When it comes to traveling, half the battle is actually getting yourself to your final destination. To put it short, my dad and I found this out (yet again) the hard way. It all began on our flight out of LAX to New York….
We arrived at LAX with plenty of time to spare before our 10:30a.m. take off time. I was anxious to catch our flight on United Airlines to New York, from where we would then change to the international terminal for our Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi, then Johannesburg, and finally, a small plane to Phalborwa. One misstep and everything would be thrown off.
We gave ourselves an ample amount of time in JFK to change terminals and make our connecting international flight when booking our tickets. However, our plane out of LAX was delayed an hour. Ok, cool, we could still make it. Then it was delayed another hour. Ouch, cutting it close. And then, yes, you guessed it, yet another hour. The fear and panic began to set in. If we missed our flight to Abu Dhabi, we would miss our flight to Johannesburg, which meant we would also miss our flight to Phalborwa. On top of this, if we were a no-show for the sector out of New York, our entire ticket would be cancelled. We sat outside our gate at LAX, wondering if we would make our flight. What would we do if we missed it? How far were the terminals? Would we be running through JFK? I felt like I was on “The Amazing Race”, which, mind you, is a dream of mine, but I just wasn’t prepared for it to come true!
We finally boarded our flight from LAX to New York. Luckily the flight was a bit shorter than scheduled, but we still had no idea if we were going to make it. We patiently waited throughout the duration of the flight, searching for terminal maps, tram advice, and the best possible route. If our calculations were correct, we had less than an hour to land, disembark, grab our bags, get on the tram, make it to the next terminal, check in for our next flight, go through security, and get on the plane. But, hey, my dad and I are competitive people, so we were determined to make it happen.
We made friends with the wonderful stewardess, who ended up informing the pilot that we were trying to catch an international flight. When we landed, the stewardess went on the intercom and asked all the passengers not traveling internationally to stay seated. To paraphrase her words, “We have passengers who are trying to connect to their international flight. We ask that if you are not in a time delay, to please stay seated so they can leave the plane as soon as possible. I’m sure one day they will return the favor.” It was an incredibly kind thing for the stewardess to do for the approximately 15 people who quickly grabbed their overhead luggage and quite literally started running down the middle aisle to get off the plane. I wish I caught her name, but THANK YOU!
We began running through the terminal; the time crunch was beyond real and it was imperative that we grab our luggage and sprint to the next terminal after getting off the tram. It was quite a rush, so, The Amazing Race producers, please know I’m prepared! ;) We waited for our baggage, but we weren’t able to find it. Our check-in counter for the flight to Abu Dhabi was about to close, so we had to leave without our baggage. Our Go Pro, electronics, clothes, cosmetics, back-up camera…they were all in my check-in bag. I was incredibly upset, but all those things could be bought elsewhere. Another plane ticket to account for a missed flight? Not so much.
We made it to the Etihad Airlines counter with minutes to spare. Luckily the flight wasn’t too full, and we were able to get the middle four seats for the two of us! Score! The flight was scheduled to be twelve hours, so the more leg and arm room, the better. When we finally boarded, we were able to grab a row to ourselves!!! It was like we had our own bed, and you best believe I used that sucker up. Business class on a budget, anyone? I slept like a baby on the flight and besides a flight on Emirates Business Class, this was, by far, the best I have EVER slept on a flight.
In the grand scheme of things, I was okay that I didn’t have my baggage and felt the Universe was evening it out by giving us our own row of four on the flight. We arrived in Abu Dhabi, where we checked in to a hotel for about six hours to catch some sleep on a real bed. What a treat a real mattress makes! It was then time to jet off to South Africa!