Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stuck in Transit

Hello all,

So about this time, I would be landing in Santiago. However, due to some nasty thunderstorms in Chicago, my flight was delayed 3 1/2 hours and I missed my connecting flight to South America. I'm scheduled to leave at 11:35pm tonight and it can't come soon enough. I figured the best way to tell you all about this first "adventure" of mine would be in the form of a timeline, which is as follows:

Wednesday-Chicago time

3:00pm-My parents drop me off at the airport, the lovely O'Hare airport, where I know many of you have unfortunately spent too many hours. I check my bags, wave to my parents about a dozen times, go through security and arrive at my gate about 20 minutes later, 2 1/2 hours before my flight is supposed to take off. As an "early Eskenazi", I'm right on schedule.

3:25pm-I meet a lovely woman from Grenada whose husband works for the airline and has travelled all over the world with her two children who are 11 and 13. She confidently tells me that she could leave her children at any airport in the world and they would have no problem figuring out how to get home. I'm sad to say that I was intimidated by a preteen. The last time this happened was in 7th grade when this girl moved to my middle school from California and told us about all her adventures with celebrities. (She wore Ugg boots. We all though she was crazy.)

5:15pm-The flight I'm supposed to be on lands from its previous destination, right on schedule.

5:25pm-The sky turns black and huge gusts of wind and rain pummel the windows of O'Hare, rocking the planes from side to side. In the mean time, close to two hundred people have gathered at the gate. Two previous flights to Miami were cancelled and the over one hundred people who were on standby for my flight just looked dejectedly out the window.

5:55pm-The time my flight was supposed to leave. The storm continues to rage.

6:30pm-Lightning streaks across the sky. I start to worry that I will have to run for my flight. Frustrated, I go and eat a tomato, mozzerella and pesto sandwich, surprisingly good for airline food and probably the best thing about O'Hare airport.

6:35pm-A representative from the airline gets on the intercom and says, stiffly, that NO, she does not know when the flight will be leaving. If we would take a look outside, clearly there are tornado-like winds which means that the plane cannot safely leave the ground. I don't appreciate her patronizing tone. Two minutes later she returns to the intercom to tell us that the first flight out will be to New Delhi, India at the gate next door and we will just have to wait our damn turn. Ok, she didn't say damn, but it was definitely implied.

6:45pm-Myself and a freshly tanned 60 year old man bond over our anger at the storm. He gripes that it is unfair that the India flight gets to go first but that it is best to get all the Indian people out of the airport since they are "stinking up the place". Despite all my frustration at the airline and the weather, this was the worst part of my day.

7:40pm-The storm calms and we are finally allowed to board the plane. If the plane leaves at 7:50, like it is now scheduled to do, I would arrive in Miami at 11:34, giving me approximately 1 minute to catch my connecting flight.

7:55pm-Everyone has boarded and the captain announces that they just need to load the luggage and we will be taking off in about 10-15 minutes.

8:15pm-The captain announces that there are still 62 bags left to be loaded.

8:50pm-We begin to move onto the ramp and take our place in a line of at least a dozen planes.

9:20pm-We finally take off.

9:45pm-Rather than stress about my flight situation, I choose to peruse Sky Mall magazine. They advertise for a multitude of inplausible and expensive products, the best of which is the "Indoor Doggy Doo-Doo Area" which consists of a 12 x 16" piece of synthetic grass mounted on a plastic grate which holds the "liquid" so it will not spill on the floor. Great for dogs in high rise apartments or times of severe weather.

Thursday-Miami time

1:00am-We finally arrive. When it is my row's turn to get out of our seats, the teenage girl sitting next to me is too entranced by her cell phone to notice and blocks me in. In my imagination, I use her lap as a spring board to jump ahead of all the other people on the plane, simultaneously turning back time an hour and a half and miraculously making my flight to Santiago. In reality, I lightly tap her on the shoulder and ask through gritted teeth if she will please get up so I can figure out whether or not I have to sleep in the airport.

1:30am-I get to the rebooking station and am given a hotel for the evening and a ticket for the flight at 11:35pm Thursday. The agent jokes that technically it is a flight "later today" but somehow that does not mask the fact that I still have 22 hours until I will board the plane.

1:50am-I wait outside the airport for the hotel shuttle with a group of other people who missed their flights to South America as well. A man with a piercing in his ear approaches me and asks me what hotel I'm staying at. Before I can bullshit an answer, the hotel shuttle drives by and I run to catch it. Saved by the...bus.

2:30am- I email my program director in Santiago with my flight information and try to get some sleep.

8:00am- I wake up to eat breakfast which ends at 9:00am. After speaking with the front desk, it appears that I have to check out at 12 noon, which means another long day of hanging out in the airport.

9:00am-The Breakfast Club is on TV. I nearly cry with happiness and know that the absolute dweebiness of Anthony Michael Hall will get me through the day.

My shout-out of the day goes to Megan McLean, who missed a connecting flight and had to sleep in the Dallas airport las semester. I thought of you often yesterday and realized that if you could get through that, I could deal with my situation. Thanks for giving me perspective.

Off to the airport soon. The goal is to stake out the best food and internet areas. If any of you are lucky enough to get to the Miami airport in the future, be sure to give me a call and I'll be able to direct you around what is soon to become my second home.

Hear's to my borrowed-Seinfeld mantra, SERENITY NOW!




  1. Oh Abby,
    Hang in there! I hope your "Rocky Road to Chile" is soon as smooth as a salsa.


  2. Abby: the rest of the trip will be a piece of cake after this!


  3. I like the agent who I imagined as smirking as he pointed the technicality of your flight being later that day. I hate those people, but say things like that all the time anyway.
    I hope your enthusiasm hasn't waned

  4. You're amazing for getting through such a difficult situation. Boo on racist old people, even though "they can't help it" or whatever. I'm glad you made it safely in the end!!!

  5. Thanks guys! It was all worth it now that I'm finally here: )

  6. I finally got a chance to read this, and laughed uproariously at my desk at work. I got weird looks. AWESOME.