Neal Page is a marketing account executive on a business trip in New York City, eager to return to his family in Chicago for Thanksgiving, which is in two days’ time. After attending a tedious meeting that ends without a decision, Neal unsuccessfully attempts to hail a cab during rush hour. He is further delayed after paying a greedy attorney for a cab that is inadvertently stolen by Del Griffith, a loquacious traveling salesman who sells shower curtain rings. Neal and Del cross paths again at LaGuardia Airport, where they board a plane to O’Hare. Their plane is diverted to Wichita due to a blizzard in Chicago.

Neal, realising that he must spend the night in Wichita, agrees to accompany Del to a cheap, dirty motel. During the night, Neal loses his temper with Del and lambasts him. In response, Del admits that he regards Neal as a cold cynic and says that despite how Neal feels, he likes himself and his wife and customers like him. Neal calms down and the two men go back to bed. As they sleep, their cash is stolen by a burglar.

On the following day, they attempt to reach Chicago by train. To Neal’s relief, their assigned seats are in separate cars and they say goodbye prior to boarding. En route, the locomotive breaks down, stranding the passengers in a Missouri field where Del and Neal are reunited. After they reach Jefferson City, Del raises cash by selling shower curtain rings to passers-by, advertising the items as earrings. Del uses the funds to buy bus tickets but waits until they are on the road to tell Neal that the tickets are only valid to St. Louis. Upon arrival, Neal inadvertently offends Del over lunch and the two-part ways again.

At the St. Louis airport, Neal attempts to rent a car, but finds the space at the distant rental lot empty. After a long and perilous walk back to the terminal, Neal vents his anger with a profanity-laced tirade at the rental agent to no avail. In desperation, he attempts to hire a taxi to Chicago, but insults the dispatcher, who then punches Neal. By chance, Del arrives with his own rental car just in time to rescue Neal. While driving, they find themselves arguing again. The situation is made worse when Del nearly gets them killed on a freeway after driving in the wrong direction, scraping between two oncoming semi-trailer trucks.

While they take a moment to compose themselves by the side of the road, Del’s carelessly discarded cigarette sets fire to the car’s interior. Neal initially gloats, thinking that Del is liable for the damage. Neal’s amusement turns to anger when Del reveals he used Neal’s credit card to rent the car after their cards were accidentally switched.

With his credit cards destroyed in the fire, Neal barters his Piaget watch for a motel room for himself. Del is broke and attempts to sleep in the car, which has lost its roof in the fire. Neal eventually feels sympathy for Del and invites him in from the cold and snowy night. They consume Del’s collection of airline liquors and laugh about the events of the past two days. The pair resume driving to Chicago the next morning, but their badly damaged car is impounded by the police. They finally make it to Chicago, two days late, in the back of a refrigerator truck.

The two finally part ways at a Chicago “L” station. On the train, Neal remembers cryptic comments Del made during the journey and realizes that he may be alone for the holiday. Struck by compassion, Neal quickly returns to the station, finds Del sitting alone and asks why he has not gone home. Del reveals that he does not have a home and that his wife died eight years earlier.

Neal returns home to his family and introduces them to Del, whom he has invited to Thanksgiving dinner.

Sorry, I’m so sorry I’ve just written the plot to the 1987 American road buddy comedy film movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

The retro cinema podcasted this very movie which you can listen to here

If you can cast your minds back to September 2018, I had just gotten back from a week’s holiday in Melbourne you can read about my travel guide to Melbourne here

And it was during this time that I had encountered a raft of issues with one of Australia’s major airlines – Virgin Australia.

You can read the post that I wrote about them here

This year I am heading back to Melbourne for a screenwriting workshop and so the process of booking a holiday via the net began.

Only this time (much like last time) when I filled in the box or ticked it, and wrote that I have Autism did they reach out to me and ask me what I would need to be put in place for me to navigate my way through Perth and Melbourne airport.

But something that didn’t happen the last time happened this time.


After I had booked my flights, my hotel and bought some insurance I took a well-earned nap, I was exhausted. When I awoke and had made myself a cup of tea, I heard a ping coming from my phone, it was an email from Virgin the airline that I am flying with asking me to ring them. After a 15-minute hold and some horrible being put on hold music I got to speak to someone from their guest contact centre. They asked me about what assistance I would need as someone with Autism. I was taken aback as the last time this hadn’t occurred.



But after our chat, and notes were taken and everything was in place and just to be sure I direct messaged the airline via Twitter just to confirm what had taken place between myself and the guest contact centre operative and that it was in my notes. I wasn’t sure how I feel if I hadn’t confirmed that and nothing had been noted. Below is a transcript of what I messaged them.

So, at this stage its so far so good. Fingers crossed that what is currently in place for me does actually occur for me when I enter Perth Airport as well as Melbourne Airport.



Well I have to say that I’m very impressed that Virgin Australia reached to me in an email and had me contact them; this guest customer service facility appears to have improved drastically since the last time I used them.

If anything happens from the time that this blog post is posted and when I arrive back in Perth, I’ll let you know.


Due to the spread of the coronavirus I am currently awaiting travel updates from the Australian Goverment and Virgin Airlines as to whether or not it is safe to travel between states during this time.

Carry On The Conversation

As always, I can also be found on Twitter:@AutisticNickAU and on the Autistic Nick Facebook Page

Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.

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