Fairway Bay, New Zealand
We caught the ferry from Tortola to St Thomas on Saturday and overnighted there in order to catch our 08.00 American Airlines flight next morning. We were up at 5.15, the flight left on time and we then cooled our heels in Miami airport for six hours, waiting for our connection (also AA) to Dallas Fort Worth and on to Sydney.
The board said the flight was leaving on time, so we made our way to the gate, where we sat and waited…
The flight captain gave intermittent apologies and updates: our plane was sitting at the gate (it had arrived late, due to mechanical problems out of Boston) but the crew had been delayed out of somewhere else due to weather and diverted to another airport. The airline could call on a standby crew, but they could only find two crew, and they needed four, so we’d have to wait for the other crew to arrive from the other airport.
We eventually boarded two hours late. Presently, the captain came on the PA and announced that the air conditioning on the port side wasn’t working and we’d have to wait for a mechanic.
The mechanic arrived, but couldn’t fix the problem, so had to ‘placard the a/c as non-operational’, which involved, (explained the captain), lengthy paperwork.
Some time later, the captain came on again. “The paper work is complete, but now there is no-one around to move our bridge so we can’t push back. We’ve called several times, but no-one has answered.”
Twenty minutes or so later, we took off, but by then we were going to miss our connection in Dallas.
En route, the captain informed us that there was bad weather in Dallas, and the air traffic controllers were going to “bring us in low from a long way out and it’s going to get a bit rough”. We were put into a holding pattern for a time, and then we descended through thick cloud, through stomach-lurching air pockets with lightning flashing around the wing tips.
Passengers were getting anxious, as was the stewardess who came on the PA in a stutter of nerves, saying, “I’d just like to remind you there are air sick bags in the seat pocket in front of you, if any of you would like to make a donation. And if you have small kids, please make sure you’re holding onto them really tight.”
So very reassuring!
The plane looped and banked, while spectacular forks of lightning zapped across the sky. I thought (and maybe the captain did, too), that we were going to abort the landing, but we eventually touched down, and everyone clapped.
Then… the captain – by now sounding incredibly weary – announced that there was no-one around to operate the bridge, so we’d have to wait to disembark. And a little while later: “Due to the lightning, no-one can operate the ramps, so we can’t unload the luggage. I don’t know how long this storm will last, but no-one is going to get their bags tonight.”
To cut a long story short, we queued for vouchers and for a shuttle and made it to a hotel at 2.30am and collapsed into bed, but without our luggage.
With 24 hours to kill, next morning we asked the concierge for suggestions of what to see and do in Dallas. She thought for a minute and said, “Um, you could go to the mall?”
Only in America!
And to cut another long story short, we boarded our Qantas flight that night, flew to Sydney and then on to Auckland (feeling very strange to not be getting off in SYD), where we discovered – not really surprisingly – that our bags had not arrived with us.
We caught the bus into town and the ferry to Gulf Harbour and walked the last couple of kilometres (quite thankful not to have our big bags!) to Sel Citron, nestled in Fairway Bay.
It sure was nice to be home.
OK, so I know it’s a ‘First World problem’, but it was a helluva trip!
~~~ ><(((°> ><(((°> ><(((°> ~~~
PS: Our bags eventually turned up two days later.