Sunday, August 3, 2008

Crazy Airport Experiences by David F. and Lisa

A Plane Never Felt so Good (Part 1 and 2)

What a great adventure we had on our mission trip to La Ceiba, Honduras; however, our experiences in Honduras were only part of the excitement. We certainly had some memorable travel moments.

Part 1
Everything started smoothly in Houston at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. We made it through baggage check with Continental Airlines and security with great ease. Our plane left the terminal and we were on our way. After a relatively short 2+ hour flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, we exited the plane, made it through customs, and claimed our bags. After checking our bags with Taca Airlines and getting our boarding passes to La Ceiba, we grabbed a bite to eat, paid the tax, headed through security upstairs and began what was supposed to be a 3-4 hour layover. There we met a medical team whose final destination was also La Ceiba. Their flight had been cancelled the day before and had to stay in a hotel in San Pedro Sula; in total they were stuck for 22 hours. We could just hope that this would not happen to us. The longer it was without seeing the plane, the wearier we became.

Eventually they called our names over the loud speaker and told us that we would not be able to be on our original plane. The group from the day before essentially took our spots, but Taca told us we could get on a later flight. As time passed on we got to know the San Pedro Sula Airport all too well. A couple of planes would take off from time to time and there we sat. They eventually brought us something to eat for supper and told us we would be on the 8:15 flight (Evidently Taca time is a little off). After a total of a 10 hour delay, we eventually got in the “school bus with wings welded on” and departed at about 9:30. The quote at the time was “a plane never felt so good.” What a day of travel we had already had and boy, was it good to see Professor Thomas and Ryan in La Ceiba, even if we didn’t have our luggage.

A funny story to go along with this start of our trip involved the group that took our spots on our original plane. They had for some reason kept the key and TV remote from their bad hotel experience and gave it to us when they left “in case we ended up needing it.” Not wanting the stuff, we left it in the waiting area when we boarded the La Ceiba bound plane. But later, after boarding the plane and taking our seats, I notice that someone is throwing something through the cockpit window. Then the single flight attendant walked up and down the small plane with, sure enough, the key and remote, asking if anyone had left it. Obviously, no one else claimed it and we definitely were not going to say anything as we looked at each other. Since no one claimed it, they simply opened the emergency exit and threw them out on the runway; I hope no one needed those. Anyways, just a little humor.

Part 2
After a very interesting voyage to La Ceiba to begin our trip, we prayed for two weeks for our return journey to be a little smoother; let’s just say sometimes God answers prayers in interesting ways. Hoping everything would go smoothly Professor Thomas dropped us off at the airport early. We made it through check in and security again with ease. Getting there early we waited next to the gate before hearing the dreaded call of our names. “Due to over booking, we are not going to let you on this plane; we will put you on an Atlantic Airlines flight to San Pedro Sula and you will still make your connection.” After a little bit of frustrating conversation and concern, we waited for the next plane. Sweating a little bit now, we finally got on a plane leaving La Ceiba at 10:45, and hour and a half after the time on our ticket. Landing in San Pedro Sula a little after 11:15, we finally made it into the airport and began to express our urgency and concern for making our 11:55 Continental flight to Houston. Just wanting to make our plane we decided to forget about our luggage (which was not on the same plane we were) and began to run. We finally made it to the Continental desk where they told us that our flight was closed and that there was no way we could get on it. Persistent and determined we asked who we needed to talk to. Eventually we talked to a Taca representative since it was their fault we were late. By only God’s grace our luggage had come on our original flight and the Taca person was able to talk the Continental representative into letting us try to get on the plane. In record time we cut through the line and got our boarding passes and checked our bags. We then ran to the other end of the airport where we were able to talk to a guard who got us in front of most of the line to pay the traveler’s tax and then we continued to desperately talk our way to the front. We quickly paid the tax, got out receipt stamped and flew up the stairs to security. We tore our computers out of our bags and ripped off our shoes. We grabbed our belongings and ran to gate 3. We had made it to the line boarding for the plane to Houston. Backpack, laptop, passport, shoes, belt, boarding pass and change from the tax in hand we waited in the tarmac. Eventually we boarded sweating up a storm and took our seats. Once again, “a plane never felt so good.” For all practicality, we should still be in San Pedro Sula, but with God’s help we were lifting off the ground headed home!

What an exciting adventure to end a terrific trip.


bluejay said...
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bluejay said...

What a nightmare! I felt anxious for them just reading about it. I am glad they made it home safely. We feel very fortunate Jason's flights went smoothly.
Jason's Mom