My flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong leaves at 12:20am on Monday morning. My sister drops me off at the airport on Sunday night around 9:00pm. This is plenty of time to get my bags checked, go through security, and find my gate.
Asiana Air gives me two checked bags for free which is nice. I'm a little worried that my two pieces of carry-on are a little too heavy but I am not about to bring that up with anyone. I'll fill my travel vest with the heavy stuff if I have too.
The Tom Bradley International Terminal is a hub for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese passengers. There are a lot of instructions and conversations in languages I don't understand.
TV screens proclaim the benefits of being TSA Pre-checked. I don't understand why because to my knowledge they don't have pre-check lines for international flights. It feels barbaric to take off my shoes and belt to go through security. I accidentally put my shoes in the same bin as my laptop and the bin is flagged for a secondary screening.
In less than an hour I'm at my gate, but it looks like a flight to Sydney Australia is boarding before mine is. I look for a place to sit and write.
The entrance to the concourse has a three story tall projection, it's featuring an oriental looking tower in the mountains as I enter.
On the large screen above me I see that my flight is still on time and the boarding time is 11:30pm.
A little while later I hear an announcement about a flight, but I don't catch the flight number right away. Something bugs me and I look up at the large screen—my flight is no longer listed.
I walk back to my gate, the flight shows up on the smaller screens, but the gate number is blank. I walk towards the reception desk as another announcement comes over the loud speakers.
"Passengers of Asiana Flight 203, the flight has been canceled. Please proceed to ticketing for more information."
I stand and listen as the airport workers tell other passengers to go back to ticketing. There's no explanation for why the flight is canceled.
I make my way back out to ticketing. There is a huge mob of passengers and I work my way towards the front so I can hear what is going on.
The flight has been canceled, there are no more flights they can put us on for the night. They are giving us hotel vouchers. They will call us at eight in the morning to tell us our options.
I don't envy the poor workers, they look frazzled. The lead is running back and forth and he is not having a good day. They don't seem to have a lot of information for us and the lines are a disorganized mess. Rather than go to the end, I do my best to stay close to the desk. I want to know how this affects my itinerary.
While I wait I text my contacts at UIC. Give them an update, try to figure out what my best options are. If I arrive late, I'll just need to get from Hong Kong to Zhuhai on my own. Not ideal, but certainly doable.
After almost an hour the poor airline workers have a quick meeting and inform us that they have a replacement flight which will leave at 4pm on Monday afternoon. A 16 hour delay. They make a line for hotel vouchers and tell us to come back to the ticketing desk at noon on Monday.
It's one in the morning, LA time, when I arrive at the hotel and get checked in. That's three in the morning Minnesota time. I text my sister and my parents and collapse into bed.
Looks like this is going to be an adventure after all.