“I’m sorry sir but your scheduled flight was actually yesterday.”

Wait what?

But my flight was scheduled for 12:10pm today and right now it is 9:30am… what happened?

“No sir your flight was scheduled for 12:10am today and check-in was yesterday.”

Welcome to travel hell.

 

But let’s start from the beginning to understand the full extent of my 55 hour travel adventure to get from Tagum City, Philippines to my home near New York City.

Image credits: Google Maps

At 10pm Philippines time I took a bus from Tagum to Davao and it took around 2 hours.

Because my flight from Davao to Manila was scheduled at 6:30am I decided to not sleep and just went to the airport around 5:30am. I fell asleep as soon as I got on the Airphil Express plane for the whole 2 hour flight and woke up as the plane landed in Manila around 8:30am.

I had plenty of time to spare before my noon flight, but once there I soon realized that my departing flight on Asiana Airlines was in a completely different terminal.

Unlike most airports which have a fast and free shuttle or tram between terminals, in Manila you have to pay a taxi to drive you between terminals and it takes 30 minutes or more with the insane traffic. This is probably why Manila has been rated the worst airport in the world (link).

So now it was 9:30am when I finally arrived to the right Terminal and I was excited to check-in with Asiana Airlines. I get up to the counter and present a printout of my itinerary and my passport.

That’s when my world came crashing down around me.

“I’m sorry sir but your scheduled flight was actually yesterday.”

My flight was scheduled for December 16 at 12:10 AM not 12:10 PM.

Shiiiiiiiiit.

I spent the next hour asking every single airline ticketing desk if they had any availability on flights to New York City later in the day. The answer was consistently “not until tomorrow” or “pay us $2000”.

I finally made it back to the Asiana Airlines ticketing desk and found out that they had availability on the midnight flight that same night for only $970 (the same flight but a day after the one I missed). I told them I’ll take it and handed over my credit card and passport. Asiana airlines was super helpful with the whole process. Exhausted from lack of sleep and stress I put my head down on their office desk and took a nap while they processed everything.

Now it was almost noon and my flight check in wasn’t until 9:30pm. So I had to figure out what to do for the next 10 hours. I was hungry and quickly realized that the only food before the security gates in the entire terminal was just one crappy convenience stand. Once again I understood why Manila is rated the worst airport in the world.

After eating a disgusting hot dog I found a set of four empty seats and sprawled out to take a nap. Luckily I was so exhausted that I just slept for most of the 10 hours.

Now it was 9:30pm and I checked in for my flight, excited to get the hell home. Of course it wasn’t that easy though. There was a huge line at immigration and when I finally got to the counter the immigration officer told me that my visa had expired yesterday. So then I had to go over to the Cashier and pay 3000 pesos ($70) because my visa was one day over. Then I had to go to the back of the immigration line again and wait forever. Finally I made it through immigration and security by 11pm and soon after boarded my 5 hour flight from Manila, Philippines to Seoul, South Korea.

I slept for about half the flight and arrived in Incheon airport in Seoul, South Korea at 4am but my flight wasn’t until 10am. I found a set of three seats in the boarding gate, sprawled out, and took a nap for my 5 hour layover.

On a side note I haven’t visited South Korea, but based on just the airport, Korea seems like a crazy place and unique cultural experience worth checking out in the future.

They seem really uptight about bathroom cleanliness in Korea. I was halfway through washing my face in the sink when the bathroom janitor yelled at me in Korean to wipe up the water droplets around the sink with a paper towel. I obliged because I don’t know what the cultural expectations are, but I’m pretty sure the janitor is hired to clean the bathroom, not me. Definitely a 180 shift from the Philippines where a bathroom attendant would clean up the few water droplets with a smile and say “thank you sir” for patronizing their bathroom.

So now it was 9:30am and I was finally on a plane headed to New York City. But the plane was delayed, sitting an extra hour on the runway due to a faulty check-in system. I think my only saving grace in this hellish travel experience was that I was so exhausted it was easy to sleep and the time passed quickly. After an extra hour we finally took off and I slept for about 70% of the 14 hours flight and read on my kindle the rest of the time.

I landed in New York at 10:30am local time and scrambled because I had to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to catch a bus home. So I took the Airtram to Jamaica Station and then the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station. It was already 11:30am and I had to walk from Penn Station on 34th street to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd street. I got to the ticket counter just before noon and was disappointed to find out that there was no noon bus at all. The next bus left at 4pm!

Now I had 4 hours to wait for the bus so I grabbed some food and then wandered around Times Square and found my way into the Wired Magazine store (cool place to check out). At 3:30pm I headed back to the Bus Terminal, got on the bus and was finally headed home. After 2 hours the bus stopped and I had to transfer to the bus going home. Another 2 hours later and I was at the bus stop meeting my family. I was home. Finally.

So what was my total time in travel hell from Tagum City, Philippines to New York?

2 hrs – Bus From Tagum to Davao
5 hrs – Hang out in Davao, go to airport
1 hrs – In Davao airport
2 hrs – Flight Davao to Manila
13 hrs – In Manila airport
4 hrs – Flight Manila to Incheon (Seoul)
5 hrs – In Incheon airport
14 hrs – Flight from Incheon to New York City
5 hrs – In New York City
4 hrs – Bus home
———————————-
55 hrs Total Time in Travel Hell

I started on Thursday at 10pm local time (9am Thursday US East Coast time) and finally arrived home 55 hours later at 8pm Saturday US East Coast time.

Travel is not always fun.

 

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