Carefully Laid Plans Go Awry

September 26, 2009

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

I was flying to Istanbul, Turkey from New York, which is a long flight to start with. But no worries, right, because it’s overnight and you can sleep a bit on the plane, wake up, and be at your destination. Or so goes the plan. Of course, carefully laid plans and air travel never seem to mix for me.

A couple of hours into the flight, as we’re about halfway over the Atlantic, almost done with the first movie, the pilot comes on the intercom: “If there is a doctor on the plane, please go to the first class cabin to assist a passenger.” Now, medical emergencies on planes are never good. They’re even less good when you’re in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

We turned around and landed at what was once the last refueling airport on the continent before crossing the ocean, in a little town called Gander, in Newfoundland, Canada. This in and of itself was a delay, but wasn’t expected to be much of one, as they were just going to take the person off the airplane and we’d continue on our way.

Except when we landed, we were overloaded on fuel, since most of it was supposed to be spent crossing the Atlantic, and the weight of the plane caused a wheel to pop. This wasn’t so bad–we didn’t even notice until the pilot told us. However, as I mentioned before, Gander is pretty small. They didn’t have a replacement wheel lying around. It took about an hour for them to ascertain this, while we were sitting on the tarmac waiting. Eventually we had to deplane, go through customs, and wait in the airport while they decided what to do. The only thing they could do was fly in another plane from New York, except there wasn’t any crew available at that moment, so it required more waiting. In the end, they put us up in a hotel for about 5 hours so we could shower and nap.

We finally made it back to the airport, boarded our new plane, and were sad to discover the only movies they had were the ones we had already seen while waiting around the night before. We finally did get to Istanbul–14 hours after we were supposed to.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

stephanie September 27, 2009 at 7:48 am

gander's not that bad! i grew up there…. but as an unexpected stopover on an international flight, I can see how that would suck.


saw September 27, 2009 at 9:54 am

It could have been worse… you could have been stuck in Fargo 🙂


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