My worst nightmare is missing a flight – especially an international one. But I will never let that happen to me, because I check and double check everything. Yes, there were a few times where I had to run to my gate because of the long lines to get through customs or traffic getting to the airport, but it was not within my control. But…it almost happened to me this past summer. And it was a mistake on my part. A VERY careless one. One that I can’t easily forgive myself for. Shame on me…
It was the end of my two-month Summer trip. My last stop was Seoul. Maybe it was because I have always landed and departed from Incheon International Airport the last three times I visited , or maybe because I love that airport so much, I totally ignored what my e-ticket said – Gimpo International Airport!
I didn’t even realize my mistake until I arrived at the airport and I couldn’t find my flight number on the notice board. “How strange!”, I thought to myself. And then suddenly everything around me froze. I knew exactly what happened. I took a few seconds to first curse at myself! “Oh no, I didn’t! How can I let this happen? Didn’t I check the ticket!?”
I had a mixture of two feelings actually. I was, of course, nervous that I might miss my flight back home. But deep inside, I was also excited for this little challenge thrown at me with no notice. Call me weird, but I like to make these situations work out. As much as I want to catch that flight, I also really didn’t mind spending an extra day in Seoul.
The start of the race begins. I quickly googled how long it will take to get to the other airport by taxi – about half an hour – but that is still a bit risky. I rushed over to the China Airlines help desk, told them my situation and asked if I can get my flight out of Incheon instead. The lady was very helpful and tried hard to look. She found one but it was at a later time, and that will mean missing my connecting flight in Beijing. She called Gimpo International Airport. After she hung up she told me to immediately grab a taxi to Gimpo and that they will give me 30 minutes to get there! What!? It will take me 5 minutes to just walk to the taxi stand, and then I still need time to look for the check-in counter! Anyway, I have no choice but to try.
At that moment, I was so grateful for being a light traveler. My backpack didn’t become my burden. I was able to zigzag past the crowd, and run up and down escalators.
I took the first taxi I saw and pray the driver is good and honest! My fate’s in this man’s hands. It was a smiley, chubby ajusshi (uncle in Korean) in his 60’s, with a big set of curly hair and wearing round, black eyeglasses to match his pink, round cheeks. He looks just like those ajusshi you see in Korean dramas.
“Please take me to Gimpo! Fast fast fast, ajusshi!” I was so glad to put my 10 words of Korean into good use. I told him I need to get there in 20 minutes! He laughed out loud and then said something that I think means, “Other taxis might not be able to do it, but you are lucky you got me.”
This ajusshi is very chatty. He wants to know my nationality, if I have a boyfriend, a husband, siblings, my occupation etc. I would love to talk to him but I wanted him to concentrated on the road, so after I answered a question, I reminded him to hurry, “Ajuushii, bari bari!” And each time I said that, he said laughing, “Ok, Ok I know your husband is waiting for you at home.” Then he pointed to the speed limit signs on the side of the road and then to his speedometer to show me that he was already going way over the limit for me. And he was going really fast.
At the end, this lovely man got me there in 17 minutes! I was impressed. I thank him over and over, and he said something that probably means, “See, I got you here in 17 mins! You didn’t need to worry.”
Phew! I am sure this experience will always come up whenever I think of Korea…
Have you ever missed a flight or closed to missing one?