Before I share about my trip, I wanted to share my father’s trip (flights) back to Taipei, Taiwan because it was so much more interesting than my direct flight to Tokyo.
His trip started a day before mine and his itinerary to Taipei was supposed to be Charlotte, NC –> Los Angeles, CA –> Hong Kong –> Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on American Airlines with the last segment from Hong Kong to Taiwan on Cathay Pacific. What his itinerary ended up being was Charlotte, NC –> Los Angeles, CA –> Anchorage, AK –> Osaka, Japan –> Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Other than the flight from Charlotte to LA, the rest was all on a “direct” flight from LA to Taiwan on EVA Air.
Now, a little backstory before I go more in depth into this story is that my dad is a fairly unlucky flier. Stuff like this tends to happen to him more often than the average person especially if he flies solo. For whatever reason, if he’s flying with someone else in the family, it’s less likely to happen. Examples… Once he was flying back to the US from Taiwan and his first leg was Taipei to Tokyo which is I think is normally about a 3 hour flight but it took him over 30 hours due to bad weather and diverting to Osaka. The irony was it was a family trip and he left I think 2 or 3 days earlier than the rest of us because he wanted to get back early and in the end he only ended up getting back earlier by a little bit due to the mishaps en route.
As a family though, we agree that this trip was his most “amazing”. So basically, when he bought his trip he was really worried that he only had about 50 minutes to transfer in Los Angeles and would have to go from Terminal 5 to either Terminal 4 for the International Terminal (it ended up being Terminal 4) and would miss his flight. He still bought the trip because at worst, if he missed the flight, my brother or I (who live in Los Angeles and fairly close to the airport) could just pick him up and he could stay with us for the night. In the end, he did spend the night in Los Angeles but it wasn’t because of the short transfer.
His flight from Charlotte arrived only a little late and he made it over to the gate for his next flight no problem but his next flight was delayed due to a delay in loading catering if I remember correctly. Eventually though, the catering was loaded and they started pre-boarding. This was around 1 AM. But then, the pre-boarding passengers came back off the plane. Apparently the crew timed out. The flight was rescheduled to depart the next day around 3 PM. Suffice to say that is a VERY significant delay and so there was a long line to customer service to re-arrange flights.
At this point I had been texting and calling my dad since I was still up. I was determined to stay up late so I’d be able to sleep on my flight to Tokyo and I offered to pick my dad up from the airport but he insisted on staying there so he could figure out his travel arrangements. I told him to wait in line but to call American Airlines while waiting because a phone agent may be able to address his situation before his turn in line. I also gave him a few options to ask the agent for.
On a side note, it’s always a good idea to have an idea of alternative routes prior to speaking to an agent. Some agents are really good and really do their best to help you find an alternative route that works best for you while others are a bit lazy about it and give you one option that might not be the best. But if you do get an agent that doesn’t seem to really want to go out of their way to help, hang up and try again. Not all agents are equal so sometimes it’s not worth arguing with one but instead to try to reach out to another agent. Just make sure you remember the agent’s name because on a few occasions I have called back and ended up with the same agent (at which point I hang up again and re-dial).
But back to the story. My dad was able to reach a phone agent who put him on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong (still the next day) but he would have to overnight in Hong Kong before flying to Taiwan. This was not ideal considering he is already overnighting in Los Angeles but apparently many of the LA-Hong Kong flights were sold out in economy class. Luckily my dad stayed at the airport because eventually the agents at the airport agreed to put passengers on more direct flights and my dad was now flying direct to Taiwan from Los Angeles on EVA Air. EVA Air isn’t a partner of American Airlines so it’s never really their first offer but luckily there were enough annoyed people that I guess they opened up.
By the time I saw my dad’s text about his direct flight, it was already the next morning and I was getting ready to head to the airport myself. I called him and he told me he would need to wait in baggage claim for this bags so that he could re-check them with EVA Air so I agreed to meet him at baggage claim when I got to the airport. It’s a good thing he was paying attention to announcements because he later encountered other people from his flight and they had not known this so their bags did not arrive with them as they never picked them up and re-checked them.
It took a while for the bags to come out but I hung out with him while he waited and eventually they did arrive. At that point, we split back up since he needed to go to the Tom Bradley International Terminal to check-in and I had already done so and preferred to go through security through Terminal 4 since that terminal has CLEAR and TSA Pre-check (which Singapore Airlines participates in). But anyways, my dad was able to check-in and check his bags and was very happy to be on a direct flight to Taiwan.
His flight took off on time and the everything seemed to be back on track for his trip. But then, there was a medical emergency. It seems one of the passengers was very ill and so his flight re-routed to Anchorage, Alaska so they could transfer the passenger to a medical facility. The passenger was escorted off the flight and eventually they continued onwards.
While my dad is STILL on his flight, I eventually land in Tokyo, have already eaten dinner and am now with my friend at a bar drinking when I receive a text from my dad saying that they have just landed in Osaka Airport and are in the process of de-planing. Apparently, his flight crew timed out and so EVA Air is sending a new crew to Osaka to take over the flight but in the meantime the passengers need to de-board and go through security check in Osaka. We joke that who knew I would not only see him in Los Angeles, but we would both be in Japan at the same time.
The new crew arrives a few hours later and they are able to re-board and my dad FINALLY makes it to Taiwan, MANY MANY hours after his original expected arrival. And that is how a direct flight from Los Angeles to Taiwan (which was not even his original flight) becomes a 2-stop flight. Luckily, his return to the US was completely uneventful.