2 March 2024

The best-laid plans of women travelers can always awry. Or, as one lady described it: shit happens.

I appreciated having a Leap Year in 2024. It gave me an extra day in February. Flying to Delhi, I would be in transit for what amounted to 3 days. Flights were booked, bag packed, and I felt ready to depart for India.

The First Strike

However, transportation strikes in Germany shook my confidence. Frankfurt Airport had already shut down two days in February with hundreds of flights cancelled. On Monday, Germany’s transportation union called for rolling strikes all week especially Friday and Saturday. I was to fly thru on Saturday Take a chance sitting in Frankfurt for the next available seat or change my flight? Should I avoid flying through Germany altogether? I chose the latter.

Times like these I appreciate my airline status. My UA representative quickly found me a good alternate route. I would depart home for Denver then continue to Newark. All in all, this was better as I could meet my niece there and we could arrive in Delhi together. Granted, it ended up at quite a cost, but that was ultimately my choice. I know for a fact, I can’t take those dollars with me. As comrade Khrushchev said:

“One should spend as much money as necessary on something which is worthwhile; anything over and above that is a senseless expenditure which should be eliminated.”

The dreaded 5am departure

I woke at 2:30 am. One bright aspect about this flight is the plane sits on the ground overnight. I know it will be there for my morning departure. A few minutes to check in and have my visa confirmed and I am ready for boarding.

All is on time. Passengers board at 4:30. By 4:45 the pilot announces a leaky toilet. He has called maintenance who is an hour away, probably still snug in bed. They kindly took us off the plane rather than remain crammed inside. We were told to take everything with us.

I went directly to Shawn and asked for an alternate flight. I knew I would miss my Denver connection. He explained the estimated time of departure and arrival in Denver looked like I could make my connection.

I thought it rude to laugh at his optimism and instead asked about an alternate route that would get me into Newark.

The line in back of me was getting longer and longer. It was going to be a tough morning for Shawn and United.

He switched me to a flight to LAX leaving at 6 am. No checked bags, visa confirmed. The plane was sitting outside in a heavy rain shower. I grabbed the seat. Passengers boarded. Luggage stowed, departure was on time

My Denver flight remained sitting on the ground.

The Second Strike

LAX was an easy transfer. I even had time to step inside the United Club, use a non-leaking toilet, and have a latte. Passengers boarded the flight to Newark on time. Then the pilot made his announcement.

“Sorry folks” but the plane had previously suffered a bird strike. Maintenance was called. He felt a 9 am takeoff possible. The flaps are checked, the engines inspected. The pilot keeps us updated. He informs us it was “a relatively small bird.” I am thinking something between a turkey vulture and a sparrow. Smaller than a condor. Bigger than a hummingbird. Probably one less seagull around Venice Beach.

I check my United app. My flight from home just arrived in Denver. I would have missed my connection.

Additionally, my original SFO flight was delayed by several hours. The Frankfurt flight did depart, almost on time. Unfortunately, I would have arrived too late for the connection. I figure somehow Karma was looking out for me. Not so for the dearly departed bird.

The flight to Newark arrived an hour late but the layover there was 4 hours and more. Not a problem. My niece arrived a couple hours ago.

Already Tired

Ahead of me is a 15-hour flight to Delhi. But on this flight I receive pajamas. Question. As I arrive after bedtime, can I wear them thru immigration and to the hotel? Probably not. But then, while branded United, they still look better than the Minnie Mouse outfit worn by the lady across the aisle.

Immigration is unorganized, busy and slow. We finally meet our driver after 11 pm. Exhausted, we drag ourselves to bed. I am thankful for Shawn back in the SLO airport. Without the quick rebooking, no telling where I would be sleeping tonight. And I didn’t have to use that extra day of 2024 to get to Delhi.

As all travelers should know, it is adapt or stay home.


Retired. Have time for the things I love: travel, my cat, reading, good food, travel, genealogy, walking, and of course travel.


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