Inside a Notre Dame law professor’s 24-hour travel day from hell – Insider

Inside a Notre Dame law professor’s 24-hour travel day from hell – Insider

  • A Notre Dame law professor found herself stuck in airports in Manila and Seoul on New Year’s Day.
  • Around 56,000 passengers were affected by the mass shutdown of flights in Manila on Sunday.
  • Diane Desierto told Insider how she had no option but to strand herself in Seoul amid the fallout.

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For one Notre Dame law professor, 2023 opened with a 24-hour travel nightmare.

It all started in the Philippines, where she’d flown to visit her family for the holidays.

Diane Desierto was set to return to the US on Sunday, having booked a trip from Manila to Washington D.C. Her first connecting flight was from Manila to Seoul.

On Sunday morning, she arrived at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and checked in, she told Insider.

But from there everything started to unravel, with a power outage forcing authorities to close the country’s airspace. 56,000 passengers were affected, across 280 flights.

“There was mass mayhem, because all the other flights were canceled or stranded. The free WiFi cuts off after three hours so nobody knew what was going on,” she said, adding that you couldn’t you make a call unless you had a local number.

As the delay dragged on, she looked for a Delta ticketing agent to help her rebook her connecting flight from Seoul to Washington D.C., but couldn’t find anyone. And with limited internet and call options, Desierto had no way of getting in touch with Delta’s customer service.

She considered leaving the airport to find a WiFi connection, but said the staff wouldn’t release her or her luggage.

“That was my point of contention with the ground staff,” Desierto said. “They were insistent that we were not allowed to leave the airport. I tried to leave and got stopped because I didn’t have the right immigration stamps or the authorization to leave the airport itself.”

Instead, airport and Korean Air staff told Desierto to board her flight to Seoul when operations resumed, even though she’d already missed her connecting flight to the US.

Staff told her she could find a Delta ticketing agent once she landed, she said.

Desierto snapped this photo as she waited at her gate in Manila Airport.

Diane Desierto

With no other option, Desierto got on the plane, almost eight hours late.

However, when Desierto and other Delta passengers arrived in Seoul the promised ticketing agent was nowhere to be found.

She tried approaching Korean Air staff to rebook her flight, but said they identified her as a Delta customer and told her to contact Delta instead.

It was 10 p.m. Seoul time, and with the airport’s eateries and shops closed, Desierto and her fellow passengers found themselves with no food, nowhere to sleep, and no way out of Seoul.

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