American living in Gent, Belgium who gets to travel the world for work. Food lover, daily adventurer, complete wanderluster.

Delta Meltdown 2016

Delta Meltdown 2016

The Tour of Utah ended on Sunday and the following day, I was scheduled to fly from Salt Lake City to Prague, Czech Republic for a press conference. Going straight from one race, into another race, followed directly by a press conference is always challenging. Throwing in two transatlantic flights makes it nearly insane.....and really increases chances of travel issues.

I don't think I've ever been to a smaller airport than the Provo, Utah airport. It was an experience but thanks to Allegiant Air, I was able to make it to California.

I don't think I've ever been to a smaller airport than the Provo, Utah airport. It was an experience but thanks to Allegiant Air, I was able to make it to California.

The first thing I do any morning is look at my phone. That Monday morning, I woke up to so many missed calls from unknown numbers, text messages and emails that I assumed something terrible had happened. Instead, I just saw that Delta was having some issues. At that point, I had no idea what those issues really meant.

When I woke up last Monday morning, absolutely zero part of me expected to see the San Francisco Bay Bridge, even a brief glimpse.

When I woke up last Monday morning, absolutely zero part of me expected to see the San Francisco Bay Bridge, even a brief glimpse.

I had until 11am to get my next steps figured out because I was supposed to take a shuttle from Park City down to Salt Lake City. I tried calling into Delta and was told the hold was between 3.5-4 hours and that they would call me back. Then I got a message saying that my flight was cancelled. I figured there was no point in heading to the airport, so I went out for a run/walk on the trails around Park City.

It was such a strange day with no flow or rhythm. I aimed to just keep moving. This meant basically no meals and lots of bars. Also, I was officially working and really needing to catch up on emails and tasks after the back-to-back craziness of Denmark and Utah.

It was such a strange day with no flow or rhythm. I aimed to just keep moving. This meant basically no meals and lots of bars. Also, I was officially working and really needing to catch up on emails and tasks after the back-to-back craziness of Denmark and Utah.

Eventually, I got a call back from Delta and they said I couldn't get rebooked to fly out until Wednesday, which meant my trip to Czech Republic was obsolete. I needed to be there for a press conference by Wednesday morning. Instead of sitting in Park City, where life is fairly pricey and I didn't know anyone. I looked into all the options that could get me from Utah to California that day. I knew I had a free place to stay in Northern CA and it didn't seem too sure that Delta was actually getting me out of the US anytime soon.

It took a few buses to get from Oakland up to Santa Rosa, including a stop through San Rafael.

It took a few buses to get from Oakland up to Santa Rosa, including a stop through San Rafael.

I looked into renting a car to drive to CA. Nothing available. I looked into flying from Salt Lake City to any Northern CA airport. Either nothing available or insanely expensive. Eventually, I found a ticket from the Provo Airport to Oakland through Allegiant Air. I knew I could get up to Santa Rosa from Oakland on the Airporter, so I booked a ticket for a price cheaper than a hotel in Park City. The next question was getting from Park City to Provo. Thanks to Uber, I got a lovely ride to Provo through some stunning parts of Utah. I reached Oakland and then started working my way north to Santa Rosa. 

My first meal of the day was one of my favorite plates of food on Earth: Pollo al Horno with half rice and beans and half sweet and fried green plantains from El Colqui. I crave this when in Europe.

My first meal of the day was one of my favorite plates of food on Earth: Pollo al Horno with half rice and beans and half sweet and fried green plantains from El Colqui. I crave this when in Europe.

Tuesday, Delta still wasn't operating correctly. Wednesday, my first flight was delayed for over five hours, so I would have missed my connection. Fortunately, I already assumed there might be issues so I had called Delta (only a 90-minute wait this time) and asked when they predicted I could fly out. She said that if it didn't really matter (I had a free place to stay, friends to enjoy and access to a car), that I should wait until the weekend. So she booked me SFO-->SLC-->AMS-->BRU on Saturday. 

While killing time in California, I decided my life needed a telescopic (collapsible) fishing rod that I could travel with. Then I spent most afternoons catching fish from lakes around Sonoma County. Heaven.

While killing time in California, I decided my life needed a telescopic (collapsible) fishing rod that I could travel with. Then I spent most afternoons catching fish from lakes around Sonoma County. Heaven.

I got to the airport bright and early on Saturday morning and my first flight to SLC was super smooth. Things started going wrong again in SLC. We boarded our transatlantic flight and just sat there for awhile. Eventually, they announced there was a mechanical and we were all deplaned. I called Delta (only 5-minute wait) and was told that there was basically no other option this late in the day to get me to Europe. I waited for a few hours and called back (15 minute wait). This time, I was told that I would have to wait between 6-7 hours in Amsterdam to get a connecting flight to BRU once I made it to Europe.

Last US meal for a few weeks. I had no idea I was about to start another hellish travel day.

Last US meal for a few weeks. I had no idea I was about to start another hellish travel day.

At this point, I was desperate just to get home. My already long trip had been extended nearly five extra days. I was running low on meds and patience, so I asked to terminate my flight in Amsterdam. I figured I could just grab a train back to Gent much faster. After a little battling with Delta, they finally agreed to this. I arrived in AMS only to find out my bags hadn't been retagged. It took quite a fight to get them but eventually I was free from the Delta system for a few weeks.

Switching off the Thalys in Antwerp for the train to Gent. Total relief to be back in the Dutch speaking parts of the world.

Switching off the Thalys in Antwerp for the train to Gent. Total relief to be back in the Dutch speaking parts of the world.

Now I'm home for about three weeks. This is one of the longest stretches I have had at home in months. I'm looking forward to eating my own food, actually having some hobbies, sleeping and enjoying my great city of Gent.

My next real travel (outside of one-day bike races in Belgium) is back to the States for a wedding at the beginning of September.

 

Day in the Life: GP Stad Zottegem

Day in the Life: GP Stad Zottegem

Spending Time in the US

Spending Time in the US