I had a BRILLIANT week leading worship at New Wine 2008, an amazing worship and teaching event in the UK. I left the conference to drive to Heathrow and from then on things just got crazier and crazier…
The plane had 3 different mechanical faults and sat on the tarmac in London for over 3 hours before it even took off, with us all on board as they tried to fix it. Seven hours later we descended into JFK but couldn’t land because of storms. Circling for 2 hours drained fuel, so the pilot announced we needed to make an emergency landing in Boston or we would totally be out of gas.
Touching down in Boston, we were denied a parking gate as they were full with other storm re-directed international flights. Assigned a space in the cargo area, we parked amid warehouses, old vehicles and palettes. Boston then denied us entrance to deplane anywhere as we were unexpected and their customs could not handle us. JFK refused to let us take off from Boston and head their way as weather had caused so many flight delays that their customs and flight re-booking areas were now under police control as people had got aggressive.
So stuck in the cargo area of Boston airport, we sat trapped in the plane on the tarmac for nine hours with no proper AC or food/water supplies. Children were throwing up, people were shouting and demanding answers. The pilot, desperate for answers from either JFK or Boston received neither, and pushed both so hard for a solution when both were denying responsibility, that they threatened to take away his flying credentials. The temperature rose to a point where all the plane doors had to be opened, but we were told anyone jumping out onto the wings would be arrested immediately as an internationally non-customs cleared criminal.
Customers at the end of their sanity made a phone-call to a Boston TV channel reporting that we were unable to leave the plane, and therefore were being held hostage by the airports, without water or air for 9 hours. Apparently a newsflash went out across Boston TV, questioning whether our plane, Delta DL4 from Heathrow was indeed in a hostage situation! Thankfully it was not.
Eventually we were deplaned and taken through customs in Boston which was a ghost town at 1am. We were then told we had to get straight back on the same plane as Boston would not be able to fly us anywhere for several days if we stayed, due to a backlog of other travelers. So awaiting the same plane to be fixed, cleaned and re-crewed was our only option. Held in a waiting area with MacDonald vouchers we all pretty much passed out, strewn across the floor with our bags. Kids were crying and people ate their MacDonalds silently just desperate to be anywhere but there. Finally departing Boston at 2am we arrived in a deserted JFK at 3am and were sent through lines for vouchers and re-booking for another hour. Assigned a hotel several miles away we were sent onto the AirTran train to a waiting point for a hotel shuttle on a dark street corner. The hotel shuttle didn’t show up for 45 minutes. After a long line to check into the hotel I was told there were not enough rooms as Delta had over-sent passengers. Eventually I got a bed for a few hours before setting out for JFK again to get the final leg of my flight on to Buffalo NY. Seriously it felt like some kind of nightmare and travels problems continued again all the following day as I headed to Buffalo!
Read the timeline and see it all…. P.s. thanks for reading all this… I feel like downloading to you all about how stressful it was is very healing somehow!!