Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Joys of a Pilgrimage....

What a fun day it has been! We found out shortly after waking up this morning that our flight had been delayed until around 4PM. The bus picked us up an hour late and took us to the airport so that we would have extra time checking in. It was a beautiful morning here in Sydney weather wise but the delays did not come as much of a surprise to us after seeing the size of the crowds this week.

At the airport we were in for a bit of a surprise. The check-in process went extremely well...almost too smooth. In fact, three of us who had previously registered for Qantas frequent flyer miles (Father, me, and K Day) were given a free upgrade to business class. Those of you who travel internationally know what a gift from God that truly is. Qantas gaves us all $15 meal vouchers for our original delay. One of our teens was given an entire sheet of them (about 15). Qantas is certainly a model for customer service.

We boarded our plane at about 3:30 PM. Three of us were like little kids in a candy store playing with all of the buttons on our seats and realizing how far they could go back. I wish I could have seen the look on my face when I stepped on the plane and the flight attendant said, "yeah...right mate. Just down the first aisle to your right and up the stairs." Up the what? I knew there was an upstairs but certainly did not think that they put the likes of me up there. It must be because I shaved off my beard and no longer look homeless. I was pleased to find that I had a front row (bulkhead) seat just outside the flight deck.

A priest sat down in the seat next to me (I later learned that they tried to upgrade all of the priests first) and I learned that he was the vocations director from Cheyenne, Wyoming. We had a good conversation and he knows some of the priests in our Diocese including Fr. David Konderla and Fr. Brian McMaster. We were well into our conversation when I realized that we had been talking entirely too long without moving. When I saw the maintenance man walk into the flight deck, I knew it wasn't good.

The captain came over the intercom and told us that there was a problem with a fuel gauge that caused them to overfill one of the tanks and spill fuel on the tarmac. He told us not to be alarmed by the fire truck that would appear on our right side. They fixed the gauge after about 45 minutes but then had to manually check the fuel levels in the tanks to make sure we had enough fuel to get home.

Once they determined we had enough fuel, they realized that we had another "minor" problem. There was a panel on the right wing that was loose and some of the nuts and bolts were missing. Glad they discovered that in a timely manner! We were told that the repair would take two hours and were asked to de-plane. We are now scheduled for a 9PM departure which puts us into LAX after 7PM. That means we will miss the last flight to Houston on Continental. We are anticipating an overnight stay in LA. We will call parents when we get there to give an update.

We are aware of Tropical Storm (Hurricane?) Dolly possibly landing on Wednesday or Thursday so we are eager to get in ahead of that. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. The good news is that the kids are in great spirits and are taking this in stride...for now. In the meantime, K Day and I are like little kids in the business class lounge with all of the amazing accomodations including the lavatory facilities.

We hope to see you all soon, but I must admit, this is a tad bit fun and we are all good humored about it.

Peace,
Tom

2 comments:

Rebecca Jares said...

I am so happy to hear of your upgrade! I know Father Michael had mentioned the hopes of being upgraded for the long flight! I was supposed to work your flight from LAX to IAH. Last minute circumstances lead to a change. I would have missed all of you anyway due to your delaly! Maybe stay in LA for a couple of days and just extend your journey a little longer? Just kidding! I am sure all of you miss your families and friends! We continue to pray for your safe arrival!

Anita Kapchinski said...

Rebecca - thanks for the extra care you have shown our group and for taking time to "blog" along with us all!

Tom - Some of the phrases that have been creeping into your notes have become increasingly concerning to me. In fact, in one of the most recent blogs you actually used the word (not making this up!) "stellar".

Glad to hear you are finally on your way from Sydney - we'll keep praying for your speedy and safe return. We're waiting with open arms!