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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Missed my flight to Tokyo

No relevant pictures cuz I was too stressed to, and you don't need to read this blog post if you never plan to fly internationally with many transits in between alone.

So, thanks to Storm Draco, my domestic flight from Chicago O'Hare International Airport was delayed, and then it took 5 freaking hours to reach San Francisco International Airport. Common sense told me it shouldn't take so long, so for a few times, I actually doubted whether I was on the right plane. 

The departure time of my international flight to Tokyo was at 6.00 PM, I should be arriving at San Francisco at 5.30 PM— but when I arrived, it was already 5.45 PM!!!


Boarding time should have ended already, but I was hoping that I could still get onto the plane, so I ran to take the AirTrain to get to the departure side of the airport and ran to Information Counter. The two old ladies at the counter obviously didn't understand English well (they both have an accent and have brown skin). From them I got the worst service I had ever received in the US thus far— they didn't even greet me or asked me what help I needed as I approached, they just sat there with the most ignorant and unfriendly attitude I have ever encountered in the US! I asked them where Japan Airlines' desk was (AA staff at Chicago Airport told me to get my official boarding pass from JA at SF Airport), the ladies didn't seem to understand my question and requested to see my unofficial boarding pass issued by AA, the directed me to go straight to the boarding gate by simply pointing at a vague direction.

"Where?" I asked, and they pointed at the same direction again. I was doubtful, but I was running out of time, so I decided to follow their instruction. WRONG CHOICE. I couldn't get through the entrance to international flights' gates, of course, because the temporary ticket American Airlines issued was not an official boarding pass (why are connecting flights operated by different airlines so fucking mafan?!). The security asked me to go get it at the check-in counter.

I ran there. The counters were already closed. I got to know that the JA people already left.

It was 6PM. I checked the schedule display screen, flight to Haneda had already departed.


I fucking knew it'd happen.

I didn't get panicked though. I mean, how hard could it be to resolve a problem like this, especially in the states? (at that moment I was so really so grateful that I was in the USA and not other countries) It's just that my shoulders almost fell off already cuz I had been running everywhere for 15 minutes with a backpack containing 2 laptops and a big heavy tote!!! (didn't bring a carry-on baggage with wheels cuz I was planning to buy a cute one at Tokyo)

I just needed to figure out who to talk to. I went back to the Information Counter, put forward my question but again, the two immigrated ladies (I supposed so) didn't seem to understand what my question was. Forgot how they responded, I just know that I didn't get any help from them.


I called JA and told them my situation, the staff asked me to go to AA counters since it was their fault that I missed the JA flight. Took AirTrain to go back to another side of the airport, talked to the AA staff, found out AA already re-booked me to transit in Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific Airlines. CPA staffs didn't issue me boarding pass immediately, I was asked to wait till one hour before departure time to know whether there were still empty seats available. But in the end they gave me one!


Long story short, I managed to fly to Hong Kong, then back to Malaysia. Also managed to contact my family to pick me up at the airport at 1PM instead of 6PM! I didn't inform them straight when I got stuck in San Francisco because I wasn't sure whether I would be issued a ticket by CPA, and when I got the ticket it was already boarding time. Once I reached Hong Kong, I whatsapped Michelle (my US line doesn't have coverage outside the states) and asked her to contact my family and told them to pick me up at 1PM. Luckily she got my message and contacted my family! Thank you Mich, thank you :D

In fact I was pretty chilled throughout the whole drama lah, just a little disappointed cuz I didn't get to spend my Christmas in Tokyo. I was so thrilled about it :( And it was fucking tiring having to check in and claim my baggage 3 fucking times each. Especially at San Francisco Airport, CPA only allowed me to check in my baggage after they confirmed that there were still empty seats available (which was 1 hour before boarding time), meaning I was carrying my baggage, backpack and tote (on a trolley) everyfuckingwhere I went, dinner, duty-free shops, even washroom!!! (Airport safety rule: never leave your belongings unattended. And don't leave your belongings with strangers, you never know if someone slips something illegal into your stuff)

From Madison to Chicago by bus: ~3 hours
Rotting at Chicago Airport: ~3 hours
Fight to San Francisco: ~5 hours
Rotting at SF Airport: ~5 hours
Flight to Hong Kong: ~16 hours?!!
Rotting at HK Airport: ~3.5 hours
Flight to Malaysia: ~4 hours
Car drive back home: ~3 hours
Total: ~42.5 freaking hours, around 2 days wtf


The bright side was, I got to experience Hong Kong for a short while, and didn't have to travel alone with all my baggages from Haneda Airport to Narita Airport. So I am still grateful! :)

And I am so proud of myself for going through this alone! 









ps: I didn't call WSK because he was unreachable by phone by the time I reached San Francisco, we both flew back to Malaysia on the same day but via different airlines— he bought round trip when he went back during summer and he couldn't change the route of returning trip to be on the same flight with me. But we will be flying back to the US together, with 17 hours layover in Tokyo!!! Can't wait!!!


4 comments:

  1. I fly internationally about 4 times a year, but I must say, I've never had anything like that happen.

    I've never lost my luggage and I've never missed a flight (good for me, hey?) :-)

    Congrats for hanging in there and getting through it without a major meltdown! :-)

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    1. It was only my second time flying internationally and all these happened. Thank God they didn't send my luggage to Tokyo, but I had to check in and claim my baggage three rounds!

      Lucky you!!!

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  2. I understand about the temporary boarding pass thing, that's what happened when I transit from Rome to Spain. I run like hell all the way from one end to another even though I was early and I still boarded the plane just in time. Sometimes the staff can be totally misleading! I'm glad you know how to handle the situation well. :D I was quite gan jiong when reading this post though, haha.

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    1. Thank you for the understanding, high five T_T

      And I dunno why San Francisco Airport hires people like that to work at Information Counter?!! I was thinking to file a complaint, but meh, decided not to waste my precious break on it.

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