Stranded in Style

Ever been stranded at the airport, either by fault of the airline, your own, or an “act of God”? What’s your story?

5 Comments to “Stranded in Style”

  1. Ah yes, several stories come to mind, many of them involving Chicago O’Hare – however the most random was on a China Eastern flight leaving Changsha, PRC. There were storms in both Changsha and in the arrival city of Beijing, so the flight wasn’t going anywhere.

    We sat on the runway for two hours on the airplane. Sometime around this point, I asked the flight attendant if we could have our in-flight meal since we were just sitting there. The flight attendant said no, they couldn’t do it (this conversation was in Mandarin). The passengers around me heard the conversation and decided to riot, all shouting (in Mandarin) “We’re hungry!!! Give us food!!!” (Google “China Eastern Rampages,” and you’ll see this behavior is a. normal and b. frequent)

    The plane went back to the terminal shortly after that. The airline assigned us rooms and gave us food vouchers for the night at the very run-down, airport hotel and rescheduled the flight for the next morning.

    Did I mention they randomly assigned roomates? And the mine was a very old Japanese woman who didn’t speak any English or Mandarin? I think we were the only two foreigners on the flight so they threw us in the room together. Interesting attempted sign language followed.

    They notified us that the flight was leaving at 8:00 the next morning, the hotel provided a sack breakfast of congee and quail eggs and off we went. Fortunately, this was my third year in China, so I had learned by this time to schedule an extra two days in Beijing between my domestic and international flights. I checked into the airport hotel in the basement of the Beijing airport waited out my now 23 hour stay – which turned into 27, because Air China couldn’t possibly ever leave on time 😉 and flew back to O’Hare in time to be stuck again in O’Hare for another 12 hours before the flight continued to my destination in DC.

    The problem was – I couldn’t get to my cousins apartment because the metro had stopped, and she didn’t have a car. So I had to barter with several DC taxi drivers to get one to take me to silverspring at 1am with the understanding that it would only cost $30 because that was all the cash I had.

    Did I mention that my ATM card and credit card had been stolen the week before I was supposed to travel back to the States? Yeah…..that would be another story!

    A nice Nigerian cab driver agreed to the deal, and I finally made it to her apartment somewhere around 2am, after 76 hours of transit. Needless to say, slept for almost two days after that!

  2. “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking – we’re having some mechanical difficulties…” The woman sitting next to me on the plane sighed deeply. We were waiting to pull away from the gate for our flight from Atlanta to Norfolk, VA. I was anxious to get home – I’d left San Salvador at noon and it was already 10:30pm. It’d been a long day and it was about to get longer.

    “I was stranded in Atlanta airport a few years ago,” the lady next to me recalled. Since I had nowhere to go and nothing else to do, I asked her to tell me the story.

    “It was winter and the city had been immobilized by a terrible ice storm. We were sitting on the runway for 3 hours waiting for our plane to be de-iced! Finally they cancelled the flight, and told us there probably wouldn’t be any flights the next day. It was 2am by this time, and people were sprawled out all over the airport, sleeping on chairs, on their luggage, on the floor. All the hotels in the area were full.

    “I decided I wasn’t going to spend the night in the airport, then wait all the next day for a flight that probably wouldn’t happen, then possibly spend ANOTHER night in the airport. So I rounded up 2 perfect strangers from my flight and asked if they wanted to drive to Virginia that night!

    “They agreed, and I think we got the last rental car available. We had to go about 5 or 10 miles an hour through the city of Atlanta because of all the snow and ice. We could hardly see the road. It was crazy! It was the middle of the night and I was driving in an ice storm with two strangers! But I was desperate to get home!

    “We drove all night and all the next day, and finally made it to Norfolk. I was exhausted, but so happy to finally be home. And by the end of all those hours and hours in the car together, the three of us knew EVERYTHING about each other! We were best friends by the end of the trip! It turned into one of the best decisions I ever made – much better than being frustrated and sleepless in the airport in Atlanta!”

    p.s. By the time my fellow passenger finished her story, the mechancial issues were resolved and our plane was taking off – I was thankful that THIS time we wouldn’t be stranded, but was encouraged by this woman’s story of making the best of a bad situation, and turning it into a great memory!

  3. Well… it’s a little embarrassing, but I was stranded in Chile’s Santiago airport (aka: “SCL” for those travel savvy people out there) once for 21 hours. I was on my way to Mendoza, Argentina to visit a YWAM base where I lived for a while, and one of my connecting flights was in Santiago, Chile.
    My original layover was about 3 or 4 hours, so I decided to take a nap while I waited for my flight. Since I was there 4 hours early they didn’t have a gate assignment for my flight yet, so I tried to position myself in as central a location as possible. The time on my phone kept switching between two different time zones, so I set two alarms to make sure that I couldn’t possibly miss my flight.
    Neither of them went off, and I woke up to the sound of “last call for flight ___ to Mendoza, Argentina.” Still in a sleepy daze, I scrambled to find a monitor showing which gate I needed to go to. It just happened to be the farthest gate possible from where I was, so I started sprinting as fast as I could (skateboard in hand)to the gate. I arrived breathless only to see my plane backing away from the jetway. The next flight was not until the next day.
    On top of that, a friend of mine was coming to pick me up at the airport in Mendoza, and had gotten a local pastor to drive her 2 hours through the mountains only to find out that I wouldn’t arrive until the next day. Talk about good times! haha, so after I felt horrible for a while, i decided to make a little video…

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