- The team of 31 students, teachers and parents spent 48 hours traveling home from Japan to Texas.
- A teacher who shared the story on TikTok explained that the group had to take four flights.
For 31 high school students, teachers and parents, this Japanese adventure ended in a travel nightmare.
Speaking with Insider, Trevor Boffone, a Spanish teacher at Carnegie Pioneer High School, shared the story of how the group’s journey home turned into an ordeal of four 48-hour flights.
A group of people ended a 9-day trip to Japan hosted by EF Tours. They had planned to fly from Osaka domestic airport, but when they arrived at the check-in counter, they were told that they had no tickets.
Boffone posted about the ordeal on his TikTok account @official_dr_boffone. The video has gone viral since it was posted on Sunday, racking up 1.6 million views.
“Two days ago, we arrived at Osaka airport. We tried to check in, but they said, ‘No. You have a reservation, not a reservation,'” Bofon said in the video.
This is just the beginning of the fiasco.
@official_dr_boffone I was stuck in Japan for 48 hours with 31 students and teachers. We can finally go home, but we still have 42 hours to orbit the Earth. Osaka > Bangkok > Munich > Charlotte > Houston. It’s going to be an adventure, guys! #japantrip #japantravel #travelproblems #AmericanAirlines #eftours #japanairlines #aroundtheworld #aroundtheworldchallenge ♬ OST – Dr_Boffone
Boffon said they were told that American Airlines did not send the group’s flight information to its partner Japan Airlines despite purchasing the tickets.
Bovon said the American Airlines flight they had originally booked was from Osaka to Tokyo, Japan. The team will fly from Tokyo to Dallas, Texas on a long-haul flight, with a final connecting flight to Houston, Texas.
Japan Airlines is the partner airline that plans to fly the team from Osaka to Tokyo.
The flight was booked through EF Tours and the group arrived at the airport with a confirmed paid flight booking.
But the staff at the Japan Airlines check-in counter could not find their tickets.
“They had maybe eight check-in counters open, and we took all of them at the same time,” Bovon said. “I think everyone at JAL is trying to figure it out. They keep telling us there’s a reservation, but there’s really no reservation.”
Bofeng and other adults in the group were told that American Airlines had not sent flight information to JAL, so they did not have tickets to Tokyo.
American Airlines and Japan Airlines did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“To be honest, I didn’t believe it at first. I thought they were trying to play a prank on us,” Carolina Escobedo, a student of the group, said in an interview with KHOU.
This is no prank. Initially, Bovon said all parties involved rejected responsibility and helped the group find a new route home.
In a statement to Insider, a representative for EF Tours said: “We regret that this group’s flight was disrupted due to a miscommunication between American Airlines and Japan Airlines on the reservation. EF Tours’ reservation record has always been The group’s flight was designated as confirmed by our systems.”
When the group called American Airlines, Bovon said the airline offered to rebook them for a flight departing in 12 days.
That didn’t work out, Bovon said, especially since schools were opening and the airline wasn’t providing hotel accommodations or food.
They left two days later due to new schedules, but still needed 48 hours to get home
Ultimately, EF Tours worked with American Airlines to find the group their way home, but two nights later than planned, Boffone said.
“When we learned that the airline was unable to provide a timely resolution, EF Tours immediately booked a new itinerary for the group in order to return a group of this size home as quickly as possible,” the representative told Insider.
The new itinerary will take 48 hours.
“The best they could do is have us take two different routes,” Bovon said.
Both teams flew from Osaka to Bangkok, Thailand, where they spent nine hours.
From there, half the group (including Boffone) took an 11-hour flight to Munich, Germany. The flight was flying from Munich to Charlotte, North Carolina, with a final connection to Houston.
The second group flew from Bangkok to Paris, France, where it flew to Dallas, and finally flew back to Houston.
“The whole thing feels like a racetrack,” he said.
Both groups arrived at their homes around 5 p.m. on Monday — 48 hours after leaving Osaka.
Initially, the group tried to stay positive. They eat Thai food at Bangkok airport and airport pretzels in Munich.
“It was fun,” he said. “But at the end of the day, morale was low and we were miserable.”
Buffon posted about their adventures on TikTok, with his videos racking up millions of views
Boffone documented the entire process of TikTok. After a video went viral outlining the situation and their new route home, Bofon recorded updates at Bangkok and Munich airports. He has posted a total of 6 videos with close to 2 million views. He told Insider that once he takes a break, he’ll have more to share.
@official_dr_boffone POV: You’ve tried 72 hours to get home from Osaka, Japan because American Airlines failed, and now you’re stuck in Bangkok, Thailand for 9 hours #travelproblems #AmericanAirlines #eftours #travelnightmare #bangkok #onenightinbangkok #bangkokthailand ♬ One Night in Bangkok – Original Single Versions / from “Chess” – Murray Head
Viewers who learned of this were shocked.
“Sounds like a nightmare,” one commenter said on the original video.
In a light-hearted video posted by Bangkok airport, another view read: “Your students will never forget traveling the world with you, your attitude is amazing!”
Now that everyone’s gone home, they’re exhausted, Bovon said.
“I felt like I was running a marathon without my consent,” he said. “And without training.”
Plus, the organization now has to figure out who will pay for the extras they get. Food receipts piled up, unscheduled Uber rides cost extra money, and some teachers had to take unpaid leave on Monday.
“Oh, the airline lost my bag,” Bovon said.
“I worry that the memories of this trip will not be the good times in Japan, but the nightmares coming home,” he said. “Japan is fun, but I think I need a break from travel.”