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No Samoa Today

January 19, 2013

Travel Day – Monday, January 14

Today my plans were to fly from San Diego to Los Angeles to Honolulu to Pago Pago. There are only 2 flights a week to Pago Pago – one on Mondays and one on Thursdays. There just aren’t enough travelers from Hawaii to need more than 2 flights a week. The day started off just fine – I was early for the shuttle pick-up, the flight from San Diego to Los Angeles was on time and uneventful, and after a layover we took off on time for Honolulu. After we’d been cruising along over the Pacific Ocean for almost an hour, the captain told us he was going to have to make a big left turn and head back to Los Angeles – the plane was leaking water somewhere, and they didn’t know where it was coming from or where it was going. At that altitude, the concern was having the water freeze on some vital part if we continued on for hours. He assured us we were in no danger at all, but it was necessary to turn around so that the ground mechanics could figure out what was going on. Unless it was a real easy fix, which was doubtful, I began to worry I was losing the hours of layover time I had in Honolulu for the Pago flight. But, more importantly, we landed safely after nearly another hour of flying. There were 2 firetrucks out on the runway, which I didn’t see til we had touched down, and I don’t know if they were there for our benefit in case something had already frozen, or if there was another reason – it’s a big crowded airport! We got off right away, and were told to wait at a different gate for an update. Needless to say, there were a lot of upset people. I was disappointed too, but I was happy to be back on the ground safely. After a while, they told us a new plane would be coming in for us, but that we might need a new crew, depending on the hours some of them had already worked. So we waited and waited. A different plane arrived. They told us there would be a further delay since it needed some extra pre-flight checks since we were going over open water. I knew I was going to miss the Pago flight, and another wouldn’t go out until Thursday. The attendant I talked to wasn’t really familiar with Pacific flights, and assured me the dilemma would be dealt with in Honolulu. Finally we were ready to go again, and took off about 5 1/2 hours later than we had the first time. This time it was an uneventful trip. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was at least in Hawaii and could start some of the walking and donations for that state, even though I had not planned to be in Oahu for my Hawaii week. Most of the passengers were ending their travels in Honolulu and didn’t need any further assistance. Some who had connecting flights got those rearranged. At the end of the flight, 3 passengers were told over the loudspeaker to go meet the gate attendant for further help, and I was one of those passengers. My flight from California to Hawaii had been on American Air, but they don’t fly to Samoa, so we had booked that flight separately with Hawaiian Air, although American had been able to check my bag all the way through to Pago Pago. Because of the separate bookings, the attendant told me that American Air didn’t technically owe me anything for my inconvenience and missed flight. I told her that there were only 2 flights a week to Pago, and that I had to use a different airline since they didn’t fly there themselves. She did have some sympathy for what this did to my travel plans, and she had to call around to see what, if anything, she could do, and I was finally offered a free night at the Honolulu hotel where the American Air crews stay on layover, and taxi vouchers to get there today, and to return to the airport on Thursday. I would also be offered a “distress rate” (slightly reduced from the normal rate) for the same hotel if I chose to stay there the following 2 nights. And they also took care of contacting Hawaiian Air to re-book my flights with no fees. And I called the lady at the hotel in Pago, and they were very helpful too and changed my reservation. In the end, I think people were as fair as they could be. I needed sleep (Hawaii is 5 hours behind east coast time) and then I knew I’d get things figured out. The next dilemma was my bag – American said they didn’t have it anymore, and that it would have gone to the Hawaiian terminal. I knew the bag would have obviously missed the Pago flight too, but they couldn’t find it at first. They called around, and someone finally found it. Whew! I got my cab, and got checked into a nice hotel downtown, and called it a day. I would never have chosen to stay in downtown Honolulu (I’m not a 24th floor sort of person who likes to look out the window at a bunch of skyscrapers!) but I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth! The bed was comfy, I was in Hawaii, and everything would be fine in the morning!

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