Travel nightmare: Routine flight home from Europe turns into stressful saga for SoCal family

Jory Rand Image
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
SoCal family experiences travel nightmare flying home from Europe
An airplane's blown tire at LAX was simply the capper to a maddening three-day saga of delayed and canceled flights for one SoCal family.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- What was supposed to be a routine trip home from Europe for one Southern California family turned into a maddening three-day saga of canceled and delayed flights, crashed computers and almost no sleep.

And when they thought it was all over and they finally reached Los Angeles they experienced the perfect capper to the travel nightmare: Their plane blew a tire as it landed at LAX and had to be towed to the gate.

"We just thought, what a classic ending to this crazy saga," said Meera Deo as she finally found herself safely on the ground in Los Angeles.

Her family of four was scheduled to leave Lisbon Sunday morning, and arrive at LAX Sunday evening.

Instead they left Portugal Monday morning and didn't get back to Los Angeles - after flying through New York and Atlanta first - until Tuesday afternoon.

Their troubles began when Iberia's computer system went down on Sunday. They couldn't get a boarding pass and when they finally did, the agent sent them to the wrong gate, so they missed their first flight.

Because the system was down, their only option was to buy new tickets for the next day. So that meant, back to a hotel and back to the airport at 6 a.m. the next morning.

They were able to fly from Lisbon to New York's JFK airport, and from there they were supposed to head straight to LAX.

But that flight from New York kept getting pushed back. First it was two hours waiting at JFK. Then six. Then it was 10 hours. Finally the flight was canceled some 12 hours after it was supposed to have left.

At one point, they actually boarded the plane and waited on the tarmac.

"We boarded the flight from JFK to LAX yesterday, and then deplaned. So that was very stressful and frustrating, because we thought we were finally gonna make that last leg and then we all got off the flight again."

Instead, at midnight they found themselves driving 40 minutes to a hotel, getting some two hours of sleep, and then heading back to JFK at 4 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta.

But even that final leg was delayed for three hours.

And of course the final surprise when they landed at LAX.

"The tire blowing out when it landed - I think we were willing to let it be humorous because we were home."

Deo says a supervisor at JFK told her these kinds of snafus have been happening often in the last six months.

"It's sort of a comedy of errors, all these things kept going wrong, but they're also going wrong for a reason. The airlines are not set up to handle the challenges that are happening this summer."

That's particularly bad news for Deo, a professor at Southwestern Law School. She barely has time to catch up on sleep before she finds herself back at LAX on Wednesday, scheduled to fly out for a national legal conference.