Traveling for me is the memorable experience of exploring countries that few have had the privilege of visiting.
I have travelled to many countries around the world; during my journeys I have experienced both amazing, yet sometimes even unpleasant things. One of these unpleasant experiences is when you look up at the monitors in an airport and see that your flight has been severely delayed.
If you fly, you are certainly familiar with this – you are at your gate using your phone or tablet looking down – simply bored while waiting to board the plane. If it’s a trip to perhaps visit a friend living in another country you hold on to a certain level of excitement. But when a plane is delayed, this excitement disappears, quickly replaced by both boredom and annoyance.
Normally a delayed plane is only for a few hours. Annoying, for sure – but it doesn’t usually hurt to just wait a few more hours.
Now, imagine your plane is delayed for a full day.
This happened to me back in December 2014 and here is what happened:
It was Christmas vacation and I just completed one semester at the University at San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly. For winter vacations, I planned to visit a friend in Sweden and stay with her for 2 weeks.
Mutually we had planned this since September. I had saved up enough money – was going to stay at her apartment and I had already purchased the plane tickets. Nothing could go wrong, right?
Geographically, Sweden is quite far from the USA. My flight left from San Diego International Airport. I did not have a car nor could find anyone to drive me to the airport. Fortunately a friend recommended I use ShuttleWizard (which I now also recommend). They picked me up from San Luis Obispo and drove me all the way to the airport in San Diego.
Ultimately, it took 6 hours to arrive in San Diego and fortunately, I arrived with a few hours to spare. The flight was to depart at 8:30 PM, and I arrived at the airport at 5:40 PM.
So, of course, it was impossible to miss the flight, but then, something happened.
Around 7:50 PM, it was announced that the flight to Sweden would be delayed. At first, I thought “Dang it. Oh well, a few hours won’t kill me.”
I was wrong, of course, the plane had some kind of malfunction and thus, had to undergo some fixing. Because of that, the flight was delayed to 4:00 PM the next day.
Needless to say, I was quite angry. I had no hotel nor any place to stay at for the night. In fact, I didn’t even know anyone in San Diego.
So, I had no choice but to sleep in the airport. At least, that saved me some money that I could have used for a hotel.
So, I let my friend know that I would arrive one day late. She also was quite disappointed. But at least, she didn’t have to wait at an airport.
So now, I had to find a way to keep myself entertained. Fortunately San Diego Airport offers free Wifi. But even then, that wasn’t completely enough. It didn’t help either that the connection speed was a bit slow that day.
Spending a day at the airport definitely wasn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact, I had a wonderful time later on. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Eventually, I became hungry and began my search for airport food. Fortunately I did not have to look far; I love pizza and soon was eating.
While in the restaurant I met two really nice girls, one from Argentina and one from Lithuania. Both were very white and with stunning blue eyes.
Coincidentally, they happened to take the same flight as me, so, as soon as I heard them talking about how annoyed their delay was, I was like “I know, right?”
Then, we started talking. Both had very interesting stories to tell. Apparently, they both met during an exchange here in the US and had just finished doing a backpacking trip through California.
Their trip took about 2 weeks or so, pretty amazing if you ask me. And fortunately, I spent the entire time with these girls until the plane finally arrived where I met my friend in Sweden.
A delay that could have been just a day of just being by myself, bored, a bit tired and annoyed turned out into something unexpectedly pleasant. Without this delay, I never would have met those two girls – and we have kept in touch since then.
This experience also taught me two things:
1- Good things can, indeed, happen when you least expect them to.
2- The world is full of interesting people and you can find them anywhere.