It’s Hard To Find A Winter Coat or An English Speaker in Miami

Since I was stranded in Florida, I never did get a chance to go home and pack clothing appropriate to the sub-freezing temperatures in the Midwest. Linen shirts and swim trunks were not going to cut it.

I spent most of my last day in Miami running around trying to find warm clothes. As you can imagine, Miami is not exactly flush with stores stocking warm winter coats. I failed.

Given the ferocity with which the Hillbilly and I had attacked the previous evening, I was due for a night off.

I watched TV in the room and went to sleep very early. The next day it was time to escape Miami. It had been a fun trip, but I am going to have to remain of the opinion that in general, I hate Miami.

MIA was as usual a total disaster. It’s one thing if my delivery guy doesn’t speak English, but the vast majority of all employees at MIA, including the TSA government employees cannot speak English in an intelligible fashion. This is very, very frustrating. We might be close to Latin America, but the stars & stripes are still hanging outside. I’m not trying to be abrasive, well perhaps I am, as it’s my nature, but is it too much to ask that government employees in the United States be able to converse with travelers in the de facto language of our homeland?

First class fares from MIA to ORD had been very cheap, so I had access to the Admiral’s Club.

I think this was the same club I was marooned in when I was trying to get from MIA to Rio in December of 2010. While the facilities of the club are mediocre at best, and I find AA to be a second rate legacy carrier, both of my interactions with the staff at the Admiral’s Club in Miami have been exemplary.

In 2010 on that previous occasion, my flight from MIA to Sao Paulo had been cancelled perhaps one hour before boarding. The lounge staff managed to rebook me on a flight from MIA to Buenos Aires leaving 45 minutes after my original flight, and then got me on a BA connection from EZE to GRU. I had been traveling on an award ticket with BA miles, but as an added bonus, when they rebooked me EZE-GRU on BA, they put me into an F bucket, which is a revenue bucket, so I earned miles for my free flight…helped me re-qualify elite with BA that year…thanks.

This time, I was in the lounge early, and wanted to try and get on the earlier flight to Chicago, so that I’d have more time for the evening.

The helpful guy in the lounge was able to arrange a standby ticket for me on the early flight. First class was sold out, so I’d have to fly economy, but it’s not that far to Chicago, and I really wanted to get moving.

With my new boarding pass in hand, I went down to the gate, only to find the flight delayed. I talked with the gate agent about the possibility of getting upgraded to first, since I was traveling on a paid first class ticket on my original flight. He told me he would see what he could do.

In the end, it didn’t matter. There was a medical emergency with the flight crew. I think someone said that the co-pilot had a heart attack, I never got the full story. The gate agent pulled me aside and told me that due to the unspecified flight crew emergency, the flight was going to be delayed indefinitely pending the arrival of a new crew, and that I would be better off switching back to my originally booked flight.

I thanked the agent, went back to the lounge and swapped back to my original flight and in fact into the original seat I had booked. Much ado about nothing.

In this age of regional jets flying on virtually every short hop and 737’s being pressed into service for transcons, it was a welcome change to get to the gate and see another widebody AA 767-300 waiting for me.

Like the aircraft that took me from Bogota to Miami, this 763 had the international business class product (marketed as “First” here since it was a domestic route).

I fell asleep almost as soon as I got into my seat and woke up on final approach into O’Hare. I only had one night in Chicago, I was going to make the most of it.


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