Our trip home from Japan was quite possibly the worst traveling experience that I have ever had. Our little St. Isabelle Clare provided what I would consider to be a miracle to get us home, and for that I am thankful.
First, you need a little background on our return trip back to the States. Our trip began with a two-hour drive (due to traffic) from Iwakuni to Hiroshima. From Hiroshima we took an hour and a half plane ride to Tokyo. Our flight from Tokyo to Newark, New Jersey was about twelve and a half hours long. (Yes, you read that correctly – TWELVE and a half hours long.) By the time we walked into the Newark airport, Matt and I were already very tired. The plan was to then fly to Raleigh where we would arrive around 10:30pm and sleep at my sister-in-law’s house for the night before driving the rest of the way home. However, United Airlines had other plans.
While waiting on our flight to Raleigh, we were told that there was a slight delay due to a late inbound crew and that United would keep us posted. Over the course of the hour, the delay increased, and the flight was eventually canceled due to “weather.” Great. We were directed to a United Airlines costumer service counter where we proceeded to wait in line for an hour. Over the course of that hour, only a couple of people were helped. After an hour of waiting, the two (yes, only two), customer service representatives stood up, put their jackets on, and left. They didn’t say a word to the long line of people about where to go or what to do; they just simply left. It was very strange and incredibly frustrating.
This is a video my husband recorded of the customer service reps leaving the desk without a saying a word:
We had been traveling for over twenty-four hours at this point. We eventually figured out where another service desk was and waited in yet another line for several hours. During this time, after two phone calls and some time on hold, we were informed that there were absolutely no flights into Raleigh, through any airlines, with seats available until Monday. We were put on a 6 AM flight to Charlotte with US Airways and would have to figure how to get to Raleigh on our own. When we eventually got to the front of the line, we were told again by a third person that there were no flights to Raleigh and that he couldn’t help us with figuring out where our bags were located. Very helpful – thank you, United Airlines.
Since it was now 1 AM, we had no choice but to stay at the airport. At 3:30 AM, after looking at bus schedules, Amtrak schedules, and rental car prices from Charlotte to Raleigh, we headed to the United Airlines baggage claim desk. Even though I’m sure our bags were on the other side of the desk area with the other cancelled flight baggage, the woman told us that they couldn’t help us until 6:00am. Since our flight left at 6:10am, this was pretty useless. (Matt’s bag is still MIA.) We then headed to the US Airways counter to check into our Charlotte flight.
After waiting in line, we unsuccessfully tried to check in. There was an issue with our tickets. All I could think was YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! To say that we were exhausted and frustrated at this point would be an understatement. We just wanted to get out of New Jersey and go home! Eventually we were assisted by a woman who typed on the computer trying to figure out what was wrong with our tickets. As we stood there, I begged my daughter for a miracle.
As soon as I was done praying, the woman assisting us asked why were flying to Charlotte if our original destination was Raleigh. We told her that three different people from United Airlines informed us that there were no flights to Raleigh with seats until Monday. The woman then informed us, rather confused looking, that there was a flight leaving for Raleigh an hour after we arrived in Charlotte with seats available. Praise God! My daughter is a truly a saint and a miracle worker. We desperately wanted to at least make it to Charlotte, and St. Isabelle Clare got us all the way to Raleigh. Thank you, God, for my amazing daughter who, after we spent nearly 12 hours in the Newark airport and faced countless obstacles, pulled a miracle for us.
I have written on several occasions about how we believe that our daughter is truly a saint and prays for us in heaven. (See For All the Saints and Isabelle’s Stocking) She clearly has God’s ear and is looking out for us. Our airport adventure further proves this.
After vowing never to fly United Airlines again, we finally hopped on two U.S. Airways planes and eventually made it home. We were completely exhausted, and poor Matt had to work today, but we are safe and finally back where we started. Stay tuned – I will post tomorrow about our many amazing adventures in Florida and Japan.