After nine years in Thailand, we were planning to move to Pennsylvania in early April. As reports of an unknown virus grew into a major worldwide concern, flights from many places around the globe were being canceled. When it happened to us, we decided to book new flights and leave as soon as possible. Instead of having a week — or even a few days — we now had mere hours to tie up our loose ends. We frantically packed, gave things away, and even sold our car that day!
We left the house around 6 p.m. that evening, and flew to Bangkok. We made our way to check in for our international flight, and suddenly everything changed. Someone said something I couldn’t hear, and, in a moment, everyone in the line walked away. I looked around to see stunned faces, and a few people were crying. One girl was passing by close enough for me to ask, “Is it ... canceled?” “Yes,” she replied, “Abu Dhabi closed their airport.” Just like that, we were stuck.
We found a place to sit down and frantically looked for other flights. Every time we thought we had something, it would end up being unavailable. We searched for hours with no success. We had to give up on leaving that night and find a way to rest. Our hotel room and taxi ride both felt overpriced, as if desperation carried its own tax. We felt like we were trapped in a movie. Nothing seemed to be going our way.
After getting everyone settled, I went back online to find possible flights. I ended up in the bathroom, hoping that everyone would sleep and that I would find something soon. I was on hold with Delta Airlines when I found a better option on United. Just as I was about to purchase it, a woman from Delta answered my call and said that she could indeed confirm the reservation if I gave her my credit card number. I looked at the time. It was after 5 a.m., and I had been awake for nearly 24 hours. I had been through every emotion — sadness about leaving Thailand, happiness from our smooth trip to Bangkok, anger from feeling cheated, fear of the unknown. I had broken down crying while updating my parents on our situation. And I was about to lose it again.
I decided to go ahead and tell the agent the whole story. I told her about the United flight I was looking at, our evaporating itineraries, and my lack of sleep. I told her that I was afraid to hang up with her and then end up with nothing. She said she would wait. She stayed on the line for about 10 minutes while I made our reservation with United. She listened and spoke with understanding, making sure we had what we needed before hanging up. I don’t know her name, and I’ll never meet her in this lifetime, but I’m so grateful for her kindness. I felt like she was an angel sent to help us. I thanked her again and again. I wish she could have received a commission for selling us tickets with another airline!
It was a long and exhausting trip, but we made it. From Bangkok to Tokyo to San Francisco to Lancaster, Pa., we felt the prayers of our friends and family carrying us across the world. We are so grateful!