My day started very early. I haven’t been sleeping well since returning from Southeast Asia. My body clock is still off a bit. I’m waking up at all hours of the night – sometimes hungry, sometimes just not sleepy. In any event, I was asleep by midnight but was wide awake at 2am. I dozed on and off until 4:30am and finally climbed out of bed at 5am. I made a cup of coffee, jumped in the shower, got dressed, and was out the door by 6:45am. I was at Alan’s apartment by 7:15am and we were on our way to Washington Dulles International Airport by 7:30am. It’s a 3-hour drive to airport if you don’t hit traffic.
For the most part, we cruised along at a good speed. There was a brief 15-minute delay in Northern Virginia but nothing that set us back to far. Our first flight was scheduled to depart at 1:05pm and we needed to be at the airport by 11am.
We parked the car, caught the shuttle, and completed ticketing easily by 11:20am. It was at that point that I realized I was wrong about the flight time – by 1.5 hours. Our flight was actually scheduled to depart at 2:25pm. Little did I realize that this would be indicative of the day of ahead of us.
We boarded the flight to Chicago O’Hare. I’m not a big fan of this airport, especially the international terminal. Once we landed in O’Hare, we had to exit the airport, catch a train to the international terminal, get through security, and board our second flight to Warsaw, Poland. This is where the fun began.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 5:25pm. We started boarding promptly at 5:10pm and everyone was ready to go at 5:25pm. For some reason, the plane was not moving from the gate. Ten minutes turned into 30 minutes…which turned into an hour…then an hour and a half…two hours…three hours. We sat on the plane at the gate for almost 3.5 hours with no explanation. We watched crews unload crates from the cargo section on the right side of the plane. Then they removed the luggage from the left side of the plane. Then the fuel truck came up and refueled us…and worked on something on the left wing. After the truck left, two guys walked over with a huge ladder, climbed up to the same wing and started working on it again. Finally, they gave each other a high five and a handshake and all seemed well. Only minutes – literally – after this exchange, the purser came over the intercom to tell everyone to take their seats and fasten their seat belts. Within 10 minutes, we were taking off for Warsaw. Once we had reached an altitude of about 10,000 feet, some of the panels opened revealing the oxygen masks.
During our delay, I realized that we would miss our connection in Warsaw to Riga, Latvia. I thought I’d do a little proactive work and contact the airline to see if we could get booked on another flight. As it turns out, there’s only one flight to Riga on Saturday and there aren’t many other options. Now the snowball effect begins. Our hotel is paid in advance starting Saturday night and we’ve arranged to be picked up at the airport to make it more convenient. The helpful Customer Service representation at Lot Polish Airlines said he could re-book us on a flight to Kiev (yup, Russia) where we could spend Saturday night and then connect to a Riga flight on Sunday morning. BUT, he wouldn’t be able to do that until we actually land in Warsaw.
I guess my Saturday is going to be quite the “Amazing Race” adventure….
UPDATE: We are preparing to land in Warsaw and have been told that ALL of the luggage was removed in Chicago. This had something to do with an “urgent technical decision” that was made by the officials in Warsaw prior to our departure. The luggage was placed on another flight to Warsaw that’s about 90 minutes behind us – or so we’ve been told.
We’re still not sure what’s going to happen with our connecting flight to Riga. As it turns out, there are about 12 people on this flight who are going to Riga. The connecting flight is very small – only 24 seats. So, half of the flight is on this plane. We’re hoping that they delayed that flight as well.
SECOND UPDATE: They did not hold our flight. We have, however, been placed on another flight to Helsinki, Finland. We’ll connect there to a flight to Riga and be in around 11:30pm tonight. That’s about 10 hours later than our originally scheduled time. The good news is they also rerouted our luggage. It should arrive with us. Then we’ll catch a taxi to the hotel, take a shower, and go to sleep. That’s the plan for now.
THIRD UPDATE: We have arrived in Helsinki! We are getting something to eat at airport eatery so you know it’s not cheap – or good. But, at this point, it’s food. We have one more flight to Riga, should be there now by midnight!