When I first started typing this, I was sitting on a flight from Brisbane to Tokyo that I thought I would miss.
And, as I am posting this, I am back in Japan, albeit with a 3-hour delay.
Everything started off normally when I left my hotel in Christchurch around 4AM and headed to the airport to catch my Qantas flight to Brisbane from where, as mentioned above, I was continuing back to Tokyo after my visit to SOFIA.
The otherwise not-so-exciting trans-Tasman flight turned a bit more interesting when I saw the Qantas retro jet at my departure gate.
While I thought that would be it, the “unusualness” continued soon after our on-time take-off when the crew asked if there was a medical doctor onboard. They didn’t seem to have found one, but luckily, the situation got stabilized and so we were able to continue our journey.
Not long after, breakfast was served and after I finished my fruit plate, I fell asleep.
When I woke up, we were still in the air. When I looked at the in-flight map, it seemed like it was already after our scheduled arrival time and we were in a holding pattern near Brisbane.
And, sure enough, after another confused passenger in the row in front of me asked why we were not landing, it turned out Brisbane airport was having issues with fog and low visibility.
Not long after, an announcement was made that we would be attempting a landing in Brisbane. The plan was to divert to Gold Coast to refuel if we failed to execute the landing.
At the same time, the crew also briefly explained that if we were unable to land, the engines would become louder and we would start climbing again – assuring the passengers that go-around is a standard and safe procedure.
Full of expectation, we continued our descent.
Unfortunately, though, while we were still above the very low clouds, the engines spooled and we started climbing again.
Once the go-around procedure was finished, the crew made another announcement apologizing for the issues and mentioning that we were headed to Gold Coast where we would land in about ten minutes.
We landed in Gold Coast at 9:22AM, more than an hour after our original scheduled arrival time in Brisbane, and after about an hour and a half on the ground, we were refueled and Brisbane airport was open and so we took-off once again.
By this time, it was already after my connecting flight’s scheduled departure time, but because Brisbane airport was completely paralyzed, the flight to Tokyo was delayed for a couple of hours as well.
While the short hop from Gold Coast to Brisbane was supposed to only take 15 minutes, due to air traffic restrictions, it ended up taking close to an hour.
Nonetheless, we got to our arrival gate in Brisbane around 11:40AM – with plenty of time to spare to catch my connection to Tokyo which was now delayed from the original departure time of 9:35AM to 12:20PM.
To add a bit of final drama, just as everyone was ready to get off, the crew made one last announcement:
Ladies and gentlemen, someone will come to talk to the person that was not doing well on the flight. No one will be able to get off until they are finished.
Indeed, the “someone” was “quarantine officers.”
Luckily, the sick passenger got a green light from the quarantine and we could all start disembarking. At this point, it was about three minutes to twelve, and the departure of my flight was showing as 12:20PM.
I got out of the plane and followed the “international transfers” sign.
As if the flight itself wasn’t eventful enough, when I got to the transfer security checkpoint it was closed and there was a sign instructing us to use transfer security on the opposite end of the terminal.
With that new piece of information, I ran back past the aircraft I got off and through the other security checkpoint.
When I got to the departure gate, it was 12:10PM. By that time, though, the flight to Tokyo was further delayed to 12:45PM.
I had made it!