Sunday, May 17, 2009

Delayed flights and ...was that a plane hitting the terminal?

Have you ever experienced a flight delay? How about three on the same day? Oh, and then add in the adventure of mother nature expressing my frustration for me... how?

Today went like this. First, a delayed flight from San Francisco to LAX, causing a missed flight to Palm Springs. But really, the day's disorder started before our awareness of the delayed flight.

Darryl, my friend I was traveling with, went missing in action from the security check-through. I mean literally he just disappeared. I had handed over my ticket and passport ID for the security check and walked forward to put my belongings on the conveyor belt. A few seconds later I turned around to check on Darryl. I couldn't see him. I thought perhaps he might have gone ahead to a different line. I went ahead believing I would catch up with him on the other side of the x-ray.

I waited.

Scouring the queues with my eyes, I couldn't see him anywhere. My mind started racing with a line-up of scenarios, but honestly I stood there baffled. So I called him on his cell phone. He answered, "Hey! I had to go back to the counter to get my ticket. The one he gave me was the luggage receipt. I'll be there in a minute."

When he caught up with me he also had the two tickets for the next flight leg from LAX to Palm Springs, which were also left behind. Our first tickets had no seat allocation and we soon found out why. The flight was running almost two hours late. At the gate counter we were given additional tickets for a later flight for the second part of our trip.

We finally arrive at LAX. We waited for two hours and were ready to board the flight at the first call. "Oh wait!" Darryl notices the tickets aren't quite right. "There's no seat allocation on these." So back to the gate counter to organize our seats. "We're sorry, this flight is full. You should have checked in to let us know you were here." We prodded for a few options to get on the flight. It was made clear we weren't going to be passengers on this one. So we were scheduled for the next flight. Two hours away.

We gave each other a consolatory look. At least the flight was for this evening. We needed to be there in time for a conference starting at 8am tomorrow morning. So we decided to find a restaurant and bar to enjoy a meal and a drink. It was a great opportunity to spend some time to get to hear about each others lives.

We made it to the new gate for the flight, expecting to board. Instead we got another delay. I pulled out my iTouch and listened to some music, drowning out the frustrating thoughts in my head which were finally erupting as they glided past each other, clashing.

Then we heard another announcement. "We're sorry about the delay. It should only be another 10 minutes. We're experiencing mechanical issues." No sooner had she finished speaking, we felt and heard an almighty thunderous bang! The event caused the terminal building to shake and wobble for about ten to fifteen seconds.

I looked up from my lap, and into the faces of the people around me.


The windows wobbled like jelly on a plate. I first thought perhaps a plane had hit the terminal. The lady who had been on the microphone shrieked.

There was a pause in everyone's breath, followed by a ripple of laughter.

"Was that an earthquake?" I ask Darryl.

"It sure was!" He nodded, and was visibly excited. "We wouldn't have experienced this if we had of been on the plane!" Within minutes he was using his iPhone to google information on the siezemic activity. "It says here 6.28! Wow!"

We later found out it was 4.7 magnitude, with no injuries or damage.

I'm finally settled into my hotel room, and snuggled into my comfortable bed. Grateful to finally be here, and equally grateful for the adventurous day.

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