Posted on September 10, 2014


My first flight into Chicago arrived 15 minutes early, I kid you not. As I waited for the plane to finish its taxi to the gate I glanced at my watch. “Huh? 1705. Bloody hell, I could have made my 1830 flight, ” I seethed.

We slotted into a gate at Terminal C. I thought back to two weeks ago when I was pounding the terminal floor desperate to reach my gate before it shut.
“Yeah but I bet the international flight will be from another terminal and I’d would have had to run like a mad woman over to a Terminal B,” I consoled myself.

My short two hour flight saw me sat next to a real life cowboy. Stetson, shiny mock-croc leather black boots and a horrendous checked shirt with ‘Electric’ embellished on the right-hand shoulder. He had no manners whatsoever, me thinks I smell Red Neck.

I grabbed my rucksack and tried to out walk quickly avoiding the old dear who had just managed to squeeze in front of me. Nope it wasn’t gonna happen. As I moved this way and that behind her, she shuffled in the way that old people have mastered almost overnight. Straddled the imaginary left and right lane she expected everyone to fall in behind her. As we neared the opening out to the terminal I shouted “‘scuse me,” and gently nudged her over to one side to get ahead of her. There’s nothing worse than being stuck behind someone with a slow gait.

Ha, no immigration to deal with. No baggage to pick up. Buggers. I looked at the flight info board. Bloody earlier flight was on time and guess what, it was a mere six gates away. Typical!

“Relax Asha,” I told myself. “If you hadn’t rebooked you might have had a different experience.”

Chicago although a busy hub does not have a lot of areas for people to while away the hours. I found an empty gate area and plonked myself down with a couscous salad, a boiled egg and a soy cappuccino. The four hours did go pretty quick after I resigned myself to paying for wifi.

At 2030 my gate was called. Ironically it was C20, exactly were I had positioned myself. “This is surely a good omen,” I mused, even chuckled.

Oh no, no, no, don’t be fooled!!!!! This is Chicago O’Hare remember where itineraries go to die!! The powers that be were clearly not happy with my forward planning and I was about to find out how cruel fate can be.

We started boarding. After settling into my seat, aisle seat out of the middle section with no one sat next to me, I buckled up. I took out my reading material; iPad; headphones, water bottle, leftover snacks (food on United Airlines is disgusting). I have never seen radioactive looking pasta until my flight two weeks ago, but what I was served on the way over would make dinner time in Fukishima look bland. Since when is tomato sauce the colour of Tango?

The usual safety malarky was run through via the minuscule TV screen embedded into the back of the chair’s headrest except halfway through it cut out. Oh what a shame – not. They tried to reboot it and there was a problem. And then that problem became my problem and then it became everyone’s problem.

At 2150, yes we hadn’t taken off yet (was scheduled to fly at 2115) we were told there was a technical issue and we had to go back to the bleedin’ gate for it to be fixed. Pilot tells us we are waiting on technical staff and a battery and then paper work blah blah blah. We are not moving for at least another hour. I am clawing the carpet.

At 2205 I get a text message from a London number from United Airlines telling me my flight is delayed. No shit Sherlock. Seriously? I know that because I’ve been on the frickin plane sat on the tarmac for an hour!!


I was so cross I actually replied. Not that I expect anyone reads them. It’s likely to be automated. I will be sending an angry email when I hit the UK.


In the hour and a half that has passed we have been offered revolting sugary biscuits and water by a poe-faced trolley dolly. Roll out the Bourbon love. We all need something a wee bit stronger. A lacklustre apology and general aloofness by staff.


As I sit here in the dark bashing out this blogpost steam is coming out of my ears. The irony of trying to mitigate against disaster just failed. How is that possible?!

My chemistry teacher used to say, “Failing to plan is like planning to fail,” a phrase my mother repeated to us during my childhood. I think in the normal world perhaps yes, but in the weird twisted Bermuda Triangle that is Chicago O’Hare where “itineraries go to die”, it’s clear anything is possible!

The flight eventually took off close to midnight (3 hours on the tarmac) and I landed back in Blighty at 1400 today – what a palaver!

Posted in: Branching out