Because we had so much trouble finding a taxi to the airport on our last cruise from New York, we purchased transport from Carnival when we booked the cruise. As part of the purchase, I carefully entered all the information about our flight on the Carnival website. I assumed that I was doing this so the transport would correspond to our flight requirements. I understood that we would probably share the bus/van with other travelers who were leaving at about the same time. Silly me...
Our flight was scheduled for 2pm and it can take an hour to drive to LaGuardia through the heavy Manhattan traffic. But the ship insisted that we had to get off at 7:45 or we would miss the shuttle. And so we did. When we found the meeting spot the gentleman with the sign said that the van wouldn't arrive until 9am at the earliest and would probably leave at 9:45. While we found the waiting frustrating, the folks with morning flights were even more frustrated. Two women left to get a taxi, forfeiting the exorbitant fee they had paid for the transfer. More passengers arrived to wait. It was hot and there was nowhere to sit. Eventually a van arrived to take a few folks to Kennedy airport. There were ten of us left who wanted to go to LGA.
When our van arrived it held five of us with luggage. Lots of pushing and shoving ensued. Eventually the man with the sign told the family of five they would have to wait for another van. We hope it came.
At the airport we settled down for a lengthy wait. About the time the plane was supposed to arrive, we were told that the plane had not left from Chicago yet. No explanation given. When it finally did land late in the afternoon, a gentle shower started. As we boarded the frustrated voice of the pilot came on, letting us know that this was rush hour at LaGuardia and there were 35 planes waiting to take off ahead of us. At best they take off every two minutes.
After recent marathon waits on the tarmac, a law has been passed that passengers cannot be kept confined on the plane for more than three hours. As the clock ticked away, the crew distributed pretzels and water and apologized and apologized and apologized. Many passengers checked their watches and concluded that they would be spending an unexpected night in Chicago as their connections took off without them.
Twenty minutes before the ultimate deadline it was finally our turn to take off. A travel day that began at 5am found us arriving in the driveway at 9:30pm, happy to be home at last.
PS Less than 24 hours after we went through airport hell, we received this message from Southwest:
I regret that your July 25 trip was disrupted by thunderstorms—more often than not, the weather treats us right which allows us to provide our Customers with the prompt service that they have come to expect. However, we had to wait a little longer than expected yesterday afternoon for the “thumbs up” to depart New York LaGuardia—thank you for your patience during this delay.
Although we are unable to control the weather or the rate in which Air Traffic Control manages flight departures, we do have some say in how we show our appreciation for you as a valued Customer. In this spirit, I’m sending you a LUV Voucher* (separately, but to the same e-mail address) as a gesture of goodwill that we invite you to apply toward a future Southwest reservation. You can be sure that we are looking forward to welcoming you back for better travel experiences in the days ahead.
We're not sure what a LUV Voucher is, but this is the way to do business. Again, we are impressed by Southwest Airlines.