“Each time we travel to a new place, we get new inspirations and ideas.
The first we do anything new, we are often overwhelmed with fear. But I think, if other people have done this, so why can’t I?”
It all sounded wonderful in the planning stages.
Emirates tickets Singapore to JFK via Dubai were booked since February. Before I get the plan started, it takes Herculean effort to get organized, speak to teachers to get the dates of the important school holiday activities that cannot be missed. By early June, all accommodations booked, most of them prepaid. 5 star hotels, inns, boutique hotel, cottage by the river, backpackers lodge, university hostel. Last of all is the car we were hesitant to book in Las Vegas, confirmed by Avis. The other two car rentals were confirmed earlier by Advantage-Rent-A-Car in late-May.
For the flights, the domestic sectors, we travel Delta from JFK to Las Vegas, Alaska from Las Vegas to Seattle and Seattle to Newark.
The first huddle we have to cross is the connecting time at JFK from Emirates and Delta is only 2 hours 5 minutes.
Question is not whether our chances of encountering airline snafus are high; it’s how to avoid or at least mitigate the problems.
I start to get anxious one day before flight departure. I warn my husband and sons to consider taking only carry-on luggage so we don’t have to worry about losing luggage during transit in Dubai or waiting to claim at JFK Airport. But they are against it. Despite their refusal, I pack my clothes are in a hand-carry bag.
What happen if we miss our Delta flight to Las Vegas?
The consequence. A missed connection would have resulted in USD894 paid for the original flight gone to waste, spending the entire morning and afternoon on airport floor, hours in lines, more hours on enquiry and USD1000-USD2000 in extra expenses purchasing a new set of tickets to the next flight in the evening, provided they have 5 seats for us.
Next question, isn’t it cheaper to abandon our luggage? Tough question.
This is the fact. If something within our control causes us to miss the connection, we are essentially on our own. Airlines don’t generally assume responsibility for missed connections on two separate tickets. In our case, we book one leg of our trip on Emirates, and the second ticket on Delta, Delta will not take responsibility if Emirate’s flight doesn’t get us to the connecting airport on time.
Is 2 hours a reasonable time between flights? New York JFK Airport is a large and notoriously busy airport with 6 operating terminals out of 8 on site and it’s our first time! The only good thing we find out is our connecting flight is at the same terminal, Terminal 4. I call Emirates and Delta find out. Their advice is to give 3 hours allowance in between flights. This advice is like rubbing salt in wound!
On the Emirates flight from Singapore to Dubai EK355, a passenger lost her passport while boarding. Welcome to the aggravating world of Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Flight gives her 20 minutes to look for the passport.
Are you kidding? It’s the first time I hear about the entire A380 close to 500 passengers anxious to make a connection in Dubai Airport waiting for one person? I empathize with her, nothing I can do but to remain calm. My husband says the pilot can increase speed to arrive on time. I keep my fingers cross and hope he’s right.
Landing at Dubai is uneventful. The delay at Singapore isn’t affecting us much, just like my husband says. We are familiar with Dubai Airport as we came before in 2011 when travelling to Egypt and stopover at Dubai.
Journey is enjoyable. Flight from Dubai to JFK EK203 lands at 8:25am. We ran frantically to the immigration clearance. This is quite fast. By 9am we are at the luggage claim hall. Another mistake: I did not take into consideration that the huge A380 with more than 400 economy class passengers on board, it also means more than expected quantity of luggage handled. 9:30am, we collect our luggage. 1 hour is gone.
Running frantically from luggage reclaim hall to the Delta Air connecting flight counter, the wait at the queue is like eternity. When it is our turn, the staff, Nathalie asks for exact change. It is USD25 each for our 2 bags, but I can give her $60. Time is pressing. After failed attempts to get smaller denominations from other passengers, I ask her to keep the extra $10. She refuses. Nathalie then reaches out for her bag, takes out her lunch money from a purse to change for us. We’re really thankful to Nathalie, one of the first few people we meet in the United States.
We are shocked to see the long lines at the security checkpoint and the repeated checks on our passports and boarding pass. It;’s really strict. Another mistake I make is to queue at a line that is different from my family. I have myself to blame as my water bottle contains water. I have to go to the back of queue, finishes the water and queue again. Wait, wait, wait…. It’s like an eternity…. and this is what seems to take the old guy at the security tv is doing too. A man in front of me says to me, “This guy is very slow.”, I reply, “Yes, He’s slow.”. The immigration officer forward and backward the conveyor belt and stare at the tv screen for long time. While my family members clear theirs and waiting for me outside the checkpoint, all I can do is to wait for my bag, shoes to come out from the x-ray area. Tension reaches boiling point. I can’t wait for a moment to wear my shoes when I clear mine. With just socks on my feet, I race down the escalator, corridor. Curious onlookers wonder what this Asian family of five is doing at the airport. We are just in time for boarding.
After 30 hours 18 minutes since our flight departure, we arrive at Las Vegas. We are glad we do not need to execute Plan B. Phew!
When we’re returning to JFK and went through the same immigration checkpoints, we look back at the escalator, the corridor we ran and laugh at ourselves what an action episode we play when we first arrive the United States.
Travel taught me that it’s difficult to make a change when you’re dragging around a baggage. It’s the uncertainty and inability to plan is what we travelers dread.
The luggage, the screening can be either for five minutes or an hour.