One adage that I could not forget had only four words: “Better late than never.” When I told my teacher about it, she corrected me by adding four more words: “It’s better never late.”
That is why when my editors give me an assignment, I usually submit it two to three days in advance. However, there was one time I failed to deliver what my boss wanted me. But it was not my fault, though. When I asked him when he needed the documents, he replied, “Yesterday.” Well, he forgot to give me the letter two days before the deadline.
Now talking about traveling, one of the horrible things that should not happen to you is going to the airport late. “At one time, I missed my plane,” a friend told me, “because I wasn’t able to wake up early.” The night before he was to fly to Europe, he attended a birthday party and went home very late. The worst thing occurred. “It won’t happen to me again,” he promised. “Never!”
If you arrive late at the airport, there are several consequences you will have to undergo. The first thing is you will be denied in embarking your plane (even if you are late for only 30 minutes and the plane is still there!). Your next option: take the next plane out – either that same day or the following day and depending upon the availability of seat. Also, you have to add more cash to what you have previously paid – that’s the price of being late!
But the worst thing is when you are traveling that same day and has a connecting flight in the next destination. Welcome to your worst nightmare; stress is to tame to use. You will encounter all the hassles of rebooking your flight schedule, begging and distraught, staying late at the airport (hoping you can catch another plane), and spending a day or two in a hotel. If there’s someone who will pick you at the final destination, hope and pray that he will still be there when you arrive late or the next day.
Now, what if your plane is late? There are several things that will happen as well. Generally, the company will book you for another flight. When my plane was cancelled, Northwest Airlines transferred me to Canada Airlines for my trip to Montreal.
If the plane is very late and the delay is too much to bear, some airlines offer their customers hot meals and ticket discounts (should you want to fly again with the same airline in the future). Those were things that Northwest Airlines provided me when our plane got stranded in Narita International Airport in Japan for several hours. They also gave me a phone ticket which I could use to call once I was at the airport of my destination in the United States.
If it’s already late at night and there’s no plane available, the company will bring you to a hotel nearby where you can have your dinner and sleep. It happened to me when our plane bound from Manila to Davao was cancelled. The following day, when we were flying, I noticed the guy whom I talked with the other night was nowhere. I had two possible theories: he may have slept well in his hotel room and forgot to wake up early (thus he missed the plane) or he finally cancelled his trip.
There are several stories about being late when traveling. However, being late doesn’t always mean bad. Look at the brighter side. Let me share you a story that happened to me when I was flying from Columbus, Ohio to Livingston, Montana to visit my sister and her family. It was winter time and I had to make a stopover at the airport in Saint Paul/Minneapolis. When we were about to land, the captain told us that we had to wait flying up the air for sometime because the landing area had to be cleaned since it was laden with snow.
As there was no direct flight from Saint Paul/Minneapolis to Livingston, Montana, I had to fly to Seattle, Washington then to Bozeman, Montana, where my sister was waiting. When we were about to land in Seattle, I noticed that I had only thirty minutes left to find my plane. Once we had touched down, I squeezed myself out of the plane and immediately ran to the waiting area. But when I got there, the attendant told me that my plane was transferred to another building. “Go south, ride an escalator down, and wait for a train,” she instructed me. “Ride on that train and once it opens again, go out. That’s the building where you can find your plane.”
I did what she instructed me. Alone in the train, I looked my watch. The remaining time was only five minutes. “Will the plane wait for me?” I wondered. When the train opened, I went out right away and took the escalator going up. Then, I tried to find the waiting area for my plane. When I found it, I saw no people making a queue. The attendant was already cleaning the desk.
I was totally appalled. “I missed my plane,” I thought. But even then, I still managed to ask the attendant. “Is this the waiting area bound for Bozeman?” I inquired. The attendant smiled and answered, “Yes, Sir.” Then, she went on, “I am very much sorry, Sir, but…” and before I can say anything, “the plane is delayed for about 45 minutes due to snow storm.”
Now, I was smiling. “That’s alright,” I said. She must be wondering why I was smiling when other passengers were complaining. If only she knew the reason!
Talking about delay, allow me to share this anecdote which appeared in Reader’s Digest’s “Laughter, The Best Medicine”:
Three turtles, Joe, Steve, and Poncho, decide to go on a picnic. Joe packs the picnic basket with bottled drinks and sandwiches. It takes them ten days to reach the picnic site, which is one kilometer away. When they arrive, all three are tired and hungry. Joe empties the basket and realizes that he didn’t pack a bottle opener.
The three tried to talk with each as to who should get the bottle opener. After it’s finally agreed that Joe and Steve won’t start eating until his return, Poncho sets off down the road to retrieve the opener.
Twenty days pass with no sigh of Poncho. Joe and Steve are starving – but a promise is a promise. After waiting for four more days and still no sign of Poncho, Steve gets restless. “I need food!,” he cries out.
“No,” Joe replies. “We promised.” Five more days pass. Joe reasons that Poncho probably stopped to eat along the way, so they each grab a sandwich from the basket and start munching away.
Jus then, Poncho pops out from behind a rock. “I know it, I know it,” he yells. “Because of what you have done, I’m not going!”
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