I and Nazia landed at Chicago O’Hare at 6:20pm (local time). Our next connecting flight was scheduled for 09:05 for Moline where Jennifer was going to pick us up and drive us to the college. The Chicago O Hare experience started in a reasonably bad manner for us as right after clearing the immigration, we learned that our luggage hadn’t arrived with Lufthansa Airline (we traveled with Lufthansa Airline after Munich). After filing a missing luggage complaint with Lufthansa’s help desk and going through the necessary procedures at the domestic immigration and the customs, we found ourselves the gate number where we were to get our flight (United Airlines) to Moline.
There were not many people in the waiting area for the flight to Moline. About 20 minutes before the flight departure time, the lady at the reception announced that the due to some technical problems, the flight to Moline had been delayed for 30 minutes. We waited for 30 minutes until it was announced that the flight was going to be late for another 1 hour because the technical problem hadn’t been fixed. Upon learning about another delay, we decided to take a walk to explore the airport. Chicago O Hare is huge. There are countless terminals, gates, shops, people etc. And as far as my experience is concerned, if you are new and you get lost at the airport, it will be really hard for you to make it to your flight departure gate on time. I experienced it myself!
We both were feeling hungry and tired and our flight to Moline kept getting delayed, so we just started roaming around and eventually got lost and ended up at a different terminal. By the time we made it to our desired terminal and gate, the flight had already departed. We were left with no option but to spend the night at the airport as the next available flight was at 08:15am next morning.
It was almost midnight and there were not many people around anymore. The airport started looking deserted. I asked Nazia to stay in the lobby and I’d go downstairs to get something to eat as all the food shops at the airport had closed by that time. I went downstairs to the arrival lounge, but there was nothing but the coffee available so I decided to go out of the airport in search of food. When I stepped out, I realized it was pretty cold outside and to my shock, there wasn’t anything but taxis available. I took a walk back and forth around the taxi area, but there was nothing I could find to eat. So I finally decided to go back up wait until the morning when the food shops in the lobby area open up.
I stepped back into the airport and was heading to the immigration area so I could get into the lobby but to my surprise, there were no security officials or immigration staff available at the immigration entrances to check me in. I got rattled and started searching for someone who could help me with that. A lady, who was probably with the airport security asked me if she could help. I explained the situation to her and she gave me the biggest shock of my life.
I was told that the immigration counters had been closed at 12:00 midnight and will open again at 4:00, so I would have to wait outside until that time. I asked the lady if she could help me get back up because my friend there must be very worried, but she said this was out of her control and she couldn't do anything about it even if she wanted to!
Now, all I could do was sit in the waiting area (which was very cold, and I was only wearing a t-shirt) and wait till 4:00am. Sitting there alone with no people around was very boring and frustrating. I was also worried that Nazia was alone up in the lobby and she must be thinking a lot of bad things as our phone batteries were out and there was no way we could inform each other about the situation. Also, I was hungry and tired. I tried sleeping on the couches in the indoor sitting area but it was even worse and felt even colder…