Upon arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 1 this morning at 4am, I checked in and prepared to wait the remaining time before boarding my Delta flight after three weeks in the Philippines. Comforted by the sight of the 747-400 aircraft sitting at the gate, I was ready to get home. The first clue that something was wrong came from the stampede of persons up to the airline counter in the waiting area. One of the staff said that the flight was canceled. Disbelieving I waited my turn to get to the counter, and moving at a snail’s pace, finally got to talk to an airline representative. To reinforce what they told me about the flight cancellation until tomorrow due to maintenance problems, the plane was pushed back from the gate. We are being well taken care of by Delta airlines in a 5-star hotel. Breakfast consisted of every kind of Western and Asian food you could possibly eat. However, I would much rather be eating airline food over the Pacific knowing I am headed home, than the grand buffets at this glamorous hotel overlooking Manila Bay.
In twenty-four hours until we leave, or so they say. Seems like a long to time to wait but it is not the longest time I have had to wait for an airplane. Once in Somalia, in the late 1980s, I waited 2½ days for a plane. That time it was out on the desert in a windswept coastal town called Berbera. Having missed the Hargeisa>Mogadishu flight, I took the bus to Berbera 4 hours away to wait for the incoming flight enroute from Jedda to Mogadishu on Somali Airlines. But the president absconded the plane for some state business or shopping trip to Europe and so we sat, waiting under a shade tree for the tardy plane. The airport had no terminal, just a shell of a block building from the Russian era that had its windows and doors ripped out, had a dirt floor and stunk of goat pee. The airline put us up in something they called a hotel but there was no running water, was at least 100 degrees F inside and a legion of mosquitoes had a feast on me during the night. With no internet, or TV or even anything to do in Berbera, which was under curfew, we just sat, waiting.
So, lest I am tempted to scowl at this turn of events, I must remember that it can always be worse.