Written by Caleb Chunn // Graphic by Cooper Turman
A group of three students were attempting to fly to their Harding University in Florence abroad program in Italy on Feb. 1 when the flight was suddenly turned around and then canceled, forcing the students to stay the night near a Little Rock airport in Arkansas.
Sophomores Jake Maynard, Tristan Carpenter and junior Jackson Edwards had taken off from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport when it was announced the plane was experiencing some technical errors in regards to the air conditioner.
“We were in the air for like 15 minutes and then they told us that we can’t get higher than 5,000 feet because of pressurization, so they turned us around, delayed our flight even more and after about two hours, they just canceled the flight completely,” Maynard said.
The group worked with on-site service members as well as Director of International Programs (IP) Audra Pleasant to find out what the next steps would be.
“Originally they were just delayed,” Pleasant said. “So they weren’t going to make their flight in Atlanta, so then I rebooked them on a different flight.”
Two faculty members were also flying out of Little Rock and had to make quick decisions in order to make it to Italy on time. Brenda and Steve Breezeel stayed the night near the airport the night before their 7:30 a.m. flight out of Little Rock.
“They actually spent the night by the airport because they were a little nervous, but also just didn’t want to wake up very early in the morning because it was a very early flight,” Pleasant said. “It was a 7:30 flight so they were going to have to leave at 4:30 in order to do that.”
Because of the abrupt change in plans and no luck in the way of an easy rebooking, the group of students stayed in a hotel near the airport and caught up on their sleep before heading out Feb. 2 for Atlanta and later, Rome.
Even the hotel was a headache for the students as the airport staff sent the three around the airport to wait in lines for a voucher to stay the night nearby.
“Right as we were about to get a hotel voucher, they stopped our shuttle,” Maynard said. “At this point, let’s just get an Uber, get our hotel, and then just leave in the morning.”
The three students, upon arrival at their hotel, decided a relaxed evening would be the best preparation for a long day of travel ahead.
“Me and Jackson just watched Scooby-Doo and then ate Buffalo Wild Wings and went to bed,” Maynard said.
Everyone has made it to their destination and are ready for a full three months abroad.
“We’re gonna be there for three months, missing one day isn’t the worst of it,” Edwards said.