I had a the most bizarre airport experience today…
I was catching a flight from Los Angeles to Boston. The flight was scheduled to leave at 6:30am, so I was up before the sun and got to the airport around 5:30am. I'm in one of the last groups to board, and I hear them announce that no more rolley bags will fit in the overhead space.
I brought a small rolley luggage since I didn't want anything checked in -- I was carrying some expensive and fragile items. I was upset by that, but nothing I could do about it. I crossed my fingers but was preparing myself for everything in the bag to be shattered and destroyed when I got to Boston... So right off the bat I'm annoyed.
We get to our seats and the plane taxis to the runway. Since it's an early flight many people were already sleeping and most of the windows were closed. We continued to taxi some more and stop, when I overheard someone say, "we're back at the gate!?" Everyone stirred and soon the pilot announces over the speakers that something is wrong with the plane and we need a mechanic to come take a look.
People murmur and get nervous.
We wait. Eventually they announce they did more tests that failed, and it'll take more looking into. We all de-board the plane. I plop onto the floor and take a cat nap.
They replace a part on the plane, they tell us to continue waiting for updates. I try to find a corner to stretch in and start to do some yoga. I didn't really care how ridiculous I look doing yoga in the airport... it feels good to stretch!
While I was stretching I noticed an older gentlemen also doing some stretches. Good on ya!
So they do a test on the plane and it's still not working. Something about a 'check engine light' that won't go off, like the plane is some sort of olds-mobile So we hear an announcement that the plane must go to the hanger to get fixed and they'll try to get another plane. Zero confirmation on anything. I speak to the lady at the gate counter and she gives me a number to call to see about getting on a different flight.
I call the number, the lady says she can get me on a plane on a different airline for 1:55pm. That would get me into Boston around 10pm (was originally supposed to be there by 5pm for an interview...) Then I remembered the luggage situation. My luggage that I was forced to check in is now stranded with whatever new plane they can get (if they can ever get one!) So I felt a little stuck.
I talked to the lady at the counter some more. She looks at my info and tells me I got booked for both flights (the 1:55pm one and the mystery one that could be whenever they find a new plane). Since my luggage is tied to the mystery plane and I've got confirmed seats for either flight, I might as well wait til the time gets closer and then pick whichever one happens first. So I do that.
Everyone is upset and trying to figure out what to do… Lots of people calling to sort out what to do about their rental car reservations, rescheduling meetings with friends and family, trying to figure out how to get to their friends' wedding…
Every 30 minutes or so I get a new text about a new departure time. But no one can confirm anything.
New departure time 9:40am. New departure time 10:15am. New departure time 10:45am. New departure time 11:15am...
Mind you I've been at the airport since 5:30am.
We get a gate change and eventually I head over to the new gate. I sit down next to a woman and ask if there's been any updates. She says not really, but she's hopeful we might be taking the next plane that comes in. We start chatting about Boston and LA, and eventually we notice it looks like the gate counter is issuing tickets to people, so I go to investigate.
I go up to the counter and speak to the same gate counter lady as before.
"I remember you!" She says. "See, you were smart, and waited to see what was happening with this flight before abandoning it and getting some connections." She was in the middle of helping a guy who had changed his flight to go through Chicago to get to Boston, but now needed to change it back to the original flight since we finally got a plane.
I got my new ticket for the flight and everyone is happy! I'll get to Boston after all! It turns out quite a few people abandoned the flight to get connections because they assumed we weren't going to get anything in a timely matter, and so the people who waited to see what was happening with the original flight got seat upgrades for free and so everyone was feeling much better.
It's funny… when a group of strangers goes through some stressful event together, everyone sort of automatically becomes friends. It's like you have this traumatic shared history… even though you don't know each other. You all endured the roller coaster of emotions together and came out able to laugh about the whole thing and have a deeper appreciation for it all. (Kinda sounds like people during crunch at my old studio…) Some people start telling their previous airline horror stories to each other; like one guy who was telling some folks that he was on a flight where they were flying in the air for 30 minutes, then had to turn the plane around and land back at the airport where they took off from.
I even felt like I became friends with the gate counter lady, whom I felt like I was spending all day with! She was having just a hard a time as the rest of us.
As we're getting ready to board our new plane, an older man comes up to me and told me he saw me doing yoga earlier, and it inspired him to do some stretching. (He was the guy stretching I saw earlier.) That was so flattering and encouraging to hear!! I can't believe just doing yoga in the airport inspired this guy to do stretching, and enough so that he even came over to tell me about it. He asked if I taught yoga and told me his daughter teaches and he now wants to give it a shot. The lady I was talking to earlier chimed in and mentioned she's always wanted to try yoga but was too intimidated and felt she wasn't good enough… So pretty soon I was talking to a group of stranger / friends about how great yoga is and why they should try it out. I had no idea I would become a yoga ambassador today! :O But yoga has done so much for me so I can't help but to pass that knowledge along to anyone who is curious.
And so, after a 6 hour delay, we are finally sitting in the plane waiting to head out. I look out the window and see the gate counter lady on the steps outside the jet bridge. To my surprise, she sees me through the plane window and waves. I laugh and we make silly gestures at each other.
Who knew an awful airport experience would turn into making a bunch of airport friends?
Sophie is a video game developer who has a variety of passions including yoga, traveling, and photography.