Continued from Part 1
I knew that my flight to San Francisco was delayed by an hour, but as I had built two hours of layover time into my itinerary, I was confident that I would I make my flight to Auckland. Still, it never hurts to make sure, so I stood in line at the desk at gate C10 to inquire about my connecting flight.
There was some drama going on there. A group of agents were crowded around a computer screen and arguing. The supervisor, newly arrived, inquired where the customer was. “She was about to have a nervous breakdown, so she went to the bathroom,” one of the agents informed him matter-of-factly. Well. Okay then.
The agent at the far end of the desk motioned for me to step up, and I hurried over, sidestepping the huddled group. I explained my concerns to Pedro, who took my boarding pass and looked up my flight. He was a tall man with a bit of a belly, a contrast to his short, thin companion Orlando, who was standing nearby. The two of them were chatting in Spanish about the ruckus, and I amused myself by secretly eavesdropping.
“I’m trying to rebook you through LA,” Pedro informed me suddenly. I was startled. “You think I’ll miss my connection?” I asked cautiously. “Yeah, it’s a mechanical problem with the aircraft. It’ll probably get delayed more, so I wouldn’t risk it.” I shrugged, suddenly feeling very fortunate that I had thought to double check. He began the process of rebooking me.
That’s when the expletives began. At first, it was just as he vented his frustration over the frozen computer in Spanish to Orlando. After pounding fruitlessly on the keyboard for a few minutes, he stalked over to the phone. “I can’t exchange the damn ticket,” he spat. Thirty-five minutes and two phone calls later, I had my boarding pass for the flight to Los Angeles, departing at 6pm and arriving 8:40.
My flight to Auckland from LA was at 9:45, the same time as my original flight from SF had been. Pedro assured me that I would have plenty of time to make the connection. He gave me an itinerary and a receipt and told me to get my Air New Zealand boarding pass at the gate in LA. “What happens to my luggage?” I inquired. “It’ll get rerouted,” he assured me. I ventured off to gate C9 to find my new flight.
The first thing I saw was that the flight had been delayed by 15 minutes. I shrugged and sat down, unconcerned. It was then that I remembered the cold fries in my backpack. Tearing open the foil package, I wolfed them down. Never in my life have potatoes been so delicious. Having eaten, I felt a little more relaxed about life. I called my parents and updated them, then texted my brother to inform him of my changed itinerary.
We had arranged to meet in the Auckland airport, just outside the international arrivals area. Since my flight from LA would arrive around the same time as my flight to SF, I wasn’t worried. Pedro had said that there were 9 people going to Auckland and 9 people going to Sydney on the delayed flight to SF, so I assumed they were all being rerouted through LA as well.
I finally got on the plane for the flight to LA, and I had a middle seat. Everyone sat down, and the doors of the airplane were closed. We continued to sit. Finally, at 7pm, we departed. Shortly after takeoff, the captain came on the overhead, his voice full of sinful promises of an on-time arrival in LA. The flight was scheduled to be 3 hours and 39 minutes long.
Around 8pm LA time, I began to get nervous that no preparations for landing were being made. The man on my left continued to snore. The girl on my left continued to drink bottles of red wine and write songs about California girls so thin you can break them in half and New York girls who don’t know how to laugh. At 8:20, the captain’s voice purred that we would be on the ground in less than 30 minutes. I relaxed a bit at that, thinking that I’d have plenty of time.
At 9pm, the plane finally landed. At 9:20, the plane finally made it to the gate. By this point, I was nearly mad with rage and anxiety. I pushed my way to the front of the plane and made it off at 9:25. The people on the plane were kind enough to move out of my way when I explained that I had a connection. I pushed past someone who was connecting to Sydney, and she wished me good luck. Little did she know how much luck I needed.
Continue to Part 3