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Thursday September 21, 2017
Posted: Oct 22, 2015

Introducing Travel Trocities – a nightmare of a commute to Maine

Travel Talk

I’ve been collecting stories about horrendous travel experiences for many years, some that happened to me, some that happened to others, and have decided to present these in a new series called “Travel Trocities.” This story came to me many years ago, from a New York lobbyist who had a very hard time getting to Maine. I hope you enjoy these Travel Trocities, and that they never happen to you! – George Smith

Welcome to Maine large image

Getting to Maine from away is a challenge. A young woman who worked out of Albany, New York, once told me about one of the many adventures she encountered in trying to get to Maine. Let’s call her Sue.

On one trip, Sue started her morning before the sun rose, catching an Albany flight to Boston. Her flight arrived late in Boston, about 10 minutes after the scheduled departure of her commuter airline flight to Augusta. Knowing that these commuter flights rarely leave on time, she was certain she could still make the flight. As she disembarked in Boston, Sue asked the ramp attendant to give her a direct ramp transfer to the Augusta flight.

“No problem,” said the attendant. “That’s the plane right over there.” It was no more than 100 yards away. Unfortunately, the attendant would not issue her a ramp transfer without going through the airport’s security desk, and the supervisor there insisted that the commuter plane readying for takeoff was going to Portland, not Augusta.

By now Sue had gathered a crowd of attendants, baggage handlers, and crew members, all of whom insisted, as she did, that the plane in question was going to Augusta. Sue was certain, because no flight was scheduled to Portland for at least three hours. Nevertheless, the security supervisor was insistent and would not issue her a ramp transfer.

Laden with suitcase, briefcase, and a huge stack of file folders, Sue pleaded for the transfer, saying she didn’t care if the plane was going to Portland, she’d still take it. “Sorry,” she was told. “To do that, you’ll have to go inside and change your ticket.” The commuter plane took off, without Sue, headed to Augusta. The next commuter flight out of Boston to Maine would not take off for three hours. It was the flight to Portland.

Three hours later, still laden down with her hefty cases and files, Sue boarded a transfer bus that takes passengers from the terminal out to the waiting plane. The bus driver, wandering aimlessly around the tarmac, could not find the plane!

Luckily, the plane was eventually found and she arrived very late in Portland, not her destination but close enough after a trying day. But her misadventure continued.

Selecting her car rental company of choice at the Portland Jetport, she found them out of cars. At her second choice, she was able to rent a car, but then stood outside in a downpour because the attendant at the car lot could not find her car.

When he finally did find her car and she got into it, drenched and discouraged, she discovered it had only a half tank of gas. The attendant told her their gas pump was not working. She had to pay the exorbitant price of $90 a day for the car because she could not return it to Portland. Her return flight to Albany was out of Augusta.

Only the supreme comfort and professionalism at the Senator Inn in Augusta – and its open bar – allowed Sue to finally relax after an excruciatingly long trip. She actually could have driven here in the time it took her to fly.

I suffered through a lot of similar experiences in the 1970s when I worked in Washington, D.C., and lived in Winthrop, Maine. For a while, I tried flying out of Augusta, but early morning fog and other problems made that almost impossible. I rarely was able to get out of Augusta on time to make connecting flights in Boston.

Once, after a flight cancellation in Augusta, the commuter airline rented a taxi to drive us to a flight scheduled out of Portland. The taxi caught fire halfway to Portland and we nearly lost our luggage. We ended up hitching a ride, from the interstate, to the Portland International Jetport.

I often waited in Boston for a commuter flight to Maine only to find out at the last minute that my flight was canceled. Once, I waited three hours and was already to board when the flight was suddenly canceled. The fellow in front of me had called 30 minutes earlier from his Boston hotel, to make sure the plane was on schedule before taking a costly taxi ride to the airport.

Just 30 minutes after being told everything was OK, he stood in front of me as we heard the announcement that the flight was canceled. Irate, he jumped over the counter and began beating up the airline clerk!

 

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