Snow Storm Forces Sleep Over in Airport

September 20, 2015

in Odds & Ends Stories

My husband and I went on our first trip together to Japan for our honeymoon. We had a great experience, but the return trip was not as smooth! 

The trip was a long one; we had to fly from Sapporo to Tokyo, Tokyo to Houston, then Houston to San Antonio. It was early January, and since we were staying on the northern island of Hokkaido, it snowed every single day we were there. However, on the day we were flying home it was perfectly clear and sunny!

We were in good moods as we awaited our boarding time and ate one of our last meals in Japan (or so we thought). We all started to board, and as we were on the jet bridge we noticed that it had started to snow lightly. Once we got settled into our seats, I looked out the window and saw that the snow was coming down hard and covering the tarmac little by little. We worried about not being able to make our connecting flight in Tokyo, but tried to stay in good spirits (hey, nothing you can do about the weather!).

One thing in particular that we were having a good laugh about was the intercom announcements. My husband is fluent in Japanese so he understood the announcements, but when the attendants translated for the English speakers they simply said, “We are being delayed by the snow. We currently have NO IDEA when we are leaving.” We found the emphasis on “no idea” funny and still joke about it today.

Anyway, after being on the plane for about 2 hours, the pilot announced that we were going back to the gate and they still had no idea when we would be able to leave. It was for the best – the snow had grown to a pretty serious snowstorm by this point.

Hours and hours of waiting at the gate and finally the flight got cancelled. We all got kicked out of the gate area and were forced to go to the restaurant/shopping area. We spoke to the kind lady at the All Nippon Airways (ANA) desk and found out that we had to wait until 7am the next morning for the ticket line to open and MAYBE get a flight for that day. Every flight was cancelled so we tried to not let it get to us.

We slept on the floor that night with blankets provided by airport staff. The entire floor was taken up by sleeping travelers; even the news showed up to document it! The next morning, we got up and waited in line for the ticket desk to open at 5am so we could be in the front of the line, and we were. Unfortunately, there were no flights to Tokyo available until the next day. My husband and I lived in that airport for 2 days! The good thing was we had our luggage with us the entire time, so we were able to change into fresh clothes and brush our teeth.

On our second night we set up camp on some chairs so that we could get some rest. There were a few people around us doing the same, but not nearly as many as the night before. Eventually airport security came and politely told us all that we couldn’t sleep there and we had to stay at the hot spring hotel located on the top floor of the airport or leave the airport. We all grabbed our belongings and checked into the hot spring hotel, and it was absolutely amazing. We spent the night bathing in the hot springs and took a nice, much-needed shower, then fell asleep on one of the many reclining chairs (with personal TVs!). It was just what we needed after a crazy 2 days.

The next morning we had a nice breakfast buffet, took another shower, then boarded our flight to Tokyo. The rest of the trip went very smoothly.

The amazing staff at ANA and the helpful airport staff definitely made it less of a stressful situation. After all of the stress, it made for an awesome story to tell!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert September 21, 2015 at 9:31 am

Hardly a Trip From Hell ….almost an extended vacation.


Lovetofly September 23, 2015 at 10:49 pm

If the owners accept this as a story then it is acceptAbke not everything has to be bad! I do realize it's the nae of the website but don't dismiss good stories as well! Gregg recognized that and hence the reason its on here! Awesoem story!


creeper September 24, 2015 at 10:20 pm

I love your upbeat attitude, OP! Others might have chosen to have a negative attitude and drag others down to the same suffering, but it sounds like you chose to be positive! Good for you! More travelers should follow suit!


Gregg - admin September 25, 2015 at 10:44 am

It's nice when adversity turns into an opportunity. We don't see it happen very often on this site, but are happy when it does.


Jacob November 16, 2015 at 6:44 am

Great post.


Brad Zark November 25, 2015 at 5:59 am

Welcome to Chitose. this is par for the course in Hokkaido in January. In fact they had 8″ of snow today. I make the flight from CTS to JFK via NRT all the time. You could really brave it and take JR to Aomori then the shinkansen all the way to Tokyo. But, the onsen is just as good if not a better option. Personally, I love ANA and they’ve always been the best in CS so I wouldn’t have minded a few extra days in Sapporo.


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