So, we’re at the beginning of our journey. It’s a nice Saturday, leaving at 5am from our hometown to drive up to CLT to wait for our flight that will take us to IAD. The dog had been dropped off at the sitter’s, the cats had been taken care of, all of our final things falling into place as they should. The last few days had been pretty busy, and like the procrastinators we are, we didn’t get finished packing until the day before we left. We were very lucky that we didn’t forget anything.
My parents rode with us up and took my car back with them, which was pretty nice, to be honest. We left with two suitcases (this will be important later in our journey), one with a folded-up duffel bag crammed inside it. Our flight was planned to leave at 10:40 am, and like the good kids we are, we arrived by 7:45 am to make sure we didn’t miss our flight. CLT was a pretty nice airport, though weirdly sparse for a Saturday morning, I feel. We were ready for our adventures in Japan!
Around 9:30 am, my phone goes off with two alerts about our flight- the first said the plane was on the way to get us, and the second said the plane was running about 10 minute behind. Okay. Weird, but okay. A system glitch. That’s cool. Monitor says it’s on time, so no big deal…. Right?
~If you want to skip Earl Grey Tea debacle, please skip ahead~
10:30 am rolls around and the flight to IAD has now been delayed until 11:30 am. Our flight from IAD to NRT was leaving at 11:50 am. So, funny enough, we weren’t going to make our flight to Japan at this rate! Also, funny enough, our airline hadn’t bothered to mention this to ANY of the passengers that were waiting for us, nor had they changed the time on their arrival board. We had to go look at the screen that had all of the flights listed to find out that the flight was running behind after our phones consistently went off with contradicting messages. The airline (United, I should add. Don’t ever fly United) was fighting people about finding another flight. What the heck! To the man’s defense, I don’t believe he had ever dealt with anything like this before.
After waiting in a line (that we prematurely entered, since they were only calling up the ‘first class’ passengers), we were told that we would not be leaving from the USA to Japan the same day, as previously planned, but we would still be flying to IAD. Wes had to fight the man just to get a hotel room- they were going to leave us stranded from an error that their pilot had made. At this point, we are so disheartened that we honestly just wanted to go home. We ended up not leaving CLT until after 1 pm due to MORE delays, bringing us into IAD around 3:30 pm.
We had been told to talk to the United staff at the airport… but they were nowhere to be found. We couldn’t leave the baggage area because our baggage hadn’t come, and there were no United terminals. The information desk even told us that they didn’t know where we should go! It was all pretty ridiculous at this point. Finally, we were pointed toward the only stand on that side of the airport- baggage claim.
The woman was nice, thankfully. She was able to help us without sending us away to someone else. Unfortunately, our baggage was marked to go to Japan without us. Which meant that they hadn’t taken it off the plane. If we hadn’t had this lucky break, we would have been without our things for the night, and who knows if we would have found it by the time we actually DID make it to NRT. Anyway, she was nice enough to give us a hotel room and four food passes to get by for the night (The passes were for $10 each, and we could only eat at the airport or hotel, both of which weren’t cheap). It took almost 45 minutes to get our bags. We took a shuttle, made it to the hotel and didn’t know what to do then.
~If you left, welcome back! (TL;DR: We got stranded in DC after our flight was heavily delayed and paid for a night in Japan that we didn’t use)~
Interestingly enough, I’d actually never been to Washington D.C. It’s somewhere I’d always wanted to go, honestly. We were staying less than three minutes away from the airport, and while we were in D.C., we weren’t in ‘D.C.’ Frickin’ downtown D.C. was 45 minutes away! It really, really sucked. We could Uber, Lyft or taxi there, but holy crap, it was expensive. It would cut into our funds that we had for Japan. Did we really want to spend that money for a time-constricted journey to see some historical sites?
Uh, hell yes.
We basically said screw it, called a $45 Uber and waited outside. As we waited, we were able to take in some of the things happening around the hotel. It was an interesting sight, to be honest- they were doing some kind of event. I can’t tell you what it was about, but all I know is that it was some kind of oriental event that took up the entire hotel. They were kind of rude though, so that sucked. Also, it was absolutely FREEZING. Like, I could feel it in my bones, even when we were next to the fire.
Soon enough, the Uber came and we rode for 45 minutes into downtown D.C.
And then our 16 mile walking D.C. adventure began…