I don’t think during our childhood years we would ever have envisioned traveling on Christmas Day, but this year was a first for both of us as we had our belated honeymoon trip to Australia planned for the Christmas and New Year holiday season. With our itinerary planned seeing us fly out of Little Rock via Dallas, Los Angeles and finally Brisbane, we packed pretty light given that this time of year was summer in the Land of Oz. All of our planning and organization was going smoothly until Christmas Eve when we checked the weather forecast and noticed blizzard like conditions were forecast for the Christmas Day festivities. Perfect for the locals who wanted the stereotypical ‘White Christmas’ but not so much for the travelers who wanted to get to their final destinations without any delays.
Update 1:00PM (Central Time)
We are currently airborne en route to Dallas, TX after a short delay in Little Rock. We beat the snow after booking an earlier flight, thanks to a very helpful American Airlines assistant but we were fortunate to leave the runway just before the mass delays began in the Arkansas capital. Prior to departure, we learned that our next connecting flight from DFW to LAX was cancelled, so we are currently pondering if we will be able to catch an earlier flight or how this is going to work. At least we have a long layover in LA before leaving for Brisbane but that time was supposed to be for relaxation, not more traveling!!
Update 7:00PM (Central Time)
So I would love to be blogging right now about everything that has happened in between now and our earlier blog but unfortunately it has been a day worth forgetting! However, our spirits are still high as we are still hopeful that we will be able to get out of Dallas tonight and on our way to Australia. To give a brief update on what has happened, whenever we got off the plane at DFW around 1:45PM we collected our checked bag and then headed to the nearest AA desk for assistance given that our scheduled 3:30PM flight to LA had been cancelled. To our delight the AA representative was particularly helpful and informed us that he had out us on Qantas Flight #8 direct to Brisbane from DFW leaving at 10:00PM. A long wait ahead beckoned but we knew that time would pass quickly and we would be able to grab a bite to eat. As we wandered outside to catch the shuttle to terminal D, we noticed the weather rapidly deteriorating. The snow was falling rather quickly and it was obvious Dallas was not a metropolis ready and prepared for any amounts of icy precipitation. To put what happened over the next few hours into perspective, the weather caused havoc!! Over 160 flights were cancelled and numerous were delayed because of the poor conditions. We had problems checking into our Qantas flight because apparently we had to wait until later as they were not yet available. We spoke with another AA representative and she gave us yet another option to catch a flight to LAX at 7:15PM and then hop on the Brisbane flight that we were initially scheduled for at 11:50PM. We opted for this option after speaking with several folks who informed us the Qantas flight on Christmas Eve was cancelled. With the weather getting worse and no signs of improvement, we knew that our best bet was to head west to Los Angeles ‘hopefully’ and then catch our flight to Australia from there.
We ventured through security and after deciding to grab a bite to eat from McDonald’s (perfect Christmas lunch right?) we checked our phones and noticed the unthinkable… The flight to LAX was cancelled!! Everything was supposed to be perfect at Christmas especially on our honeymoon but things appeared to be going from bad to worse on this trip. I went to the gate to check on the status and they told me that unfortunately all the remaining flights to LAX were full tonight. Our final option was for them to put us back on the Qantas flight direct to Brisbane and hopefully it would go ahead and depart as scheduled.
As I am writing this right now, we are two hours away from our scheduled departure. The flight is apparently not full at this point and is still scheduled to leave, so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope we have some Christmas luck on our side!
Update 12:45AM on December 26 (Central Time)
We are finally on our way to Brisbane, Australia!! What a day it has been since we left Jonesboro over 17 hours ago embarking on this journey. We boarded the Qantas 747-400 plane at 9:30PM and have sat around at the gate and on the runway for almost 3 hours waiting for air traffic control clearance and then the arduous, lengthy process of de-icing the plane. One thing is for sure, Dallas is certainly not an airport prepared for snow or ice given the number of cancellations that occurred earlier today. Anyway, all that is the past now as we are on our way, a mere 16 hour flight ahead of us but at least we are heading in the right direction. I think both of us are exhausted right now but one great thing we have noticed about this plane so far is that it is relatively empty and there are plenty of seats free. This is my first experience on a true long haul flight and I am envious of those in first class that get to experience the upper flight deck on this 747. Maybe one day when we have earned enough frequent flyer miles we can do that but for now, we will cope with economy class!
Update 1:30AM (Central Time)
The flight attendants on this Qantas flight have so far been very helpful and friendly. They informed all of us that as soon as we are at cruising altitude and the fasten seat belts signs are turned off, we are free to move around the plane and sit where we like. The exit row seats directly in front of us were free so as soon as the seat belt sign was off, we moved forward to take advantage of the extra leg room.
A late night meal was brought around and I actually think this was one of the best I have sampled whilst traveling. Texas BBQ brisket with mashed potatoes and vegetables along with the usual salad, dessert and role accompaniment. I am not sure if Heather was too excited by the food selection but I am putting that down to fatigue more than anything else. This may be the last update for a while as we are now going to try and sleep for a few hours to pass away some of this long flight!