The day started innocently enough. A Tuesday deadline for my College Football Travel Tour meant I was up until 3:30 am writing a post for Expedia. At 7 am, the alarm went off and I headed to the airport.
The day was sunny and the bus ride to the Dublin airport was pleasant. However, travel doesn’t always go as planned. My travel nightmare began as soon as I got off the bus.
Terminal 2 was the drop off point for the US airlines. My bus driver wasn’t sure if this was the right terminal for Air Canada. An airport employee informed me this was the right terminal as he exited the bus. He was wrong.
Inside, I was told I needed to walk another 10 minutes to Terminal 1. At the check in gate, there was already a long line of people waiting to get their tickets. I had already checked in and had no bags to check. However, I didn’t have any way of printing my tickets. There wasn’t a kiosk here so I waited 45 minutes to get to the ticket counter.
While I was in line, I was talking to a guy in front of me who had gone to the Notre Dame game. He informed me that our flight to Toronto was delayed nearly an hour due to weather issues on the east coast.
That was an early sign. Weather would play a factor in my travel nightmare all day.
My connection in Toronto gave me an hour and a half before I boarded my plane to Denver. We left Dublin a little after noon – an hour and a half later than our scheduled flight. I would miss my connection in Denver.
Oh the weather outside is frightful
The flight over the Atlantic was smooth. However, rough weather was still wreaking havoc on a pleasant flight. I was able to grab a few hours of sleep but was awoken by news of another delay. As we got closer to Toronto, planes were being diverted to other destinations. Next stop for us would be Montreal.
In Montreal, we were met by a fuel truck and spent thirty minutes on the ground before we finally headed to Toronto. Because of our delay, every passenger with a connection was being re-booked.
Upon arrival, I was told I would now fly through Chicago at 7:20 pm to make my connection in Denver. However, my final destination was Sacramento. Getting to Denver wouldn’t get me home.
After arriving, we lined up to receive to receive our boarding cards. However, I needed to re-book my flight so I waited in a line at the Air Canada desk. At the desk, I was told that I was booked on United through Chicago to Sacramento. I would need to go to the empty ticket counter on the other side to get my boarding passes.
When I arrived at the counter, I discovered other passengers had been waiting at the desk for over an hour. Finally, a passenger picked up the phone, hit the redial button, and told someone at United we needed someone at the desk. The only thing that made this worse was standing by baggage claim and customs without a ticket to enter.
Finally someone arrived at the counter. After 10 minutes, I had my boarding passes and proceeded through customs. As I arrived at my gate for Chicago, I grabbed a bite to eat and watched on TV as it was announced Toronto had received record rainfall amounts and flooding today.
As I sat by my gate, I was able to finally relax, check email, and get caught up on work. A few minutes before my flight, I realized I would need to re-write my post for Expedia. Now I had work to do on the plane.
After a few minutes, an announcement was made that my flight to Chicago was delayed 30 minutes due to weather issues in Ottawa. Once the flight arrived, the boarding process was completed in 10 minutes for the entire flight (that had to be a record).
Maybe I could still make my flight to Sacramento despite having less than an hour to connect.
How silly of me to worry about that! The weather would make sure I didn’t miss my flight to Sacramento. After arriving in Chicago, the departure board indicated that the flight to Sacramento was delayed 30 minutes.
As we moved closer to departure time, the flight was pushed back to 9:55 and then 10:05 pm. Finally, we began boarding at 9:45 pm. We were going to be a little later than our 10:05 pm departure but at least I had finally made it.
Then it happened again.
As we began to pull away from the gate, the skies opened up. The travel nightmare continued. A huge storm moved through Chicago and all flights were now grounded.
We sat near the terminal as the rain pelted the ground, the thunder rolled, and the lightning lit up the sky like fireworks on the 4th of July. The one benefit to this storm was the wind that rocked the plane from side to side. This caused the little boy who had been screaming for 45 minutes to finally fall asleep.
From my middle seat, I watched out the window and waited. We joined the long queue of planes waiting to take off once clearance was given. At 11:50 pm, we finally took flight.
This is where I tell the story of our plane getting struck by lightning as we rocked back and forth through the air due to the turbulence. Of course, I am lying but given the way that things had gone today, I was waiting for it to happen.
An end to the travel nightmare
We finally arrive in Sacramento at 2 am. After landing, we are told to stay seated as a passenger has a medical emergency and needs to get assistance. Fortunately, the incident didn’t look too serious. At this point, what was another 5 minutes anyways?
I finally arrive home at 3:07 am. The alarm goes off at 6 am as it’s now time for me to go to work.
27 hours after I arrived at the Dublin airport, I am finally home. The best thing about my travel nightmare is that now I have one of those stories to tell. However, I would have preferred to spend my time telling you stories from Ireland. Don’t worry – they’re coming.
Have you ever had a travel nightmare story or a travel day from hell?
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Filed Under: Traveling Thoughts