Let’s just say travel was a fucking disaster.
We left for the Tobago airport at 3:45 am, driving the 45 minutes to the airport, checking our luggage, and waiting for our 7am departure to Trinidad. Despite our efforts we were unable to book a later flight from Tobago to Trinidad and so we had a nearly five-hour layover in the small Trinidadian airport. The American Airlines gate didn’t open for another two hours after we arrived at the airport so we were huddled in a corner surrounded by luggage like penguins. We took unsatisfying naps, grabbed coffee and breakfast from the overpriced coffee stand just outside the international security checkpoint. I also purchased a Caribbean cookbook featuring lots of local recipes to try and recreate at home.
When we finally arrived in Miami at 5:30pm (having gained one hour by the time zone change) shit truly hit the fan. We immediately discovered that our flight had been delayed by an hour due to the previous flight arriving later than expected. Customs and TSA went spectacularly well all things considered, we flew through the line. We boarded our flight at 8:30pm and then sat there. And sat there. And sat there. First, it was that the ground crew that was supposed to load our luggage had been moved to a different flight because ours had been delayed. We were told that due to this initial delay we had been placed on the ‘back burner.’ Essentially, our flight no longer mattered to Miami international airport and we were being ignored. The next issue was that there was no ground crew available to guide us to the tarmac so that we could take off. By around 11 we had been idling so long that we had dipped below our minimum fuel necessary to fly from Miami to Seattle and so an entirely new crew had to be located to top off our fuel. By this point passengers were coming and going on the aircraft, we had no idea when we might leave, and we had been waiting on this aircraft for three hours already. At midnight our pilots timed out and we were forced to deplane. American Airlines had no staff available to restaff the plane for a delayed flight and so rescheduled our flight for eight hours later at 8am, twelve hours after our plane was supposed to have departed. They provided hotel and food vouchers as well as hygiene kits, blankets, and snacks, but since it was nearly 3am before we actually received these items I chose to sleep the last couple of hours away in the airport. The pros: I didn’t have to wait for transportation, (which the airline paid for but did not call and so passengers were forced to wait in the cold for nearly half an hour before transportation arrived), I didn’t have to go through security again, and I got to sleep longer because I didn’t have to wake up in time to come back. The cons: the airport was freezing, and I didn’t have a bed. Finally, 7:30 rolls around and we’re supposed to be boarding. Supposed to be. One of the flight attendants was late and they couldn’t proceed with boarding until she arrived. We all still made it onto the plane by eight. At 8:05 we received the notification that once again our flight would be delayed because they needed to empty the waste container on the aircraft. This left everyone wondering what the fuck they had been doing during the eight hours since us deplaning that this hadn’t already been attended to. Thankfully, by 8:24 we began to move across the tarmac and towards the runway.