Two weeks ago, the Saratoga High music department concluded their amazing summer tour in which we traveled to four of the most beautiful countries in all of Europe and had experiences that we would cherish for a lifetime. However, this article is not about the tour, but rather, about the unique adventure that we embarked on after the tour concluded. On our last day in Prague, we had mixed feelings about arriving in the airport. Many of us didn’t want such a wonderful trip to end while others were feeling homesick and wanted to see their families again. Within a few hours of checking in our luggage and going through security, we boarded the plane and headed from Prague to JFK International Airport through Delta Airlines. When we arrived at JFK, we received news that the band and orchestra students and parents were still stuck in Prague as Singapore Airlines had canceled their flight back home. Meanwhile, all of the choir students were disappointed to find that their flight from JFK to SFO had been canceled, meaning that we would have to stay in New York for the night.
The next morning, we woke up and spent the majority of the day in the airport, not knowing whether we would board a flight or not. Hours passed and our tour manager was able to give us more information about who would be flying back or not. 6 people, including myself, were not on the list and had to stay back another night. Furthermore, we didn’t even have access to our suitcases as we had to check them back in once we arrived in New York, meaning that the luggage had gotten to San Francisco before we did! Meanwhile, our friends in the band program and orchestra were also stuck in Prague but shared pictures and videos of a dinner cruise that they were able to enjoy, the most we had was a coffee and bagel at the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts.
Overnight, we learned that some of the students and teachers scheduled to board the flight the previous day were put on standby and would be flying out 9 hours after us. We woke up around 4 am the next morning and got ready to leave the hotel at 5. We successfully got through check-in and security and boarded the plane. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we arrived in San Francisco and collected our baggage from the baggage office, where they had safely stored the suitcases in anticipation of our arrival. I was overjoyed to finally see my mom outside the gate after two weeks of being away from home and finally coming back. The band and orchestra students had arranged for a charter flight leaving from Frankfurt, Germany with gifts provided by the airline as well. In all, even though the last leg of the trip wasn’t as organized and well planned as the majority of the trip, it is not the tour managers to be blamed, but rather the airlines for not taking into account that students are essentially living in the airport(in our case) without fresh clothes and luggage and that they need to be more understanding of the situation. I hope this article gave you a better understanding of not only the situation in Prague but also of the students stuck in JFK.