And when they thought it was all over and they finally reached Los Angeles, they experienced the perfect hijacker for the travel nightmare: Their plane blew into a deck when it landed on LAX and had to be towed to the gate.
“We were just thinking, for a classic ending to this crazy saga,” Meera Deo said when she finally found herself safely on the ground in Los Angeles.
Her family of four was scheduled to leave Lisbon on Sunday morning and arrive in LAX on Sunday night.
Instead, they left Portugal on Monday morning and did not return to Los Angeles – after flying through New York and Atlanta first – until Tuesday afternoon.
Their problems began when Iberia’s computer system crashed on Sunday. They could not get a boarding pass, and when they finally got it, the agent sent them to the wrong street, so they missed their first flight.
Because the system was down, their only option was to buy new tickets for the next day. So that meant, back to a hotel and back to the airport at 6 the next morning.
They could fly from Lisbon to New York’s JFK Airport, and from there they were going straight to LAX.
But the plane from New York was constantly pushed back. At first it was two hours to wait for JFK. So six. Then it was 10 hours. Finally, the flight was canceled about 12 hours after it should have left.
At one point, they actually boarded the plane and waited for the asphalt.
“We boarded the plane from JFK to LAX yesterday, and then the flight. So it was very stressful and frustrating, because we thought we would finally make it to the last leg, and then we all got off the plane again.”
Instead, at midnight, they found themselves driving 40 minutes to a hotel, getting some two hours of sleep, and then returning to JFK at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Atlanta at 6 p.m.
But even the last stage was delayed by three hours.
And of course the last surprise when they landed on LAX.
“The tire that blew out when it landed – I think we were willing to let it be humorous because we were at home.”
Deo says that a supervisor at JFK told her that such problems have often occurred in the last six months.
“It’s a kind of comedy of mistakes, all these things kept going wrong, but they also go wrong for a reason. The airlines are not set up to deal with the challenges that are happening this summer.”
This is particularly bad news for Deo, a professor at Southwestern Law School. She barely manages to regain her sleep before returning to LAX on Wednesday, scheduled to fly to a national legal conference.
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