Sunday, October 20, 2013

Don't Ever Miss a Flight Out of Singapore

In August of 2013 I was sent on a business trip to Singapore for one week. I will detail this trip on a future Blog post. This post is to highlight a lesson learned about missing a flight out of Changi airport to head home.

I was scheduled on a Delta Flight out of Singapore that was scheduled to depart at 5:25am on a Saturday. I was staying at a hotel in downtown Singapore. However, I had checked out of that hotel Friday morning. I left my bags at the hotel and went to work for the day. I was able to get out of work a little early. I had picked up my bags at the hotel at around 3:30pm and took the MRT (Metro) to the airport. I had made reservations at the Crowne Plaza at the airport. The intent was to shorten my journey for the early morning flight.

I checked into the hotel around 4:15pm. They had upgraded me into a large one bedroom suite. Sadly it did not overlook the runways at the airport as some room had, but the room was great otherwise (with 1.5 bathrooms). I decided to head back into Singapore for dinner and see if I could get some gifts. So I took the MRT back into town to do just that.

I got back to the hotel around 9:30pm. I stopped for a beer at the lounge since the hotel had given me a free drink coupon due to my elite status. By 10:15pm I was back in my room. I had a couple of business calls to make, plus prep my packing for a quick exit in the morning. I was lights out by 11:00pm.

I just could not get my mind to shutdown to go to sleep. I must have woke up every 30 minutes or so. I had set my iPhone Alarm Clock app to go off at 3:00am. I had looked at my iPhone clock at 2:00pm, but tried to get some more sleep. I had been waking up at 3:00am every night previous, so thought it was low risk, plus the alarm. The next time I rolled over and looked at the clock, and it showed it was 4:02 am, with the display showing the alarm was going off, but no audio. I paniced.

I quickly got dressed, zipped up my bags and went down to checkout. Got to the airport terminal area just to find out that the internal train system to take me from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 does not start running until 5am. I tried to figure out how to walk there, but it turns out there is no direct walkway from T3 to T1 on the land side. I ran back to the hotel to ask what to do. They stated there was a bus that I could take. I went to the bus stop just as a Taxi pulled up to drop someone off. I asked if he could take me to Terminal 1. He said hop in. I threw my suitcase in the trunk. 5 minutes later, and nearly $10 later we were in front of T1.

I ran inside to the Delta Ticket Counters which was just about empty. Time was 4:30am. The security check guy stated I may have a problem as the flight was closed. I went up to the ticket counter, and indeed, the flight was closed, and my seat had been given away. I nearly had a breakdown. It just got worse. I was informed that the next available Delta flight was Monday morning, two days from now. I had made arrangement for my wife to meet in Seattle for the weekend. She was schedueld to take a train and we had train tickets to return home, plus hotel reservations. I almost lost it. I apoligized to the ticket agents, as it wasn't their fault, I was mad at myself.

The ticket agents then started working on possibilities. They then made arrangements to put me on ANA to Tokyo (Narita) that evening, with a transfer to a Delta flight to Seattle from Tokyo (Haneda) with 18 hour ground time in Tokyo. It was better than staying until Monday. I had asked if they could route me directly to Portland, but that was not "allowed" on my ticket. I took the reservation with the flight schedule to fly out 12:30am about 20 hours from this point as it was 9around 5:15am now.

I got onto the airport wifi and purchased an Alaska Airline ticket from Seattle to Portland. I was able to cancel our train tickets, only losing $5, and cancelled the Seattle hotel with no fees. I was able to call my wife and let her in on the situation. She wasn't super upset about the Seattle trip (in some ways I think she was relieved), only concerned that I was exhausted and she was missing me.

But now what to do, it is 6am, and I didn't need to check into my flight until 9pm or so, and I was exhausted. I decided to go back to the Crowne Plaza hotel and see if they would give me my room back since I had paid for it until 11am checkout. The airport trains were running now, so getting back to the hotel was easy. I went to the front desk at the hotel, Not only did they allow me to check back in, but they allowed me stay until 4pm if I wanted to, with no fees.  So I went back to my old room, and tried to get some sleep.

By about 12:30pm I was unable to get anymore rest. I got some lunch then decided to check-out. I left my suitcase and large backpack at the hotel and just brought my small (geocaching) backback and headed back into Singapore. I did some more touring around town which will be covered in a seperate post. By 8pm I headed back to the airport to get my bags at the hotel and head to Terminal 2.

At 9pm I went up to the ANA counter to check-in. Now problem # 2 started. Delta had never confirmed my reservation, so I did not have a seat and the flight was full. They tried to contact Delta, but getting nowhere. They told me to come back at minight to see if a seat was available. I asked for a pass into the Transit area of the airport, but they refused. So I was stuck on the land side of the airport. I was pretty upset and getting very exhausted again. I pretty much hung around the airport got some dinner and pretty depressed.

By 10:30pm, I went back to the ticket counters. This time the agent handed me a boarding pass, Delta had come thru!! I was even able to enter my US-Airway FF # since ANA is part of Star Alliance not Skyteam (Delta). I went thru passport control and was on the air side of the airport in no time. The flight left on time at 12:30am Sunday morning.

We landed at Narita airport on time around 8am Sunday. My next flight was scheduled for 1:30am Monday out of Haneda Airport. So I went around Tokyo which will be covered in a seperate post. I arrived at Haneda airport at 9:30pm. Being hot and humid in Tokyo I was feeling pretty yucky. Luckily Haneda airport shower available for about $10 for 30 minutes. this was a godsend. I was able to take a shower and change clothes. My flight left on time at 1:30am Monday to Seattle. I arrived in Seattle at around 3pm on Sunday (yes backwards). I had to go to the land side of the airport to check in to my Alaska (Horizon) flight to Portland. I had about 2 hours to kill so had dinner. Got to Portland on-time and my wife picked me up at the curb to head home. What a long 48 hours....

Note to self, NEVER miss a flight out of Singapore again....