Stories prove travel mishaps can often have happy endings
As people throughout the area embark on their final vacations of the season, it might be helpful to know that summer hiccups don’t always require a doctor. Sometimes they need a travel agent.
Take the case of Moshe Nadoff, who was riding a bus from Detroit to Pittsburgh several summers ago.
“It was a new bus driver who had never driven the route before,” recalled Nadoff. After the main layover in Cleveland the driver missed the stop for Pittsburgh. “The passengers were trying to tell him and he said, ‘I have my route.’”
Reluctant to heed the passengers’ pleas, the driver continued on his path. As to be expected, the nearly 50 riders grew more perturbed.
“He kept driving south for about three hours,” said Nadoff, a local construction company executive. It was not until the driver “hit Kentucky,” that he “finally accepted the fact that he was going the wrong way.”
As Nadoff and his fellow passengers experienced their tour of the Appalachian countryside, back in Pittsburgh, it was business as usual. Although the bus was nowhere in sight, the station board read that the carrier had arrived.
“My father had been waiting for me,” said Nadoff. When he noticed that the board read “arrived” but the bus had not come, he got in a fight with the representative behind the counter. He said that the company had lost his kid. Only a delayed mayday from the bus driver — in Kentucky, and on a passenger’s cell phone — solved the mystery. Six or eight hours later, the bus finally showed up.
Nadoff described the saga as simply “a long time.”
Alan Klein has his story too.
For years, the orthopedic surgeon has appreciated vintage cars. Among the several that he owns, his “pride and joy” is a 1973 viper green Porsche 911 Targa.
Recently, Klein and his wife, Jodi Cohen Klein, took the car for a lengthy spin.
“We did a 2,400 mile trip,” he said.
Despite leaving Pittsburgh early on a Friday morning, their leisurely drive east quickly became a misadventure in travel. While headed to Long Island, the duo encountered a backup quite a bit worse than the corners of Shady and Forbes during rush hour.
“We crossed the George Washington Bridge on Friday afternoon,” Klein recalled. “It was a terrible mistake, because this old car doesn’t have air conditioning. It has a clutch. I’m sitting in traffic for two hours with the top down and the sun is baking.”
Eventually, the Kleins arrived on Long Island. The next day they went to Maine, and on Sunday planned to drive to Vermont for a vintage car show.
That morning, Alan and Jodi headed to Vermont by way of New Hampshire. Despite their experience on the GW Bridge, they decided to climb Mount Washington in the Porsche.
Without problem, the 1973 classic made its way up more than 6,000 feet to the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. But the summit provided an unexpected view.
“At the top we had some issues with the fuel injection system,” said Klein.
The car could not accommodate the high altitude and thus would not start back up after the Kleins had stopped and posed for pictures.
“A few guys gave me a push to get it rolling down the hill [and] I was able to coast for a short while until it started,” he said. “I was nervous, but cars are for enjoying.”
The Mendelsons have also learned to take vacation misadventure in stride.
When they set out to Italy last August, Judy Mendelson and her husband Abby figured that they were taking a trip of a lifetime.
“I had spent months and months planning our trip,” she said.
Their return itinerary included flights from Rome to JFK and JFK to Pittsburgh.
“On the way to JFK, all of a sudden the cabin lights go out,” she recalled. “I figure it’s a little blip and they’ll go back on, but they didn’t.”
Then, the captain came on the PA system.
He “says that one of the generators is out, we need to land, we are too far from New York [and] the closest place was to turn around and fly for an hour and a half to Iceland,” said Mendelson.
The 250 passengers and 10 crew members also learned that they would have to stay the night while waiting for repairs to their stricken aircraft.
“We landed in Keflavik, Iceland, and there is nothing there,” said Mendelson. “The hotel couldn’t hold any of us, [and] they had to find hotels with food because they had to feed all of these people.”
The Mendelsons and some of the stranded passengers and crew ended up staying in Reykjavik, Iceland, about an hour’s bus ride away.
Aggravation gave way to enjoyment.
“We traveled to this hotel — it was a four-star gorgeous hotel,” she said. Breakfast and dinner were included, “and you got your choice off of the menu. It wasn’t like you only had this much to spend.”
After breakfast and a brief walk through town, they headed back to the airport for a 4 p.m. flight to the States. They boarded at 8 p.m.
“We are sitting at this airport for an entire day, this was the whole flight, this was 250 people and the Italians are going out of their mind ranting and raving, saying, ‘We are never going to fly Delta again,’” said Mendelson. “Finally we … take off at 9 p.m. The first thing the captain does is apologize.”
Each passenger was given 40,000 frequent flier miles, a full refund of their roundtrip airfare to Italy and a roundtrip ticket to anywhere in the world where Delta flies.
At that moment, the Mendelsons knew exactly where they were going.
“We had been saving dividend miles to go to Australia,” she said. “Because we had this refund of the trip to Italy … we said, ‘Let’s fly around and see as much of Australia as we can.’ We saw Australia and New Zealand. We were gone for 25 days.
“It cost us hotels — the dollar was in excellent shape — and whatever day trips we took,” she added. “And we managed to find families for Shabbos.”
Looking back on it all, she is amazed how everything played out.
“It was like this fell into our laps and this horrible frightening experience turned into a phenomenal thing,” said Mendelson. “We couldn’t believe that Delta was so generous. They were so apologetic. And when I made the reservations online, we got comfort seats on all of the flights.
“I love Delta.”
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.