One more night in Shanghai, compliments of Delta airlines

Which is worse: spending 13 hours on a plane flying home or spending 12 hours in the airport getting nowhere?

There was a lot of waiting, sitting and phoning home today.

Our early start to the day slowly turned into a miserable day when Delta dragged its feet after the plane experienced a serious problem. We spent more than three hours on the plane before they determined that it wasn’t going anywhere today.  I applaud the call because it was based on safety. But imagine the long lines, chaos and ensuing frustration as 380 passengers deplaned and tried to make other arrangements. Here’s my blogging from the day.

~•~

11:52am: We’ve been sitting at the gate for two hours. Apparently there is an engine problem that the mechanics at Shanghai airport have never seen before. So a full 747 sits. Waiting.

Sitting next tom me is a Chinese young woman who didn’t eat breakfast. Like me, she’s probably been up since 5 or 6am. So she asked the flight attendant for some food. The attendant asked her if she was diabetic and I told her to say yes — I didn’t want her to miss out on getting food. The Chinese woman then asked me what that meant and so I got to explain to her and the Asian man sitting next to her was diabetes is. They were happy to get the explanation. And the food.
At this point I should still be able to make my connection to STL, even with Customs.

12:45 pm: Still sitting at the gate. They brought around cold water earlier (the Chinese like warm or hot water, not cold) and opened up big bags of peanuts and pretzels so people could help themselves. The last update (about 20 minutes ago) said they were waiting from word from the company about what to do for us. By now most people will miss their connection.

THIS JUST IN: They can’t find the part they need. The pilot said essentially that the company is stalling. A flight attendant said she’s “ticked off” then added, “we should have served dinner instead of snacks.”Another said that they are running out of water.

13:00: We’re deplaning.

13:30: We have to go back through immigration, retrieve our luggage then go back to Delta to get new flights. Profanity can be heard all around.

14:00: Standing in line at the ticket counter. I have lost patience. Still 70 people ahead of me.

I didn’t get a calling package for my iPhone for this trip. It kind of doesn’t matter right now because it’s 3am in Columbia and no one can do much right now anyway. Possibly looking at one or two day delay.

15:00: Only 12 people in front of me. The same 12 that have been thre for half an hour. Apparently the agent for this line is new. They’re now booking for tomorrow and, I hear, putting us up in a hotel here.

15:40: Six people ahead of me. Last seats on a flight tonight to LA are gone. Having a pleasant conversation with a man from Columbus and a woman from Michigan. Helping to kill time. The guy from Ohio said he will try any food that won’t put him in the hospital. Like python. And raw jellyfish. And cow face. Seriously.

16:30: I’m next in line! But the woman from Michigan has a connecting flight on another airline and this ticket agent doesn’t think it’s Delta’s responsibility to accommodate her.

16:35: We got the manager to intervene and cleared it up. He told the ticket agent exactly what Michigan woman had said.

16:40: I have a flight plan. Nothing’s going out tonight now. The same Delta flight for tomorrow is booked. Another Delta flight would have taken me to Tokyo then LA then Detroit then STL. I really didn’t want to fly through Tokyo since I’ve never been there, so I asked her to look at United. She found an afternoon flight that takes me to Chicago then to STL. Happy camper.

Dinner!

17:00: Shawn (Ohio man) and I are finally on the shuttle bus to the Ramada hotel. We were given a food voucher for the airport; Shawn wisely suggested we acquire another one. Good call. Each voucher was for 80 yuan. My spaghetti with meat sauce was 89 yuan and my soda was 29 yuan.

17:30: Standing in another queue, this one at the Ramada to get our room keys. I’m doing a mental inventory of what clothes I have left to wear tomorrow. Slim pickings.

22:00: My room is right next to the mechanisms for the elevators. Thank god I’m basically brain dead once I fall asleep.
Speaking of: good night, fine reader.

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