Your holiday disaster: Fiona Bacon arrived in Santiago four days late, thin, miserable and starving

"WOULD PASSENGER Fiona Bacon, travelling to Santiago, please make herself known at the flight desk?" Deceptively good news awaited me; the airline had overbooked my flight - would I be prepared to switch to another slightly later, in return for an upgrade? I called my boyfriend in Chile and accepted the offer, looking forward to a better class of bench in the business class lounge. Stuffed full of dry roasted peanuts and Bloody Marys, I arrived at my newly designated gate. I was alarmed to find that the flight would be stopping twice en route - at Aruba and Guayaquil - but the wide seats and lavish toilet bags in business class quelled my fears.

At breezy, palm-strewn Aruba, the plane landed for re-fuelling, and we trooped off to the spacious Portakabin of a terminal. After several hours' wait, everyone was becoming irate. A formidable stewardess was despatched to pacify us with refreshment vouchers, and 300 people stampeded for one hastily opened hot-dog stand. After that came the announcement that we would be detained in Aruba for a further 24 hours because a new part for the 747 aircraft had to be flown in from Europe. Without luggage, we were all driven through the pearly dawn to cheap hotels, with no air- conditioning, some distance from the beach.

The sheen had fully worn off business class as I took my place again, wearing the same clothes I had set out in. Next stop, Ecuador's Guayaquil airport terminal, resting in what looked like a shallow bomb crater, was staffed by gun-toting militia, and had the welcoming appeal of an abattoir. Eight of us had been upgraded, and we'd been assured that airline reps would greet us on the ground. After some hours wandering around in sweltering 80 per cent humidity, completely abandoned, we were forced to jump over barriers and hammer on the airline's office doors.

Sensing impending violence, they sent out a visibly pregnant rep to deal with us. She gave us all $250 worth of miscellaneous cash orders (MCOs) - valid only for further flights, not much-needed beers - and told us that, since there was no connecting flight to Santiago that day, we would be spending a night in Guayaquil at the Hotel Colon. Another night, another toilet bag, but still no sight of our luggage. We were told too that we'd have to give back our MCOs. I went to my room and wept buckets.

Meanwhile, in Santiago, my boyfriend was going mad with worry - no one from the airline had been able to tell him where I was. With just five minutes' free phone time, I couldn't get through. Next day the airline reps left us at the mercy of customs staff. "Why are you spending only one day in Guayaquil? What's inside all these toilet bags?" I was singled out for special treatment, my luggage decanted on to the runway and every embarrassing item pored over in detail. Finally, I arrived in Santiago four days late, thin, exhausted, and feeling like a refugee, albeit one with an unparalleled collection of travel toothbrushes.

Share your holiday nightmares by sending a 600-word account to: Holiday Disasters, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. E-mail: sundaytravel@independent.co.uk

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor