Travel nightmare: how a routine flight from Europe turned into an epic saga for the SoCal family

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — What should have been a routine trip home from Europe for a family from Southern California turned into a maddening three-day saga of canceled and delayed flights, computer crashes and almost no sleep.

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

“We just thought, what a classic ending to this crazy saga,” Meera Deo said when she was finally safely on the ground in Los Angeles.

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

Instead, they left Portugal on Monday morning and didn’t return to Los Angeles until Tuesday afternoon — having flown first through New York and Atlanta.

Their problems started 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, causing them to miss their first flight.

Since the system was not working, their only option was to buy new tickets for the next day. So that meant, back to a hotel and the next morning at 6am back to the airport.

They could fly from Lisbon to New York’s JFK airport and from there they would go straight to LAX.

But that flight from New York kept getting pushed back. First it was a two hour wait for JFK. Then six. Then it was 10 o’clock. In the end, the flight was canceled about 12 hours after it was supposed to depart.

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

“We boarded the flight from JFK to LAX yesterday and then got off. So that was very stressful and frustrating because we thought we would finally get to that last leg and then we all got off the flight again.”

Instead, they had to drive 40 minutes to a hotel at midnight, sleep for about two hours, and return to JFK at 4 AM to catch a 6-hour flight to Atlanta.

But even that last leg was delayed by three hours.

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

“The band popped 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 that this kind of snafus has been common in the past six months.

“It’s kind of a comedy of errors. All these things went wrong all the time, but they also go wrong for a reason. The airlines are not set up to handle the challenges that will arise this summer.”

That’s particularly bad news for Deo, a professor at Southwestern Law School. She barely has time to sleep before returning to LAX on Wednesday, scheduled to fly for a national legal conference.

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