Stranded on Oahu: Lessons Learned from a Missed Flight

Stranded on Oahu: Lessons Learned from a Missed Flight |

With our careful planning and attention to detail, we never seem to think we might have a flight cancelled on us, or that we might actually miss a flight.  However, the truth is, it’s inevitable and we can’t predict and control all of our circumstances.

On our most recent travel day back home from Oahu (after an amazing week spent mostly on the North Shore), we left ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport, return our rental car, check-in for our flight, and get on our way to Seattle.

Unfortunately, as soon as we entered Oahu’s busiest highway, the H-1, we were met with complete gridlock.  After many frustrating minutes of little to no progress, we got out our trusty maps (we still bring along old-fashioned paper maps) and tried to detour around the traffic

Once we figured out our new route, exited the highway, and began traveling in the right direction, we quickly realized that the same congested situation was occurring on every single road and side street in this entire region of the island.  Frustration to the max.

With some research on our phones, we learned that a fatality accident had shut down the highway for some time, and consequentially turned a normally quiet and relatively easy mid-morning drive to the airport into a slow, torturous crawl.

We decided to give up on the side streets and eventually (this took quite a while) made our way back to the highway.  It wasn’t letting up.  Time was ticking by.  We were now getting dangerously close to our flight departure time.  We started to make some phone calls.

First up: Alaska Airlines.  We needed to inform them of our situation and get some advice. Tip: Don’t wait too long. Be realistic.  If you think you’re going to miss your flight–call.  It was almost a relief when the customer service agent told us that there was just no way we would make the flight in the time we had left.  At least we knew for sure what would happen.

From there, she worked with us to schedule a new flight out the next day—same schedule, one day late.

Then we made more phone calls: the car rental company, the dog boarders and Slaed’s work. Tip: Take some time and go through a mental checklist of all the parties you need to inform of your change of plans. Aside from those mentioned, we also contacted the airport parking company back home and Bergen’s preschool.  

Then we finally got down to the business of finding a hotel to stay at in Honolulu.  Tip: For these situations alone, it’s worth it to join those hotel rewards programs to start earning points.  More hotel savings tips here.  

Stranded on Oahu: Lessons Learned from a Missed Flight |

No wallowing in self pity for us. We took advantage and extended our vacation!

It wasn’t the end of the world by any means.  There are worse places to be “stuck” than Hawaii, right? We feel very appreciative of Alaska Airlines’ understanding of our situation.  The representative easily booked another flight for us, worked hard to get us a new seating assignment (sitting together), and to our relief we were not charged a penny extra.  We made the most of the situation, and had a blast “living it up” on the island for one more night.

We are fairly precise in our packing, so from this experience, we learned that it may be best to pack extras of items you need each day.  There were a few things that we forgot that would have been handy, so we came up with a quick list to pass along. It’s a be-prepared-for-the-unexpected packing list!

Flight Change Checklist:

  • Pack Extra Vitamins-If you are a regular supplement taker (like we are), it’s worth the tiny amount of extra space to pack another day or two supply of your regiment.
  • Pack Extra Medications-You probably know this if you are dealing with something life threatening, but even if not, it’s just a good idea for piece of mind to have a few extra doses of your medications handy.
  • Pack Extra Diapers/Pull-ups– If you have young children still in diapers during any point of the day, bring along a few more than you’ll need.  Sure you can purchase diapers just about any where, but a few extra will not take up a lot of space, and will save you time and annoyance in the event you need one right away.
  • General Toiletries-Most hotels will have you covered with soap, shampoo, etc, but we were glad that we actually did not toss our nearly empty tube of travel toothpaste while packing up that morning.  We had just enough to last us the extra day.  Always a good idea to have a few things on hand so, again, you aren’t stuck running around for supplies.
  • Do Laundry When You Can!-We took full advantage of the washer/dryer at our rental house on the North Shore, and we are so glad we did.  Not the worst thing ever to spend a day in dirty clothes, but we were pretty happy to have our suitcases nearly full with clean clothes.  Of course it also makes the transition home from vacation-mode to everyday-mode that much easier.

Ever missed a flight forcing you to stay an extra night away from home? Tell us your story!

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8 thoughts on “Stranded on Oahu: Lessons Learned from a Missed Flight

    • Thanks, Mae! We love that the maps really help us get a feel for the locale rather than just blindly following the computer’s street by street directions.

  1. Slaed doesn’t look upset at all about missing the flight. Thanks for the tips. Paper maps are very handy for those times when the GPS dies and your phone runs out of batteries, as I’ve unfortunately learned the hard way. We missed a connecting flight to Hawaii once because our 1st flight was delayed, forcing us to hang out in the vicinity of LAX for 7 hours until the next flight out. The plane was still at the gate at LAX, but the door to the jetway was closed, and they wouldn’t let us on. The weird part is that our luggage made our original flight and ended up hanging out in baggage claim in Hawaii until we showed up.

    • We got over the “disappointment” pretty quickly, Michele! 🙂 So glad it didn’t turn out to be a waiting in the airport thing–that sounds rough 😦 So glad your luggage arrived safe and sound!
      Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

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