Stuck at Washington Dulles Airport
Washington Dulles Interrnational Airport Travel Blog› entry 670 of 1090 › view all entries
Time flies really fast! Today was supposed to be the day of my return flight to New York. I had booked a flight to New York - LaGuardia Airport with United Airlines via Washington-Dulles Airport.
We left Velp at 8:15 am. The A12 road works bothered me for the last time, with many traffic jams. We reached Schiphol Airport still in time. The United Check in lady informed me that a previous flight had been canceled and instead of the scheduled Boeing 777 an old Boeing 767 was selected to operate. A good deal for me since my seat was upgraded (once more) to Economy Plus.
After checking in my stroopwafel filled suitcase, and a quick drink I visited, together with my parents, the panorama deck of the airport. A new attraction, an old Fokker 100 plane was installed at the the panorama terrace. One could go inside, a nice thing to visit.
The flight was uneventful and efficient. We arrived at 2:30 pm, 30 minutes ahead of schedule, in Washington. There was hardly a queue at the immigration, the immigration officer was very friendly, my suitcase was already standing next to the luggage belt, nobody in front of me at the customs… Everything went very smoothly and fine. I used my 2.5 hour stopover time to walk around the airport and have an early dinner. My connection was at 5:15pm and was supposed to land at 18:00 in New York.
At that point my luck turned, RADICALLY! Arriving at 4:30 at the gate I found out that the flight was delayed to 5:45pm. By the time we boarded everything went slowly. We stood long at the gate and moved slowly to the runway. Right before the runway we joined a queue of other regional jets. There were 2 in front of us. I saw one of them take off. But,… we did not move. The captain explained we were held back by the tower because there were thunder storms around. Many more planes had to wait, at some time the whole airport was closed. In the meantime we waited and waited….
After two hours (!) standing in the waiting area the stewardess was authorized to offer us free snacks so we all received a nice big bag of pretzels. It did not help. After almost 2.5 hours in the plane the captain told us that United had cancelled the flight and we returned back to the gate.
The storms had arrived, a lot of rain poured over the plane and thunder was everywhere. In that way I was happy we were not in the air, but now I was standing in the terminal and nobody had any info. The United Customer "Service" Desk was manned with only two employees and there were about 80 persons in line. Every person took about 15 minutes to process. This did not seem to work! Together with a Brazilian fellow passenger I decided to try my luck at the self check in computers. To my surprise the machine told me I had been rebooked for a flight at 7:00am the NEXT DAY!
After frantically pressing some buttons I managed to put myself on the waiting list of the last flight of today at 10:19pm. The Brazilian man did the same. And together we headed for the gate, which was in another terminal.
A friendly United employee at the gate helped us and informed us that there were 10 empty seats, we were hopeful. Especially because we appeared to be the first passengers on the standby list. Since we had to stay at the gate there was nothing to do in the meantime. It was 37° C and humid and I was thirsty, but no time to buy something.
The wait was rewarded, we were called to the gate desk and received our boarding cards. YES!!!! But, immediately after that more bad news arrived... The plane was delayed by 30 minutes. The good and bad news kept changing. When the good news arrived that the plane had landed and the new departure of 10:45 pm was really feasible we were informed that the flight was not allowed to leave. The thunderstorm that had affected Washington Dulles Airport earlier tonight had moved north and was now in New York.
We made it. At 11:45pm we once more boarded the plane. With the Fokker 100 plane included, this was my 4th plane to enter today! I was relieved to see my suitcase being loaded, and at 0:00 am we taxied once more over the tarmac. We took a detour for some reason and ended up at the same place where we had spent almost 3 hours earlier today. And….. the engines were shut down. We had to wait once more. This time only 15 minutes and YES we took off.
Everything went smoothly after that. Pleasant flight, the luggage arrived promptly. The MTA M60 bus to Manhattan was still running and I could catch the subway. I arrived at home at 3 am. Door-to-door from NL: 25 hours! The time from arriving in Washington-Dulles until coming home, a distanced of about 400 km took me 13 hours! That is a 30km/h average speed! I could almost have taken a bike!