Making the Most of a Cancelled Flight

What do you do when your flight from Hong Kong to Seattle is cancelled?  You go to Disneyland.  Obviously.

While scarfing down a less than appealing ramen airport breakfast the flight monitor switched our status from “on time” to “cancelled”, leading us to break into a run towards our gate.

I need to point out that coming from Japan to Hong Kong is jarring.  In Japan everyone waits their turn.  They don’t fuss or yell; that would draw attention to yourself and drawing attention to oneself in Japan is a bad thing.  There you remain polite, composed and calm.

In the Hong Kong airport though, everyone just gesticulates their arms around in an attempt to simulate one of those inflatable balloon men in roadside car lots.  Here people don’t remain in one line; they break into several lines for no reason other than “I don’t want to wait anymore”, bifurcating and trifurcating until no one could tell where the original line began.

Carl, the champion among men, told me to go grab coffee and a magazine while he waited.  Hong Kong’s September issue of Vogue, ginormous in size and brimming with lustrous pages seemed like a good idea at the time.  The line dwindled, the line split again and dwindled some more.  Several hours of waiting later, an announcement was made that the remaining line could leave the gate, sprint to terminal 17 for further instructions, head to gate A6 from there to find our flight status for the next day, go back through immigration, head to gate 4 downstairs with immigration documents in tow, before returning to the airline stall for a hotel voucher, upon which we’d take the hotel shuttle to our destination.

Hullo Hullah!  We started running for the next terminal but before we could leave the gate a massive airline sticker was slapped onto our arms.  Done with no explanation given, we went with it.  Most of the line that was so livid, so horribly upset to have been put in line in the first place that they did not move, just stayed in line waiting for their chance to yell at someone.  Whatever.  50% of the competition down, the last thing I need is more lines ahead.  Let’s do this.

A dozen of us boarded the airport shuttle on the way to the next terminal, whereupon everyone broke off into mini-batches.  Carl and I formed a small group with a middle aged Indian man since we had been in agreement that the voice on the microphone did indeed say “terminal 17”.  Turns out almost everyone heard something else and we all broke apart due to hearing a completely different set of instructions.

Our newfound friend agreed on the terminal number with us, but he heard E6 announced while we firmly believed it was A6.  Good luck parting words ensued, and then there were two.

I mostly blacked out for the next hour due to my coffee-instigated dehydration compiled with my lugging the 700 page and 7 lb Vogue in my arms (no I would not throw it away, due to currency conversions that baby ended up costing me ten bucks).  I just remember filling out my immigration papers with 80% X’s, as we had no idea the address we were headed to and couldn’t figure out if our visit was for “business” or “pleasure” as the card asked.  I think I ended up circling the blank space between the two options along with two s’s and a p in my moment of indecision.

The immigrations line was long and terribly intimidating, and as I was starting to curl into fetal position on the floor someone noticed the stickers on our arms and shuffled us into our own stall. And for the first time that day, I was happy.

Only one other couple from the initial flight remained on the shuttle back towards the main terminal.  They were sixtyish, bickering, and blaming each other for the cancelled flight.  At that point I knew Carl and I had won the day because we not only did we beat everyone else out of the airport, but we never ended up accusing each other of assassinating JFK, abducting the Lindbergh baby, or killing our plants due to lack of watering.  If running around an airport for half a day and not arguing five years into a relationship isn’t love then I don’t know what is.

Alone on the hotel shuttle I squeezed Carl’s hand.  It had been a shitty day, but after imagining myself dying at least 30 ways in that airport, leaving felt real real good.

For the record though, our hotel was pretty baller.  It included an indoor infinity pool and rain room (basically an ever-running shower in the middle of the hallway leading into the pool), massive hot tubs, and a buffet that included oysters and crab legs.  What’s better though is this hotel was a 20 minute drive from Disneyland Hong Kong.  After one of the most terrifying cab rides I’ve experienced we made it in 12, arriving just around 4:00pm — after having left for the airport at 7:00am.

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Know what Disneyland Hong Kong has at 4:00pm on a Thursday in September?  No lines.  We walked onto Space Mountain.  In fact, the only ride we waited for was a standard car-on-a-track deal which took all of eight minutes for us to board.  I didn’t mind the brief wait though, as I was able to people watch the rich housewives and their children ahead of us in line.  Two late twenties women, one with an MSGM leather backpack and the other with the latest Louis bag draped across her arm waited directly ahead, each with a young boy in tow.  They wound up occupying the cars before us.  Thank god those vehicles are on tracks.

The duration of their rides were spent taking endless selfies at the wheel, causing their tires to bounce off the metal bars guiding them; caught in a zigzag of a drive.  All of this occurring at eight miles an hour too, causing a Disney sized traffic pileup behind the offending autos.

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We also noticed that all the princesses here were young white women that exclusively spoke English.  A line full of 4-year-old Hong Kong/Chinese girls in Cinderella and Snow White outfits waited to be greeted by a Tinkerbell who did not speak their language, who remarked how pretty everyone’s dresses were and asked questions no one could answer.  I truly cannot say if this is what the families want though.  Like, would people be pissed if their princesses were Asian?  I wish I knew the answer to this.

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Towards dusk after getting “It’s a Small World” stuck in our heads and visiting Toy Story land we exited the park, leaving before the famous fireworks began.  And though it was only 7:00pm we were tired and hungry and just wanted to grab a bite, curl into a hot tub, then pass out for the evening.  We had a plane to catch in the morning — fingers crossed.

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