Niagara Gazette

August 31, 2012

Departing Niagara

A contrasting experience of local air flight options

Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — I just might love flying again.

I always used to love to fly. Until that day when a nightmare unfolded on our planet and commercial planes were used as instruments of terror.

After that, the experience of light heartedly taking off on a new adventure was destroyed by the natural human response of caution and concern.

Security got so tight. Lines were longer and slower at every airport as people removed their belts and shoes and stepped through a scanner, a reminder at every step of what had happened on more than one plane and what could happen again the minute we drop our guard.

The experience of flying has seemed lately to make people very tense. You can feel it in the air and hear it in conversations. 

Within the last couple of weeks my mom and I had to make two emergency trips to Florida to see my older brother who was hospitalized in DelRay Beach.  

The first trip we flew out of Buffalo and the second trip we flew out of Niagara Falls. The first trip was so bad my mother swore she would never fly again. Thankfully, the second trip out of the Falls surprised us both as we reaped the unexpected benefits of flying a young airline out of a young airport. Here are some of the details which made it so easy to contrast and compare the two experiences.

FIRST TRIP:

After waiting a couple of hours to board at the Buffalo International Airport, our US Air flight was cancelled.  We couldn’t get seats on the only remaining flight out that day so I had the agent book us through Rochester.  We took a shuttle back to our car, and paid the full price for a day’s parking.  

We got in the car and drove  to Rochester just in time to make our plane. I was feeling pretty triumphant until I realized that the tickets I’d purchased from cheaptickets.com had me returning through to Buffalo and my car would be in Rochester. The return tickets were not on US Air, they were on United.

When I called United to ask for help the lady said to call US Air, and when I called US Air they told me to call United. After several calls, I got a kindhearted agent at United who said, “I can help you.” And she did.  She didn’t give up until she found a way to get me home through Buffalo. Imagine that.

But that was only the beginning. The first flight landed in Baltimore and we had to sit on the tarmac for nearly an hour while we waited for lightning to pass. Then we had to sprint through the airport to make our connecting fight. But at least we got to Florida. And even better, my brother seemed to take a turn for the better. 

We returned home through Newark Airport.  Such craziness I cannot begin to say. Flights delayed. Changing of gates with no explanation. So crowded you couldn’t find seats in most of the restaurants. Raging crowds of people moving throughout the hallways. Nobody lighthearted. But at least we made it home.

SECOND TRIP:

This past weekend my brother was sent back to Intensive Care and we returned to Florida.

I had just written a story about Allegiant Airline’s new service to Orlando/Sanford out of Niagara Falls International Airport.  I figured we’d try out their non-stop flight and surprisingly, it was very affordable even at the last minute.  

The next day we pulled up at the Niagara Falls airport and parked about fifty steps from the door.  

Despite arriving only an hour before our flight we had so much time to spare we split a delicious sub from the ladies of Carolyn’s House who run the cafe at the airport.  There was no line at check in and only two people ahead of us passing through security. Upstairs a hundred or so people waited to board to go to Orlando and the atmosphere was decidedly calm and lighthearted.

The gate crew and the flight attendants were cheerful. On board both drinks and snacks were available for purchase. After a quick flight we landed just outside of Orlando, easily found our rental car and drove a few hours to the hospital where my brother finally seemed to be out of danger and on the mend.

It was a such a pleasure to fly out of the Niagara Falls airport. It was a pleasure to fly, period.

Such different trips. Needless to say, I am a new fan of both Allegiant and the Niagara Falls International Airport, where I was reminded why I love to fly.

And I’m thinking I’m going to always try to book my flights out of Niagara Falls.

 

 

Contact features editor Michele DeLuca at 282-2311, ext. 2263.