A week earlier when we flew from Quito to the Galapagos our flight was more than an hour late. So we knew there could be a problem because we had only an hour and a half to get our luggage and then go from domestic to international terminals and check in. We had made calls to both airlines and was assured it would not be a problem. But we sat at the Galapagos airport for over two hours before taking off. We ended up arriving about 10-15 minutes before our flight took off but there was no chance to get our luggage and check in unless they held the plane for us. We thought they might for 25 passangers. But they didn’t. We spent at least a couple hours not knowing what are fates would be, After negotiations, the airline agreed to put us up at a hotel for a night and provide dinner. But they would not help us get on new flights. There was room for 15 people the next day for about $850, or we could wait and go standbye for flights that were mostly full for the next 10 days. Things didn’t seem very promising. Later that night most of us congregated around the internet terminals as people looked for other flights home. Some people booked tickets on other airlines but they chose to do so at their own cost. I wanted to get home but didn’t really have to be home so I my plan was to try the standbye for at least a day. As we were there the representative from the airline walked in with the good news that they would no longer charge us, and he would guarantee flights all the way to LA for 15 people on a 7am flight the next morning if we were willing to spend the day at the panama airport. The rest could try standbye at the afternoon flight or be guaranteed a seat on the 7am flight the next day. Some volunteered to stay an extra day ( a day tour and hotel was provided). I might have done that had LA been my final destination but I still had to try to get from LA to Chicago after missing my original flight. So I got up at 3am Monday morning for the 7am flight to Panama. 15 made the flight to panama and now had 10 hours of sitting in the airport waiting for a 7pm flight out. But after asking about day tours of panama we found that the airline would take us on a city tour for free. So 9 of us did that. So at the very least I was able to visit the Panama Canal, something I otherwise might never have been able to do. Then the bad luck hit us again. We boarded the 7pm flight from panama to LA and had most of the back of the plane to ourselves. Finally the captain announced that they were waiting for 25 passangers from connecting flight. That got some of our group very upset, one even talked to the captain about it. It was the exact same situation we had the day before, 25 peole on a connecting flight and they did not wait for us, and this plane ended up leaving 90 minutes late because we waited for a group. I have no idea who makes the all on whether to wait or not wait. Perhaps depending on if they have enough standbyes waiting to fill the plane.
We finally made it to LAX at around 1am. I was the only one not from California so most were tire and home and wanted to get out, so farewell to new friends were very rushed. I walked over to the southwest terminal and found it closed. So I called to try to get on a flight the next day. My original flight was at 6:50am so I hoped I could get on that. I was extremely bummed when I heard the earliest empty seat they had wasn’t until 3:45pm with a stop in Pheonix and not getting to Chicago until Midnight. And even then I had to pay an extra $250 for it to make up the difference in price of my original ticket. I waited and half slept at the ticket counter. Because I was there so early I was able to be the first person on the standby list to chicago. The problem was that that all the flights were not only full they were all over sold. So my chances did not look promising. I went in not expecting much, but before boarding they offered a guaranteed seat on the next flight an hour later and travel vouchers for anyone willing to give up a seat. I guess enough did because they eventually called my name and gave me a seat. I was so happy to get that flight and not have to spend another day at an airport.
It is way to early to think about next year. The friends I made on the trip are considering an april trip to Vietnam/Cambodia or Turkey. Neither one of those were at the top of my list. So I’ll just have to wait and see.