The Twelve Hour Flight to Xi’an Part I

Normally the train to Xi’an takes 12 hours and a flight takes 2 hours. But not in our case.

We woke up at 7:30 am, breakfasted at the Asset Hotel, and checked out by 8:45. The doorman walked us to the cab with an umbrella. Excellent service.

On the cab ride to the airport, it was raining and overcast. On the highway, we noticed the high winds. Uh-oh.

We arrived at China Eastern in terminal one of the Pudong airport at 9:30 for a 12 pm flight. Signage posted at the checkin says all flights are cancelled due to typhoon. We check the big board of flights and it’s cancelled. Ugh. We ask the attendants near the sign and they tell us to go to terminal 2.

We opt to go to the ticket desk and wait in line. No one lines up behind us, knowing foreigners are a handful. She tells us we can go on a flight tomorrow. We ask if there are any others today. She said Shanghai Airlines has a flight at 2pm that might still take off. If weather permits.

But we have to find and take the shuttle bus to terminal 2 to see if we can get on the Shanghai airlines flight. Lol.

We go there and get in line again. She says it may still take off or may be cancelled. We take our chances and get booked on it. Then we go sit by the big board and wait. From 10:15 onward.

We sit near railing with luggage surrounding OL. I tell him he’s in the bedroom and I’m in the living room. We find this hysterical.

Every hour or so one of us goes to ask about the flight. The big board isn’t updated.

There is no info on it being cancelled or delayed. At about 1, there is still no update on flight.

I get xiao long tang bao at the dumpling place and tea. The xiaojie gets nervous talking to me and keep putting her hand in front of her mouth which makes it impossible to hear her. The dumplings btw turn out to be a mistake because I will burp dumplings for the next 6 hours. At the airport.

While I eat, OL checks the board and asks airline checkin people about our flight. They try to speak english with OL. The guy rambles and key point OL gets is if lucky after 1hour wait.

The ramble also included random nouns and yeses. So that it sounds like this “red suitcase plastic bag if lucky check back horseshoe flight to Xian water bottle airline if lucky after 1 hour, yes. Yes, Sunglasses, yes?”

He reports this to me. I burst out laughing.  Really appreciate that the flight attendants tried in English but the info was so hard to understand.

Unfortunately the board never updated. The checkin lines never posted the flight name, code, or anything to indicate it was checking in. Everything was word of mouth. And we didn’t have the Chinese to navigate a flight delay.

Over at another checkin counter, a massive crowd forms around an older man screaming and flailing his arms about at the checkin girl. That airline cancelled all flights for the day. He seems to be venting for the 75 people near him. Airport cops congregate around watching. Waiting to see what he does.

I can’t believe how long he keep berating the check in woman. It’s not her fault. And the violent swings of his arms. I think the cops are waiting for him to hit her. It continues for over an hour. Not sure how it ended actually.

OL and I alternated asking. At 1:30pm we relocated closer to the checkin counter and sat near a sign. For a while. At 2:45, I asked if flight checkin yet. They said no so OL heads to dumpling place to eat something. At 3:20 a guy runs up to his family next to us and rushes them out of there. Another flight is boarding.

While OL eats, I go check. Find out it’s our flight. I grab OL, pee quick(thank god for western toilets at Pudong Airport) and rush to check in with our luggage.

OL has his confirmation for flight. But when the checkin guy goes to check us in he says there’s a problem. Our confirmation code indicates we were not booked on this Shanghai airlines flight. No we were booked on another China Eastern flight which already took off.

OL and I look at each other like omfg no. Then we explain in English that we were booked on the 12pm flight. When it was cancelled China Eastern sent us over to Shanghai Airlines for their 2pm flight. This is the flight we are trying to get on that has been delayed for a while.

Guy becomes quiet. Gets on phone. Punches keys on computer finally looks up and says it’s okay. Prints our tickets and we see the boarding time is 3:30. We go through gate security and both get wanded. Like second base level wanding. Head to gate and see clock says 3:45. Rushing on people mover to get to gate.

But when we get there. No plane. No boarding. Attendant tells us flight is delayed and plane should arrive at 5pm. I announce, I need retail therapy. You sit here with the stuff. I go back to find snacks (pretzels, shortbread), water, and Haagen Dazs. 45 yuan for a scoop of green tea ice cream. 6.25$. Insane. But I need it.

5pm passes with no plane in sight. People start gathering at the gate as if they can summon the plane down by sheer willpower. Japanese girls with matching dresses annoy the shit out of me. Kids are perky after hours of flight delay. Grandpa naps in grandma’s stockings on seats across from us.

This entry was posted in Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Twelve Hour Flight to Xi’an Part I

  1. Lucas says:

    Loved the part living room and dining room. Burst out laughing at my desk (in a quiet office)

    • I have a pic of OL in his bedroom but I’m not allowed to share it 🙁 Absurdity was the only way to survive our day at the airport. 🙂 Sorry for causing a disturbance in your quiet office. 😉

  2. berry says:


Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?