I took the Premium Onibus (12 reais) from Centro Rio de Janeiro and headed to the airport at around 4pm. I arrived at GIG at 5pm due to massive traffic heading to the airport. When I arrived at the airport, it looked like half of the airport was under construction. There are no priority security lines at GIG airport. Security and customs took another hour due to long massive lines and I was in the Admirals Club at 6pm.
My Sunday flight from Rio de Janeiro to New York was scheduled to depart at 9pm and boarding started at 8pm. I chilled in the lounge for two hours and went to the gate at 8pm when boarding began. I was excited my Systemwide Upgrade cleared due to a no show and the gate agent handed me a new boarding pass.
I settled into my seat and enjoyed a glass of champagne as a pre-departure beverage.
When boarding was complete and the aircraft door was closed, all of a sudden the power went out. It took a few minutes for the captain to restore the power. I’ve seen this happen before and didn’t think anything of it until it happened a second time while we were taxiing. All of a sudden, the power went out and the backup lights turned on with the white lights leading to an emergency exit.
Maintenance came onboard to try and fix the problem which took about an hour and a half. It was already 10:30pm and now the captain said he was ready to leave the gate. By now, everyone around me was scared because what would happen if this happened again during the flight? I heard people around me saying that they didn’t want to be on this plane.
The captain began to taxi and a minute later, he announced that he felt the plane was unsafe to fly and that we were heading back to the gate. When the plane reached the gate, the power went out yet again. This time, there was a feint smell of smoke, like burnt electrical wiring.
The flight attendant announced that everyone was to leave the plane and take their belongings. It was 11pm and everyone headed towards the departure gate area. At this moment, people around me were devastated since the flight attendant said that there weren’t any available replacement planes at GIG airport.
The gate agent announced that maintenance was on board to fix the problem. Soon after, passengers began yelling at the two gate agents saying that they don’t want to fly in that plane. A few passengers began crying in tears pleading to the gate agent. At this point, no one knew what was going to happen and the gate agents were powerless. I feared that hell was going to break loose.
At 12am, they finally began handing out water and there was still no new news. Half an hour later, they took the catering off and began serving the pre arrival breakfast coach meal to the passengers.
At 1:30am, the gate agent announced that the flight has been cancelled and that they would be providing hotels, meals, and transportation. Soon after, a Brazilian passenger goes off on a gate agent in Portuguese.
This is what happens when a flight gets cancelled at a Brazilian airport. Chaos ensues and passengers start yelling at the helpless gate agents. This was my first time experiencing any type of flight cancellation. There is no way Rio de Janeiro/Galaeo International Airport is ready to handle the World Cup right now.
We boarded the bus at 2am and arrived at the hotel at 3am.
Check in was a mess and I barely got into my room at 4am.
I frantically got a WiFi signal to call American Airlines to rebook me on the same 9pm flight to New York. I slept for 4 hours and barely had time to work. The bus to the airport left at 3pm and arrived at 4pm.
As you would’ve guessed, the checks in lines were humongous.
This was a huge waste of time and my 24 hour nightmare in Rio de Janeiro finally came to an end. I’m writing this from New York and I just can’t wait to get onto my Los Angeles flight so I can finally be home.
Have you ever experienced a nightmare like this?