Getting to and from Maine is a challenge. Many years ago I wrote the following column about this challenge.
Susan Misiora works out of Albany, New York, as regional representative of the National Rifle Association. She recently told me of the latest in a long line of adventures she has encountered in trying to get to Maine.
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, Misiora 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 Misiora 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 Misiora 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. Misiora 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 a suitcase, briefcase, and huge stack of file folders, Misiora 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 Misiora, headed to Augusta.
The next commuter flight out of Boston to Maine would not take off for three hours. It was a flight to Portland.
Three hours later, still laden down with her hefty cases and files, Misiora boarded a transfer bus which 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 trying day. But her adventure 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 they 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 of the Senator Inn and the open bar allowed Misiora to finally relax after an excruciatingly long trip. She actually could have driven here in the time it took to fly.
It is no wonder we have problems economically, when it is next to impossible to get to Maine from other states in a timely fashion. Misiora’s difficulty is not unusual.
I suffered through a lot of similar experiences in the 1970s when I worked in Washington DC 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 all our luggage. We ended up hitchhiking to the 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 all ready to board when the flight was canceled. The fellow in front of me had called 20 minutes earlier from his Boston hotel to make sure the plane was alright and the flight was on schedule before he took a costly taxi ride to the airport.
Just 20 minutes after being told everything was okay, 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.
Sue Nisiora is more mild mannered than that guy but her recent hard luck getting to Maine, which she told me was not an exception, tells me that we are only fooling ourselves if we think economic prosperity for Maine is on its way.
Economic prosperity apparently can’t get here from there.