled it when I got on the plane at 4pm. Oops). The Crowne Plaza had one, but it would cost $173 (compared to my $79 rate at the Hilton that I’d given up). They also had a much less expensive room in Norwalk, but it was 30 minutes away in good weather.

I took the room at the Crowne Plaza.

And here I am. I spent the first hour here talking to the travel agent and American to make sure I was properly booked for tomorrow’s flights, and then I wanted to go out to eat. But everything’s closed due to the snow (including the big mall across the street), so I ordered room service. If I’d known how long it would take me with the travel agent and American, I would have ordered food first (that’s not a complaint — they were very busy and very helpful). But now I’ve got food in my belly and I’m comfortable.

The weather’s supposed to be better tomorrow.


The flight I was on [briefly] still hasn’t taken off. According to flight tracking info, it looks like it pushed back at least once and turned back (American claimed it had left at 8:08, but it currently shows up as still being on the ground, and the FAA says White Plains is still closed).