. My 27 hour travel nightmare - the journey home from Dublin : Budget Travel Adventures

My 27 hour travel nightmare – the journey home from Dublin

Airplane Howth Ireland travel nightmareYou’ve heard the stories.  You may have your own travel nightmare story to tell.  I’ve had a few incidents here and there.  However, I’ve never had everything go wrong – until today.

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.

Homeward bound

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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  1. Leah Travels says:

    “This caused the little boy who had been screaming for 45 minutes to finally fall asleep.” I’m assuming that you’re writing in the third person here. ;-)

    This sounds like a nightmare, but at least you’ve finally got your “story” to tell. I’m glad you made it home safely.
    Leah Travels recently posted..Lessons Learned from 362 days of Travel BloggingMy Profile

    • Trust me – there was a little kid crying. I heard him clearly and I put my ear plugs in. Much worse for everyone else.

      In all honesty, I handled this very very well. Normally I get really upset when this stuff happens. I didn’t at all this time. Just went with it. I guess I was already picturing a good story :)

  2. Heni says:

    My most frightening travel nightmare was when I got lost in the big apple, and no one could tell me the right way back to the airport, they just didn’t speak english, and nobody has given a f4ck to me, when I woke up, I cried. And I have dreamed this several times, maybe I should consult a psychiatrist…
    Heni recently posted..Miért csináltatják külföldön a fogaikat Nyugat-Európában?My Profile

    • Well the not speaking English part would be hard to imagine in New York. However, people are different there. Hopefully this will always just be a dream and never a reality. If you do talk to a psychiatrist, I am curious to know what he/she thinks about this :)

      • Jeremy, I’m afraid to have to tell you and Heni that the part of the dream about being in New York and not finding an English speaker is entirely possible–in certain areas–and you might even have to try a few people before finding a fluent English speaker in Manhattan. Heni, you could switch your nightmare venue to Miami, Florida and unless you speak Spanish, you will be able to have a perfectly satisfactory nightmare with which to commence your psychotherapy.
        Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted..Aspen, Colorado – Skis OptionalMy Profile

  3. Glad you finally made it home…And you’re right, we all have one of those stories eventually. Mine involves two cancelled flight, and a trip to New York which was lost altogether, along with 2 sets of theater Yankees tickets….
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..$250 Fairfield by Marriott Gift Card GiveawayMy Profile

    • Got home at 3 am. Was supposed to go in at 7 am but pushed it back until 11 am. It was an eventful day. I won’t forget it.

      Last year, I got off the plane as it was about to take off to Colorado. That was definitely a trip that went wrong. I understand a lost trip. However, it’s still disappointing.

  4. Jenna says:

    Yes…not all parts of travel are fun. At least you made it safely and weren’t traveling with your kids…imagine how much fun all that waiting would have been with them! :-)
    Jenna recently posted..Inspiring Reads for August 2012My Profile

    • Now THAT would have been awful!! I handled this journey quite well despite all the disappointments. I’ve gotten a lot more frustrated over a lot less.

      What’s your worst experience?

      • Kaye Branham says:

        Last year while visiting my son in Califoirnia (you) we realized that we had the wrong date to depart. My husband had to be at work the follwing day. I called Delta, talked to a very nice agent who told us he could get us on Alaska Air if we drove to Oakland. We packed up immediately, drove to Oakland, returned the rental car and went to the counter. There, a not very nice agent, informed us there was no way we could fly on Alaska Air and it would cost $300 to change our ticket. We would also have to drive to San Francisco in order to get on a Delta flight. Considering that we had already turned in our rental car that was a major problem. That now involved getting on a bus that would take us to the Metro. Being from SC we did not have a clue what this involved. We finally arrived at the Metro station (after having to ask numerous people where, how and when). Being on the metro at midnight in San Franciso with all of our luggage (We might as well had “stupid lost tourist”) on our forehead) was a little unsettling. After going from Oakland to San Franciso to Salt Lake to Detroit to Atlanta and then to Columbia SC, we had been at 6 airports in 24 hrs. The only saving grace about this was after a discussion (ok argument) with the ticket agent in Oakland she waved the $300 since it was one of their agents that gave us misinformation to begin the nightmare.
        We were so glad to finally be home. I know this is a little long but not as long as the trip home.

        • I didn’t realize you went through all of that to get home. That is very annoying. When stuff happens with flights, that’s one thing. However, when people screw up and make your journey even longer that would annoy me. Guess you should have just stayed the extra day as planned but at least you have a story to tell now :)

  5. We’ve had a few delays over the years, but never anything too bad. Once we sat on the runway and got ready for takeoff…you know, when they give it all the gas and you’re thrown back into your seat. But then, half way down the runway they cut the gas and they hammered the brakes on hard! That was a bit exciting. I guess a warning light or something came on! Oh well, back to the terminal. Ended up a little late arriving on that flight!
    http://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com recently posted..Budapest at nightMy Profile

    • Now that is a little scary. Delays are one thing but who knows what would have happened if you had taken off. Glad things went smoothly after that. Glad you actually have a story to tell! :)

      I’m going to catch up on your Budapest stuff when I finally catch up on my sleep!

  6. Yikes. About 50% of the times I fly I end up on a flight that is delayed, diverted, or cancelled, so I can understand your pain :) My family refuses to fly with me because I’m bad luck!

    My worst travel story, though, will probably always be the time my flight lost power to one engine over the Atlantic and had to make an emergency landing in Shannon, Ireland. Made getting from Philly to London much longer, and much, much scarier!
    Amanda @ Farsickness recently posted..Climbing Seongsan Ilchubong, or How I Decided to Join a GymMy Profile

    • Yeah, I can understand why your family is a little wary. You should let everyone else on your flights know that you are flying with them so they can be prepared too! :)

      I think losing the engine would just be too scary. At least you got there safely. Did they actually tell you that you had lost an engine? I am not sure an announcement like that would be good for passengers to know.

  7. Erik says:

    Not cool- hopefully the experience was worth it!
    Erik recently posted..Photo Essay- Hamtramck Labor Day Festival & ParadeMy Profile

    • It was definitely a long journey. I handled it all pretty well. The worst part was the crying kid. At that point, a crying kid and all those hours of traveling after sitting on a runway did bother me a little.

  8. Fiona says:

    Sounds like a nightmare trip but at least it gave you something to write about!
    Fiona recently posted..The Dublin Edit: Literary Bookshops in DublinMy Profile

    • Yep, that was my thought process as well. As soon as all of this started happening, I was thinking this is going to be quite a story to tell. I am not sure if that is a good thing that I was thinking about turning it into a story but at least it helped get me through it! :)

  9. Laurence says:

    I find having a blog makes these things much easier to deal with. Near death situations become a “good story” ;)
    Laurence recently posted..That time I nearly died in the OutbackMy Profile

    • You hit the nail on the head! As soon as this stuff started happening, my first thought was “this is going to be a good story. What happens next?” I think that helped me deal with all of this pretty well. I am not sure if thinking about a blog post as soon as this stuff started happening is sad or a good thing :)

  10. Ah, the joys of flying. NOW do you see why our Journey is a road trip?
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Worst Birthday EVER – Piedras Iman, El SalvadorMy Profile

  11. I always stumble across nasty flight stories right around the time I’m about to head off overseas again :|
    Donovan @ The Mezzofanti Guild recently posted..Pursuing The Irish Language – One Bloke’s Journey From Australia To IrelandMy Profile

  12. Amanda says:

    Ick. Travel nightmare indeed! At least you didn’t get stranded anywhere overnight, though!
    Amanda recently posted..Ljubljana’s Ironic Bridge of LoveMy Profile

  13. That’s a great story! Though clearly not a great experience. Glad you didn’t get struck by lightening, I actually thought you would say the plane had to land elsewhere again. For me, I had a 1-2 hour flight cancelled due to volcanic ash – and I ended up on a 24 hour bus ride, only to find out the flight wasn’t really cancelled, yet since I didn’t “show up”, the airline almost cancelled other flights I had in the package. And that’s beside the fact I was days away from getting caught in a hurricane. Now, that would have been a great story….
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..A Volcanic Eruption, A Hurricane and a Seminar MeetMy Profile

    • All the bad weather was on the east coast and midwest. When I got back to California, the weather was fine. I knew we just needed to get out of the Chicago area and we would be fine. And we were – it was quite a smooth flight after that. Overall, this experience didn’t bother me. Honestly, this is unlike me – I normally get irritated when this stuff happens, especially when I had to go back to work Wednesday (and I did). However, I saw a story in this from the very beginning so the more that happened, the more fun this was to write! :)

      Bummer about the volcanic ash. I am not sure what I would have done in your situation. Hindsight is always 20/20. However, I have lived through a hurricane – Hurricane Hugo. I was inland enough that there was no damage but we lost power for days and there were 20 people staying at our house. My parents drove to the beach in the next day or so and saw the absolute disaster in Myrtle Beach. And that wasn’t even as bad as Charleston. There is no way you would EVER want to fly through one of those.

  14. I wish they would just invent teleportation devices already!

    • yes, there are times I wish I had these. However, as much of a pain as this trip was, I enjoyed the experience. I have a story to tell. I meet some new Irish friends in the Dublin airport because of this journey. Looking back, I am glad I went through it (normally, I would never say that).

  15. That is quite a story. Too bad I was not in Chicago. I could have joined you for a drink. From the sounds of it, you definitely could have used one or three.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Looking back on the Wisconsin canoe, camp, and road tripMy Profile

  16. Gina says:

    Ugh, that does not sound fun. I actually had a cousin who went to the Notre Dame game and they had a similar story. Sounds like a nightmarish travel day. Glad you finally made it home!
    Gina recently posted..How Travel Helps Us to be Young AgainMy Profile

    • Your cousin may have been on that same flight as me! There were a number of Notre Dame fans on that flight from Dublin to Toronto. Everyone missed their connections. Not a good weather day on the east coast! I handled this one well – much better than other situations.

  17. Christina says:

    Oh my. Poor you. I had similar experiences over the years. It’s a guessing game every year in London around Christmastime let me tell you. It almost never snows in London, but if it does, nothing works. No Tube, no busses, no planes taking off. Why? Because it’s cheaper to deal with the chaos than to buy snow ploughs and equip airports properly. That has led to some nights at various London airports :)
    Glad you arrived home well in the end though!
    Christina recently posted..Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and CliffwalkMy Profile

    • That sounds awful! I have to admit I didn’t like Heathrow. I’ve been there twice and it’s so big and spread out. I couldn’t imagine dealing with weather delays. That’s pretty bad they won’t invest in snow plows. I guess it doesn’t snow enough but it seems like you have had enough of it that it would be worth having a few at the airport.

  18. Donna Spears says:

    That was really a terrible travel experience!
    So far my most horrible travel was through a boat ride to an Island!
    It was 2 hours sea travel while riding a small boat!
    The wind was so wild and the the waves of the water were so huge and really scary! (I’m so frightened because swimming was not my talent)
    Donna Spears recently posted..Brisbane a Great Place To LiveMy Profile

    • Yeah, I’ve experienced a bumpy boat ride but nothing like that. I took a 45 minute bumpy ride to the Na Pali coast in Kauai. However, that doesn’t seem as bad as your experience. I have to admit I am not a huge fan of boats (I don’t even like cruises – but that’s another story).

  19. Great article and question to post on a travel blog frequented by travel bloggers. My story also involved storms and Chicago. Is there a pattern developing here? Naturally, I blogged about my bad travel day(s). http://www.boomeresque.com/getting-there-eventually/
    Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted..Aspen, Colorado – Skis OptionalMy Profile

  20. Kent @NVR says:

    What a nightmare, Jeremy. This is a sensitive topic in NVR-land right now, as we’ve just come off of a couple awful experiences (hi Delta!).
    Kent @NVR recently posted..Over ShanghaiMy Profile

    • Kent, I don’t really think the airline matters these days. Every airline is going to have delays and problems. I think it’s more how they respond to these issues and treat passengers that matter. I hate when these delays happen. Last week, I spent 8 hours in the Denver airport to take a 20 minute flight that was 80 miles away. It was ridiculous!

      I handled this flight pretty well. Last week, I was ticked. What was your recent experience?

      • Kent @NVR says:

        We were on two ancient Delta planes for 14 hour flights. The audio/visual systems were 100% broken on BOTH planes (yes, they were so old that they didn’t have in-seat entertainment systems). Additionally, there were all sorts of other problems. I didn’t even have a functioning tray table. Someone described it as flying in a dumpster.
        Kent @NVR recently posted..You Are PowerfulMy Profile

  21. Cintia says:

    It must have been really hard for you, but some say that things which don’t kill you make you stronger!
    Cintia recently posted..A fogbeültetés megoldás lehet az elvesztett fogakraMy Profile

  22. Doris says:

    That’s sounds awful, what terrible nightmare, thank God you finally made it home

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