My 48 Hour Flight Delay

I was able to go abroad for a global seminar to Ireland summer 2019, which was a blast, but it started off with my very own flight delay horror story. The trip consisted of twelve honors students, two teacher chaperones, and their wives. The sixteen of us were supposed to go from O’Hare airport in Chicago, to Philadelphia International Airport, and end in Shannon, Ireland. Not long after everyone got to the airport and got situated at the gate was our flight from O’Hare delayed. No big deal, we had a pretty long layover so it wasn’t a major concern, until boarding time came and no one was allowed to board. As time went by we realized we were going to miss our flight in Philadelphia, so we needed a new plan…

Original Plan: Go from Chicago, to Philadelphia, to Shannon, Ireland

Plan one was no longer a-go, so plan two was created…

Plan 2: Go from Chicago to Philadelphia whenever our plane leaves, stay overnight in Philadelphia, and head to Shannon the following morning.

Fantastic! We have a new plan! Everyone called their parents to let them know and we were good. By this point, we had been in O’Hare for about seven hours and were about five card games and two food court trips deep. We sat waiting and waiting for our flight before, finally, a total of nine hours past the original boarding time, the flight was called off completely.

Plan 3: Stay overnight in Chicago, and head to Philadelphia and Shannon the following day, the same times we were supposed to go, only 24 hours later.

Alright, plan three was a go, I called my Mom and gave her the new plan…but I barely got off the phone with her before one of our teachers came back and told us that because there were sixteen of us, they couldn’t fit us on those particular flights. At this point, I figured anything could happen, but plan four was the craziest yet.

Plan 4: Stay overnight in Chicago, the next morning fly from Chicago to Madrid, hop on a plane from Madrid to London, then hop on a third plane from London to Shannon, Ireland.

Believe it or not, this is the plan that stuck. Yes I had to convince my parents that this was the plan that was actually going to happen.

Group pinky promises were made. Photo Courtesy of Olivia Thompson.

By this point, the twelve of us had spent ten hours in the O’Hare airport together. We had all become fast friends, after all, we were all in this together. You can’t spend that much time around other people in one of the most boring places to be – an airport – and not talk about anything and everything you can. Like I mentioned, we spent the day playing cards, talking, and getting food, which was not nearly as bad as it sounds in such good company. It wasn’t long before inside jokes were formed between the chaos. Without our luggage and after being in the airport for ten hours, our “family of 16” piled into an itty bitty shuttle to go to our hotel. That night we sat in bed after getting buffet food in our belly and talked the night way hoping for better luck the next day.

Us excited to have made it on a plane!

The morning came and we all got up to go to Madrid, Spain. Madrid looked beautiful, even just from outside the plane window. I remember landing at 8am because I was baffled by the whiskey samples scattered about the airport so early in the morning. From there we went to London and spent our short layover in the gift shops looking at the variety of knick knacks. After many plan changes and layovers…we finally made it to Ireland! At least six of us were missing our luggage when we landed, but everyone got it a week later and part of the trip is getting there and learning how to roll with the punches.

Our arrival to Ireland was delayed a total of 48 hours, would I wish we would have gotten on our flight on time? No. It sounds cheesy, but none of us really knew each other before being forced to entertain each other for ten hours in an airport and many more at our hotel. Those 48 hours set the tone for the trip, and it made the trip a thousand times better knowing you’re all friends.

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