Have you ever been on an airplane, two hours into a nine hour flight, watching a movie, enjoying a drink, and being told by the captain through the intercom that there is a maintenance issue with the plane. That is exactly what happened on our flight from Sapporo, Japan to Honolulu, Hawaii. We were told that we were thirty minutes from landing in Narita, Japan. The captain expected no difficulty with the landing and cautioned us that there would be emergency vehicles following us on the runway. Little did we know at that time that we would be sleeping in an airport overnight. Truly one of the most unique experiences of our travels so far.
Sleeping in an Airport
Experience: Sleeping in an Airport
Where: Narita International Airport
How: This was a difficult thing to have happen and not planned whatsoever. Continue reading to understand what happened.
Duration: We slept in the airport overnight.
Summary: The most unique experience while traveling is having our plane turned around mid-flight due to a leak and having to sleep the night in the airport.
After landing, we waited for thirty minutes for them to reopen the airport for us as it was 1 AM and the airport was closed. Customs had to be reopened, they needed staff to unload our luggage, and staff to help us through the airport. It was a very interesting experience, one that had never occurred at this airport before.
Being that it was peak season in Japan, and that we were stand-by passengers, the airline was not able to secure enough rooms for all of the passengers. After calling relentlessly to several hotels in the area and resorting to spending the money to call Hotels.com to have them call around for us to find a hotel, we were unable to find any rooms available for the night. It became apparent around 3 AM that we would be sleeping in the airport.
By 2 AM we had our luggage in hand and were trying to find where we would potentially be staying the night. We found a place in front of a help desk (which was obviously closed at this time) where there were some outlets for us to recharge our phones and cameras. At this time, we were calling hotels while the airport staff was handing out sleeping bags and inflatable mats for us to sleep on. The staff worked extremely hard to make sure more than 70 people were comfortable enough during the night.
Police officers were on duty and there was a convenience store open in the floor below of the airport. By 4 AM we were ready to fall asleep in front of the help desk. Just three and a half hours later we woke up to customers coming for their early morning flights asking questions to the help desk. In retrospect it was not the best place to sleep for the night, but it did have lots of outlets for us. We packed our sleeping bags back up, left our mats, and looked for breakfast.
Our time sleeping in an airport was unique to any situation I have ever been in when traveling. The flight was rescheduled for 4 PM. Though it took a day away from our trip to Hawaii, it provided us with an opportunity to take a free tour of Narita, meet two amazing people, eat eel, see a temple, try on a Kimono, see a tea ceremony, and all around have an enjoyable trip in Narita for four hours.
I guess we can’t say this situation was all that bad.
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