Okay, so let me start first by saying I absolutely love the USA. This was my fourth time travelling there and I plan to live there one day. It’s one of my favourite countries. Secondly, this story doesn’t actually begin in the USA.
It begins in our home of Australia. We’d just driven 5 hours to Sydney ready for our flight out at 2:45 pm. We arrived at the airport, full of excitement, this was Jack’s first time to the states. Not long after we got there a big ‘flight delayed’ message flashed across beside our flight number. After checking with a staff member we weren’t concerned because it wasn’t a long delay and we’d be boarding at 3:30 pm instead.
After a little squiz at the book store to pass time we returned to the gate. Another ‘flight delayed’ message. This time until 6 pm. Things were really off to a great start (*sarcastic voice). By this point we’d taken up eating out of boredom and had walked the entire airport a few times. During one of our many laps around the airport the board flashed again. We were now delayed until 6:53 pm. At least the airport was starting to get quiet now – most people were up in the sky.
After being stuck in the airport for nearly 6 hours things went from bad to worse and our flight actually got cancelled. Luckily for us the airline was paying for our accommodation for the night and we ended up in a nice hotel right on the beach, a small win in this situation.
We arrived at the airport the next day in our ‘not perfect flying outfits because we’d worn those ones the previous day’ ready to finally catch our flight. After another couple of hours rolled around we were ready to board at 3:45 pm…. but then, flight delayed until 5 pm. And then again till 7:45 pm.
By this stage we were tired, grumpy and very eager to find out what the heck was going on. After a lot of waiting, it turned out the plane was actually not going to be leaving the airport. In fact, no-one should have been scheduled on it in the first place.
Was this actually a joke?
After starting to question whether or not we were ever going to make it to the US, good old QANTAS came to the rescue. They gave us seats on a flight to Honolulu and from there we’d catch a flight to San Francisco. There we would spend the night and then catch a flight to Denver the next morning.
I’ve never been so excited to finally get on a plane and even though we barely slept and it was freezing cold at least we were getting somewhere.
We arrived in Honolulu to sunshine and high humidity, ran through the airport and just made it to the gate, dripping in sweat, as they were boarding.
Right when we were just starting to feel a sense of relief, some chatter started to spark around us. The lovely couple in front informed us that there had just been an accident in San Francisco. An aircraft had burst into flames on the runway and the airport had closed. They weren’t sure if our flight would still be operating. But, people were still boarding so we just hoped for the best.
We made it up into the sky and were due to arrive in San Francisco at 9 pm that night. However as it turns out a little thing called luck was just not on our side. With an hour left to go, the captain announced that San Fran airport had opened. Unfortunately for us they hadn’t let out any departures. The airport was completely full. We couldn’t land there.
So with LA now our destination and an extra half an hour on the trip we pretty well threw our hands in the air and said ‘Jesus take the wheel.’
After arriving in LA we were given a nice, warm welcome:
‘We are not allocating hotels. We suggest you sleep at the airport or get your bags and try to find a hotel.’
Um, what about our flight to Denver? Have you seen LA airport, where exactly did you want us to sleep?
With bags in tow we headed to find a service desk at around 9:30 pm. I’ve got to admit it was pretty daunting being stuck in a huge city with no where to go, no where to sleep and no idea if we would get a flight the next day.
Three and a half hours later we were finally served.
Our new plan was to fly to Las Vegas at 6 am and then fly to Denver from there. Fingers crossed.
We spent the next few hours in LAX, and with no sleep, headed to Vegas. We went for a quick walk down the strip, finally got a breath of fresh air and then went back to the airport for a quick nap on the floor (we couldn’t stay awake any longer and the airport seemed relatively clean – honestly by this point I don’t think we really cared).
After a couple more hours waiting we headed to Denver. Finally.
Upon landing we realised Jack’s bag wasn’t there. Thankfully, a lovely lady was able to track it down. It had arrived on a separate flight and was at the other end of the airport.
We caught the shuttle bus to the car rental place and yep, you guessed it. Our car hire had been cancelled because we hadn’t arrived on time.
Now I know you might be thinking ‘why wouldn’t you have called to let them know that you would be late?’
Well, to add to this whole situation, our Australian phones wouldn’t work and we’d planned to buy one once we got there but because of the time of day we’d ended up in airports, all the shops were closed and we couldn’t buy one (our parents were panicking because they hadn’t heard from us!).
So whilst waiting for our travel agent to sort the car out (luckily we had insurance) we headed off to a hotel for the night and OH. MY. GOD it was nice to finally take off my make-up, have a shower, put on clean clothes and sleep in a normal bed.
The next morning, our travel agent had worked her magic and we were finally ready to go. After a few wrong turns and a few funny looks we hit the road and didn’t look back.
Although we were about 5 days late to our final destination and I’ve never been so sleep deprived in my life, this has become one of our funniest stories to tell. We always look back and laugh and I wouldn’t change it now even if I could.
If you’ve ever had a terrible travel experience, let me know in the comments below.