Last weekend I was in New York City during Winter Storm Jonas.
Me, my roommate Sarah, and 30 inches of snow decided to pay a visit to The Big Apple.
When we found out just how much snow was about to hit the Northeast, we considered rescheduling our flight. And that’s just what we did, by moving it up.
We’re not crazy, just hopeful. Our airline was only offering a narrow window to make changes free of charge. Rescheduling to the next weekend would cost us $200 or more, so we chose to leave earlier and beat the storm.
We headed to the airport at 8am on Friday to get an hour of work done over continental breakfast in the Air Canada lounge. Sarah’s frequent flyer status allowed her to bring a guest. Thanks for the free food and wifi, Sarah.
That evening, we had dinner at Via Carota, where I saw Jake Gyllenhaal, who was clearly not in the mood to engage.
So far so good, right? There were barely a few flurries when I called it a day.
Saturday morning was blissful, as the city was blanketed in a few inches of snow. We had coffee at Grumpy’s in Chelsea before walking over to the Whitney Museum of American Art. I was told the Saturday crowds make the museum unbearable, but it was empty as the storm strenghtened.
In fact, the whole city was preparing to shut down by 2:30 pm, by orders of the mayor. No cars would be allowed on the streets after that time, requiring most businesses to send staff home early.
By 1pm, we just barely made last call for lunch at Santina before they closed the doors. We had what felt like a last meal before braving the storm again. We made a few stops on our way home, bounced between apartments, picked up some wine, and planned to hunker down for the evening.
Well, not quite. With New York essentially becoming a pedestrian walkway, who wouldn’t go play in the snow?
We took a break for tea and eventually trekked out to pick up pizza before spending the evening inside drinking wine and watching Friends.
By Sunday, the storm had subsided, but our flight leaving Newark was cancelled. We called, rebooked on the next flight, and continued with our plans to brunch in Brooklyn. It took twice as long to get anywhere, but no one is in a hurry on Sunday, right?
We said our goodbyes, doubled checked for forgotten chargers, and got on the train to the airport. We were on the train from Penn Station when I got the email that our flight was cancelled and rebooked to the same one, 24h later.
What? They could’ve sent that email BEFORE we left Manhattan?
This is when our luck ran out and every decision I made felt like the wrong one. We were faced with a choice:
a) Do we turn back to Manhattan at the Rails station before getting on the Air Train to the airport?
b) Do we venture on to speak with an agent at the airport?
We chose b), only to be told no flights were leaving until the next day. The really kind agents booked us on two flights for Monday, in case the first was cancelled.
Then we had another choice.
a) Go back to Manhattan and crash on our poor friends’ couches one last night, then head back to the airport at the crack of dawn.
b) Get a nearby hotel and take the shuttle.
We went with b), despite the terrible reviews and an aversion to unnecessary expenses.
We ate pizza in our room as we watched the emails trickle in:
Unfortunately, part of your itinerary has been CANCELLED.
We have REBOOKED you on the flight(s) as indicated in your REVISED ITINERARY below.
The next morning, unsure if we would have to spend one more night in The Garden State, we had another choice to make.
a) Stay at Newark and hope something would leave by the end of Monday.
b) Go to LaGuardia and try our luck with a flight leaving in the afternoon.
We went with b), but not without asking one last time at Newark if there was anything leaving. The lady told us our best bet would be LaGuardia, flights were actually LEAVING that airport.
So our next decision was:
a) Take the combination of Air Train – Train – Train – Bus to the airport, going through Penn station.
b) Take a shuttle at $32.
c) Split a cab with this nice Canadian couple going to the airport too.
We chose c). It was much more expensive than we anticipated thanks to tolls, but still rung in at $28 each.
We got there, and our flight was still on time, hooray!
Our very last flight change was deliberate. We saw that flights were taking off so we asked to be bumped to the earlier one. I think Sarah’s frequent flyer status helped and I piggybacked on her priority boarding.
My very last challenge was dealing with the customs agent in Montreal.
— So you’re telling me you spent three days in New York City and didn’t buy ANYTHING?
— Everything was closed!
*Photos by Mike Discenza