Our looooong journey home from Hawaii
This post is not meant to be a complaint in any way. Traveling is a luxury we are very fortunate to enjoy and delayed air transportation is just part of deal. This post won’t name the airline because we have had interruptions, delays, and losses on many airlines in the past. This post is only meant to share what we look back on now as extremely long journey home.
First of all, we didn’t want leave anyway. Maybe we jinxed it by saying so. Maybe we shouldn’t have been so jealous of the people we had met at breakfast two days before whose plane was cancelled and were spending an extra day on the island. And maybe we were getting pay back for the journey to the island, which include both flights departing on time, flying smoothly, and landing early.
Kailua-Kona International Airport
I don’t love red-eye flights. I don’t sleep well, or often at all on planes. That being said this departure time ensured we had a full extra day on the island and got us home by the afternoon of the next day. All went well with the check-in, our bags were not over weight, and line through security went fairly quickly. We got settled in our seat (emergency row, so extra leg room!) and watched the safety video. Then the Captain announced that there was a caution light that came on and we had to have a tech come check things out.
4 hours later … that is not a typo, we sat on that plane for 4 hours. To give it a little context the flight from Kona to Los Angeles is 5 hours. I felt badly for the people who immediately feel asleep and missed the announcement, they probably thought we were there. But after 4 hours they announced that we were all getting off the plane because it wasn’t going anywhere. To be honest after about 3 hours, I wasn’t feeling great about flying on that plane, anyway.
They announced that there was no hotels or rentals car available and that we were going to have to wait for another plane to be flown in from Los Angeles (remember its a 5 hour flight). So without a hotel, we spent the night in the open-air airport in Kailua-Kona. I mean, it’s Hawaii so it was freezing, but it wasn’t a sunny day at the beach either. They provided blankets and pushed the beverage/snack cart into the airport, which was ransacked and cleared out almost immediately. We actually found that part kinda funny, it was like something you would see on The Walking Dead – an over-turned cart, completely looted of its goods.
Finally our plane arrived, we had our bags scanned for fruit (for some reason you can’t take fruit out off the island and they do an additional security screening for this), and we were on the plane. Successful take off, smooth flight, successful landing.
Los Angeles International Airport
Our original travel itinerary included a short layover in LA and then straight on to Toronto. But we obviously missed our 7AM connection, and during our wait in Kona we had our connection rescheduled. We would now have a 7 hour layover in LA and take an overnight flight to Chicago, before continuing to our final destination.
I don’t want to believe that they booked the overnight flight to avoid paying for a hotel, but there were two flights to Chicago before they one they put us on. Wanting to be one step closer to home, we put ourselves on the standby list for the 4PM to Chicago. They waived the fee to get on an earlier flight be we were “inconvenienced”, as they put it. We were number #1 and number #2 on the standby list and we both got on! We couldn’t sit together, but it felt good to just keep moving in a homeward direction.
O’Hare International Airport, Chicago
Aside from not sitting together and this plane not having in-flight entertainment (even a bad movie is better than no movie at all) the flight went well. We knew there would be no flight to Toronto until the next day, but we were glad we got the earlier flight anyway. We didn’t want to risk the overnight flight being cancelled/delayed. We were able to get a bite to eat at the bar in the Hilton at the airport (everything in the airport was closing up as we got there) and then we settled in for another night in the airport. I didn’t even want to ask how much a room at the Hilton would be and I knew the airline wouldn’t cover it because we chose the earlier flight. O’Hara had some comfy options and I think Alex got some sleep.
The benefit of staying at the airport is you can go through security right when it opens! The flight to Toronto went great. We left on time, it was the only hour I slept in two days, and we were there before we knew it.
Pearson International Airport, Toronto
Home, sweet home! Or at least close to home (we are about 2.5 hour east of Toronto). Baggage claim: this where I should mention that during the rescheduling of our connecting flights they pulled our bags off the grounded plane in Kona and HAND WROTE new tags with the new connection details. So, it was really no surprise when our bags did not arrive in Toronto when we did. Now they were keen to point out that the bags were not lost, they were in LA. When they would make it to Toronto they couldn’t say for sure. But there was nothing left to do, but leave my information and head home. We landed on Monday, we got our bags delivered on Thursday.
At the time this all felt very “inconvenient”, to use their words. The more sleep deprived I got the more “inconvenient” it felt. But in all honestly, everyone was nice and as helpful as they could be. I wouldn’t want to fly on the plane that they didn’t feel was safe to fly. And we had just spent a week in Hawaii, so we could only feel so bad for ourselves. We were also very fortunate to be off work the next day. This experience really emphasized to us the importance of having that extra day, especially when traveling that far from home. The airline gave us a $200 credit each to use in the next year. We may end up using it, we may not. You can’t go very far on $200, but it was nice they offered something.
This experience won’t stop us from using this airline again, we usually book our flights based on price and schedule, not specific airlines. As much as I love a schedule and itinerary, sometimes when you are traveling you got to be flexible. And regarding the luggage, it is cold in Canada, there was nothing we packed for Hawaii that we will need until at least July here!