The Connection That Wasn’t

Well the time is finally here: Butterblogger flies again! I’m off to Australia, to visit Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, but a turbulent start to the trip is afoot.

When I booked my flight many months ago one option would have given me a 35 minute layover in Los Angeles before the connection to Australia. I was shocked that they would sell such a connection, but still I looked at the option longingly, because it included a direct flight from LAX-SYD. In the end, the realist in me won out and I decided that the connection was too dicey, so instead booked my flight via Brisbane, with a 1 hour 35 minute layover at LAX.

As it turns out I pretty much got that 35 minute layover after all. And that was a problem. 

August in Michigan was dry this year, leaving yards parched and leaves yellowed, but rain came tonight, to succor the earth, if not my anxieties. With the rain came lightning and delays, so in the end our flight finally pulled out of the gate in Detroit an hour late. The delays were frustrating, because long after the worst of the weather had passed, Delta still kept moving departure times back, and the entire crew seemed to be approaching the situation with a laissez faire attitude and an utter lack urgency.

Eventually, we took to the air, but I was stressed. Sitting in seat 10A of a Delta 767 on the way to Los Angeles, I looked out the window, staring at the flyover towns below us, tapping my feet and unable to pay attention to Mad Max on the crappy tiny screen in front of me. 

I logged onto the airplane WiFi periodically checking flight status, seeing a LOT of red, warning of missed connections and such. I wondered – is there a shuttle to the international terminal in LAX? Different sources gave different answers. Will I have to leave and re-enter security? Are there numerous other passengers on my flight making the same connection?

An hour behind schedule we landed in LA, and I disembarked at 11:17 pm. I and another unfortunate passenger spoke quickly with the Delta agent who said she didn’t think we could make it to our 11:50 connection in time, but since we had boarding passes, if we could make it we should be OK.

We ran across the disastrous terminals at LAX, dodging other passengers, airport employees, and construction workers. In the international terminal, other kind passengers let us slip through security ahead of them. Last call for the flight was announced over the loudspeakers, and we bolted from the checkpoint, frantically seeking our gate.

And we found it! Happily our plane was still there, and the door was still open when we arrived at 11:40. The Virgin Australia representatives looked at our tickets and turned us away. Delta, they said, had already cancelled our tickets and rescheduled us to the next day. We were informed that had Delta not taken this action we would have been fine.

Returning to the Delta desk, they blamed the weather, and provided us “discount” hotel vouchers (I did better finding a room on my own). They suggested we collect our luggage, but it turns out it had already been forwarded to Virgin Australia, and the baggage agent suggested we leave it there, giving us a toiletry kit instead. (In the end, I think I’ll keep that t-shirt)

Around 2 am I found myself in the least private hotel room ever. The layout was similar to an old-school motel, with the room window opening onto a walkway, so anybody wandering by can look in. This shouldn’t have been an issue, as I would usually just pull the curtains, but in this case the privacy curtains were fixed, and couldn’t actually provide any degree of privacy. Instead there was only a layer of sheer fabric to hinder prying eyes. At a loss for options, I slept.


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