The Long Journey Across the Pacific: Part 1

I’ll start from the beginning…

It was a sunny Sydney Friday around 1:15pm and I had just arrived at the airport to check in for my flight to LA. I immediately received a business boarding pass which was awesome considering I was on standby. The plane was loaded in a timely manner but then we waited at the gate for some unknown reason for another 30 minutes before starting to taxi out to the runway. Finally we headed out towards the entrance to the runway where we proceeded to sit for another 15 minutes or so.We thought we were waiting our turn to take off, we were wrong. It was at this point that the captain made his first announcment. “Hi folks, unfortunately we’ve got a problem with the fuel management system that I’m not comfortable with. We’re going to call the engineers but we need to let you know there is a chance that we might have to return to the gate.” It was at this exact moment that I had the feeling I wouldn’t be getting to LA the next morning. 1024x768_sydney

Ten minutes later.  “Ok folks, well it looks like unfortunately we’re going to have to return to the gate to have our engineers check this out. We’ll keep you posted with any updates and we appreciate your patience.”

One hour later (it is now about 5:00, we were supposed to take off at 3:10). “Alright, thank you for your patience. We think we’ve solved the problem… (pause)…put it this way, we don’t see the problem any more so we’re going to go ahead and taxi out so we can be on our way to Los Angeles.” Many people were not very comfortable with his choice of words. I admit, it probably wasn’t the best way to let everyone know what was going on, but I wasn’t worried. I just wanted to go!

About 2 hours after takeoff. “Hello folks, it’s your captain again, I have some bad news. Unfortunately that fuel pump issue is still causing some problems and we are not going to be able to continue on to LA at this time. We have a few options. We could head to Fiji, but we don’t know how you will be treated there (read this), we could go to Melbourne but we don’t really think that’s the best choice so we think the best plan would be to go back to Sydney, so were going to turn around. Those of you watching the travel route on your screens will see that we’ve already started to turn.”

2 hours later.  “Hello this is your captain again. Well we’ve made it back to Sydney but unfortunately there is some heavy traffic and Air Traffic Control is having us hold for awhile until it clears up. We anticipate that we should be on the ground around 9:28pm.”

9:30pm. “Hello it’s your captain again. Well as you can see, 9:28 has come and passed. Unfortunately while we were waiting to land the weather in Sydney took a turn for the worse. There is a lot of rain and the ground is very wet, so unfortunately we will not be able to land here and we’re going to have to divert to Melbourne.”

Around 10:30 pm. We finally landed SOMEWHERE. It wasn’t LA, it wasn’t Sydney, but it was solid ground and after more than 7 hours in a plane going nowhere, solid ground was nice.

Luckily everyone in business class was told where we would be staying immediately before exiting the plane. This meant we didn’t have to stand in line with 200 other passengers to try to figure  out our accommodation details. THANK GOD! It also meant that I got to walk right across the street to a super nice hotel where I finally checked in around 11:30pm and the 2nd part of my journey continued. Well, it wasn’t actually part of the  journey per se but some other stranded travellers did help to at least make the night more interesting.

Part 2 coming soon…

In summary:

*Part 1 of the journey- 11.5 hours from my front door to the bed at the hotel.

*Obviously this is all paraphrased but I’m pretty sure I underestimated the number of times “unfortunately” was used and I definitely should have included many more apologies, there were TONS of those.

*There’s a tiny, and I mean TINY, story about the incident here. Evidently the version on the news was much more entertaining. Supposedly we had an “emergency landing.”  The TV reporters clearly did not get their facts straight, what’s new?

4 Responses to The Long Journey Across the Pacific: Part 1

  1. V November 8, 2009 at 6:37 am #

    Lord. You poor thing! But thank God you’re OK. What a nightmare. I’ve never flown Qantas but I’ve heard that lately, they’ve had a lot of mechanical issues. I always seem to fly United because it ends up being the cheapest since I have to do an east coast to west coast domestic flight first.

    Anyway, at least you were in business and didn’t have the added headache of the hotel situation. Hope the rest of your trip is safe and fast! Enjoy your visit home!

    By the way, when are you headed back? Just curious…I am due to fly to Sydney toward the end of the month. Would be cool if we could kill time in the airport together.

    • elsja November 8, 2009 at 11:48 am #

      I think a lot of the problems are due to the fact that they have some brand new planes which still haven’t got all the kinks worked out. I was planning to go back on the night of the 27th but I might be staying longer than that now. When are you headed out there? And I’ll just say YOU poor thing that you always fly united. I hear they are horrible. 1 tv to share? I’d die. But you’re right, they are usually cheaper.

  2. V November 9, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    Ha! Yeah, one TV to share. No fun. But the service is always good and on time. However, it’s a good thing that I’m not a big woman because there’s not a lot of room to work with.

    I’m probably not booking til Wednesday, but it’s looking like it’ll be November 29 or December 2 right now. I’d love to try Q, but it’s so expensive to check bags (and pay fees for my usually heavy bags) for two different airlines. Well, will see what happens! If I can swing a good itinerary on Qantas, I’ll let you know. Enjoy Thanksgiving in the States!

  3. Mama Bird November 10, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    Oh my word…that SUCKS. I will NOT be happy if this happens to me with two little ones in tow in December. Not happy at all. I have to say though, I love Qantas. We’ve always had great service and never any problems (knock on wood). And Air NZ, though we don’t fly them anymore now that you have to stop in Aukland. They were great though…wish they start their non-stop flights again. Glad you got to LA safely.

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