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United flight that advertised New Year’s festivities in 2 time zones delayed

by Staff

United Airlines advertised a special perk for its daily flight out of Guam — a chance to travel back in time from 2024 to 2023.

“You only live once, but you can celebrate New Year’s Eve twice!” the airline wrote Dec. 28 on social media.

Alas, time travel is not immune to holiday flight delays.

United Airlines Flight 200 took off over six hours late on New Year’s Day from A.B. Won Pat International Airport. It had been scheduled to take off that morning, cross the international date line during a 7-hour-and-15 minute flight over the Pacific Ocean and then land in Honolulu in the early evening of New Year’s Eve, giving its passengers more than five hours to prepare to welcome 2024 a second time. With the delay, the Boeing 777 touched down at about 12:27 a.m. — a little less than a half-hour after Honolulu rang in the new year.

“I’m somewhere between really ticked off and devastated,” passenger John Gasquet, 53, told The Washington Post.

For years, Gasquet had wanted to take off on New Year’s Day one year and land on New Year’s Eve the year before, allowing him to celebrate twice. He spent more than a year making the preparations for a trip starting from his home in Cotati, Calif., that he had hoped would allow him to travel back in time.

He found a few flights that would allow him to accomplish that feat. One flew out of Tokyo and another out of Hong Kong, but both were scheduled to land right before midnight, leaving Gasquet to mark the new year while the plane was taxiing or deboarding. He wanted a chance to celebrate properly.

Then, he found United Flight 200 and decided to build a holiday trip around his time-traveling aspirations. On Dec. 22, he and his girlfriend, Monique Dixon, 57, flew from San Francisco to his native Louisiana to celebrate Christmas with his family in the New Orleans area. On the 26th, they flew to Guam, a place Gasquet had never visited, so they could catch Flight 200. Once Gasquet and Dixon completed their New Year’s revelry, they planned to spend a week in Hawaii before heading home to California.

But the crown jewel of the trip was the double New Year’s celebration. The first sign of trouble came around 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 31, about 21½ hours before they were scheduled to take off. It was an update from United: The flight was now delayed 6 hours and 25 minutes with a new scheduled arrival time of 1:10 a.m. — an hour and 10 minutes after the new year.

Gasquet contacted United and said an employee told him it had something to do with weather. But Gasquet said that when he checked other flights departing Guam, they were on schedule.

United Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.

If one New Year’s Eve isn’t enough, fly through multiple time zones

Resigned to leaving late, Gasquet and Dixon slept in, ate breakfast and arrived at the airport in the late morning. They got through security, boarded and took off a few minutes after 2 p.m.

Buoyed by a tailwind, the pilots made up about a half-hour during the 6-hour-and-45-minute flight, but it wasn’t enough, Gasquet said. The flight attendants did the best they could to cobble together a Plan B.

About a half-hour before landing, they passed out plastic cups of champagne and then counted down from 10. At zero, everyone on the plane wished each other a happy new year. Through the window, Gasquet saw below the fireworks exploding in Honolulu that he had hoped he would be looking up at while feasting on roast pig at a luau that cost him $380 per person.

“Everybody was in the same boat,” Gasquet said. “We were all irritated, but we made the best of a bad situation.”

Gasquet said he is willing to try again to travel back a year depending on how negotiations with United go over compensation. But those plans will have to wait at least a few days until he’s back home. For the moment at least, he’s not getting too worked up over his failed plans.

The fact that Gasquet’s still on vacation might have something to do with his positive attitude, despite being someone who described himself as “not so much of a glass-half-full person.”

“Sitting on a beach in Hawaii,” he said, “you can’t be super upset.”

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