It was Christmas time, 1995/6. My father took the family on vacation to Hawaii. While there, we discovered, to our great joy, that my wife was pregnant with our first child.
Wait! Worst travel experience????
We flew home Jan 6, 2006. Our plane was a big one – a 747 – and we were due to land in St. Louis, Missouri on our way home to New York. The first part of the flight was without incident. But a storm was brewing in the eastern United States. Not just any storm – the blizzard of 1996 This was one of the worst blizzards to hit the east coast. Over the next few days, several feet of snow fell in New York.
We landed in St. Louis to learn that the second part of the flight was canceled. But my parents were on a different flight for the second half of the journey, and somehow managed to get us on that flight – which was the ‘proper’ continuation of the earlier part. We took off. Along the way, the captain relayed frequent updates about the worsening conditions in New York City. We flew on, and were over La Guardia airport, circling, for a while. Of course, New York’s airports are always crowded, even more so at the end of a holiday time, and even more so with the snow. After about an hour, they denied us landing. I believe we were the first plane denied landing in New York City.
Of course, if you are denied landing in New York, you try to land in Philadelphia, or Boston, or some other relatively close city. But the storm was covering every part of the northeast. And airports that were still open were busy with other flights. Our plane must have had full fuel tanks, from the stop in St Louis, and the nearest airport that could take a big plane was …. Kansas City!
So, to Kansas City we go.
The plane landed fine, I don’t think snow was there yet. But, while the runway was long enough to handle the plane, no 747’s were usually scheduled for Kansas City, and they did not have the right equipment to get the baggage off the plane (it seems that the cargo bay for a 747 is higher than for other planes). So, we wait at the luggage carousel. My parents bags arrive. But ours do not. We wait and wait and wait, as each bag is slowly unloaded from the full 747. Per Wikipedia a 747 can hold 416 or 524 passengers, depending on the layout. Our plane was, of course, full. And, of course, everyone had lots of luggage, flying home from holidays. We waited.
So, calls are made. Where is our luggage? It’s in St. Louis! It was removed from the plane, and is safely in the baggage area in St. Louis. Luckily, we had put our winter coats on board, but other than that, we are in short sleeved, lightweight clothing. Perfect for Hawaii. Not so good for Kansas City in January. When will our luggage arrive? No one knows … not really surprising, given the total chaos of air travel in a blizzard. When will we get home? Again, not surprisingly, no one knows. So we don’t even know how much clothing to buy.
As I recall we got home three days later. No harm done, but that was a long flight from St. Louis to Kansas City!