Getting There
Our family members flew from Newark on Continental, American from Miami and dh, dd, and I, from Atlanta on Delta. Considering we were flying the Saturday before, and only 3 days before Christmas, things did not go too badly.

Living in Atlanta, most of our flights no matter we travel are via Delta. We have flown Delta 3 times, twice domestically, in the past 6 months and our experiences have been good and bad. Probably all in all it breaks down to 40% poor, 40% mediocre and 20% excellent. Even booking flights eight months in advance for thistrip, the discounted fares were already sold out. The discounted first class airfare on the way to Aruba was less expensive than a round trip coach fare so we took that, and used frequent flier miles to upgrade to first class on the return.

A last minute equipment change gave us a larger plane but screwed up coach class seat assignments. All the passengers then had stand in line at the gate to grab whatever seats they could get as well as new boarding passes. The resultwas long lines accompanied by short tempers, coupled with a low ceiling, our flight for Aruba departed over an hour late.

Attitudes all around with Delta were much better when the airline was in the midst of their bankruptcy. Things have since returned to their cold, uncaring attitude towards their customers. My tray was broken, so dh and I ate lunch in two shifts switching seats. The flight attendant was not even willing to look at it and totally indifferent to the situation, basically like "deal with it.” I do have to admit that the airport personnel for Delta in both Atlanta's Hartsfield and at Queen Beatrix in Aruba were excellent. On surely one of the busiest travel days of the year, could not do enough to assist us. Come on airlines, come on FAA, Delta needs more competition in Atlanta!

Having made up some time, our flight to Aruba arrived only 40 minutes late. Again we faced similar scenes from the morning, crowds and people who had simply "had enough.” Add to this everyone was tired and now hot. The terminal was more crowded than I had ever seen it and there were a number of unhappy passengers who had arrived on American Airlines with their luggage not arriving along with them. Admittedly, it did take a good 20 minutes for our flight’s luggage to begin coming out. I overheard someone state that the delay was caused by the passing rain shower during which our flight had landed and the fact that they do not like to unload luggage in the rain so itdoes not get wet. We were fortunate that as soon as the luggage did begin coming out, for the first time in 16 visits, we were one of the first people on our flight to receive our luggage off of the carousel. For us,coupled with a short line at immigration and breezing through Aruba Customs, we made it out in for us, near record time!

Exiting Aruba Customs, already on the other side of the glass, I could see our friend Bully, the taxi driver, excitedly waving and motioning hello. Passing through the doors there were hugs and kisses all around, we had finally arrived at our "home away from home.” Off for a very short ride to the Tamarijn. Well, what normally would have been anyway?

What is Christmas like in Aruba? To start off with, the Saturday before Christmas and LG Smith Boulevard through downtown Oranjestad was closed. This is a traditional day for Arubans to do their shopping. To ease access to stores, especially for families, the street is opened only to pedestrian traffic. Bully did his best but it seemed that every corner we turned resulted in just more gridlock. Either way, we made it to Tamarijn and who should be standing at the far end of the lobby but my Mom. She had been at Pizza per Tutti and just had "that feeling" that we had arrived.