I did not expect the gods of travel to pave our road to Oahu in gold. But I did not foresee the havoc they created last night.
Our plan was simple. Fly to Honolulu, stay one night in a Waikiki hotel, pickup a rental car the next morning and drive to our destination on North Shore for Christmas. If only . . . .
This was our Friday evening:
Expecting crowds coming and going for the Holidays, we arrived two hours early at Sky Harbor Airport here in Phoenix for a 6 o’clock direct flight to Honolulu via U.S. Airways. We passed through the security check-point in a breeze. Everything seemed to be going smoothly.
Within an hour, though, it was announced our flight would be delayed two hours, until 8 p.m. for “maintenance.” Within another hour more bad news. Our plane was “pulled out of service.” We would have to wait for a second plane coming in at 11:11, delaying our departure until midnight.
Around 10 o’clock, the flight was scrubbed altogether. Aborted. No way apparently the second-plane connection was doable without crunching the entire system. U.S. Airways officials could not tell us how, when or if we could get to Honolulu. “Hours, days, we don’t know right now,” one clerk said.
Passengers lined up in front of two desks where airlines clerks handed out hotel assignments and vouchers for the night’s lay-over. But since we live in Phoenix and would prefer going back home for the night, nothing could be done for us. Not even a voucher for a taxi to take us the 8 miles to our house. Liability problems, we were told. Get receipts and contact Customer Service. Didn’t sound good.
Nebra and I left for home at 11 o’clock, after spending 7 hours in the airport. Even then, we did not know if we would even be able to get to Oahu for Christmas. We were given an “888” telephone number to call as early as 5 a.m. The Reservations Department would be able to tell us more then.
They hoped to create a special flight that would take the 190 stranded passengers in Phoenix to Honolulu and return to the mainland the 190 passengers stranded in Honolulu. Or come up with a patchwork of flights that would eventually get us to our destination.
At 6 a.m, the alarm awakened Nebra. She made the call to Reservations. It was the patchwork plan. No direct flight possible.
Under Plan No. 2, we will leave tonight at 9 on a U.S. Airways flight, just 27 hours later than anticipated. This flight will take us only to San Francisco. We can either sleep in the airport or get lodging there. Whatever, the airlines will not pay for anything.
At 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, we are to catch a United Airlines flight to Kona, on the big island of Hawaii, and, after an hour’s layover, we will fly on to Honolulu, arriving there at 3:12 in the afternoon. That’s the schedule anyway. The reality is yet to unfold.
Providing everything goes well under this revised plan, our arrival in Paradise will come 42 hours later than anticipated. One thing is for certain. This weekend on Oahu is wiped out. But there is still in time for Christmas in “The Islands.” We hope.