Wow. Just wow. That’s all I can really say right now, at 7:19am England time. Yes. I’m still in England. And it’s Monday.
Let’s backtrack a bit though and re-cap my week in airports (either coming or going):
- Wednesday –
- Leave Manchester T2 for Rome
- Arrive Rome Ciampino
- Thursday –
- Leave Rome Ciampino
- Arrive Dusseldorf Weeze
- Saturday –
- Leave Dusseldorf (not Weeze..just regular Dusseldorf)
- Arrive London Gatwick
And then the real adventure begins. Sunday morning I wake up PUMPED for my life because I’m going HOME! The motherland! America! Get up at 4am to pack my sheets, catch the taxi at 5am and head to the airport by 545. But ohhh wait. The ticketing desk isn’t even open. And won’t be open, I will later find out, until 7am. (I assume 7am…I didn’t get up to check again until 715). In between 545 and 715am I stood with my luggage, by the board that shows the ticketing desks…then drug my luggage to a sitting area and sat reading. They kept playing these “don’t leave your luggage alone” messages on the loudspeaker so every time I wanted to check the board, I had to drag my luggage with me and risk losing my seat. Eventually, I just left it.
Right. The ticketing desk opens, I check my bags (4 pounds under the max weight! Go me!), go through security (quite a long queue), and make it to my gate..212! What luck! That’s my favourite number! Got a great seat by the window and watched the US Air plan taxi in and then put on NCIS. The sun was shining and I’m sure, were the windows not so thick, you could’ve heard birds chirping. We board the plane, a smidge later than estimated…okay…Ill still make my 2hr layover (technically 1.5 hours). No worries. We get on the plane, get seated…and then sit there…because of engine problems. We sit there for an hour. Okay. I’m not going to make my connection. I’ll re-book. No worries. I’m sure there are more US Air flights from Philly to Cleveland, right?
Then they told us we’re de-boarding the plane. We got little ticket things as we got off and were told to meet by this cafe just past duty free in a half hour for an update. But before that time came, they came over the loud speaker and said the entire flight was cancelled due to engineering problems. And then I started crying. I’m not going home.
I get back in the queue where they’re handing out instructions (basically a phone number to call to re-book our connections). Great.I call the number and ask if I can get a refund. The woman says yes but to make sure I had another flight to take before she cancelled it. So I get off the phone, called my mom (had to put $15 of credit on my phone…I ran it all down because I didn’t think I’d need it again!)…then had to PAY $14 to use the internet at the airport on my laptop (got it for 24 hours though…that’s how I’m blogging from the airport) and checked more flights. There wasn’t a single flight from Manchester to the United States. I was going to have to stay another night and catch a flight in the morning.
So we’re supposed to pick up our luggage again. Okay. But wait! It gets better. Immigration won’t let us down to the baggage area until 2pm. And it was 1. But wait! It gets EVEN better yet. Everyone who bought items from Duty Free, had to RETURN them to Duty Free because they couldn’t leave the airport. So you could either return them or have them held at Duty Free. Either way, they weren’t leaving the airport.
We had to go through passport control…even though we never left the country…AND Customs, once we got our bags. And then we were taken to a coach that took us to an airport near the hotel. Things started to look up from here. I’d met a girl from Texas after I got off the phone with US Air so at least I had someone to talk to. The hotel they took us to was super nice. Like…the nicest hotel I’ve ever been in (not counting the hotel I stayed in in Washington D.C….that one was LEGIT). Stood at the end of the queue (always my luck) and got a room, 775. For free, paid for by the airline. I got a massive bed, a sitting area (couch and coffee table and all), a TV (which I haven’t watched in almost 3 months), free wifi, and a big bathroom……all to myself! FUN!
I ended up sitting on the bed and calling Continental to see if there were seats on their 9am flight to Newark…and then flight from Newark to Cleveland. There were! So I called US Air and cancelled my flight with them today at 1 (refund of $850 plus my luggage which the guy refunded even though I don’t think they’re supposed to) and then I called Continental and booked the 9am flight. It would’ve been $1300 but the first woman I talked to said it would be cheaper if I booked a return flight, so I did. $860. I only lost $10! WIN. (I would’ve stayed on the US Air flight at 1 today but I wouldn’t have gotten to Philly until later and I couldn’t find any late flights from Philly to Cleveland so I’d have to stay in Philly for the night too).I put on the TV and on BBC 4…NCIS was on! WINNER!
Dinner was at 5, for free on the Airline. We didn’t get to order off the menu (I planned on ordering something expensive..just to make the airline pay!) but it was adequate. Got back to my room, took a long shower (in the nicest bathroom ever!), and put on the BBC. Some movie, Just Henry was on…so I watched it. Cried a bit (it was moving!) and afterwards Michael Buble Christmas came on…so I put the sleep timer on and fell asleep to Michael Buble singing Christmas songs. Got a pull 8 hours of sleep. The first time in weeks.
Woke up at 5am and turned on the BBC again. Saw that Kim Jong Il had died of a heart attack (or stroke, different stories were coming in). Called my sister (it was only midnight in Ohio) and chatted with her a bit. Got dressed, took my luggage down (accidentailly got off on the first floor…forgot that 0 is the ground floor here), checked out of the hotel, and caught the taxi to the airport. Again.
So my adventure began again. Except this time, the ticketing desk was open already and the queue for security wasn’t long at all (although I did make the buzzer thing go off). Bought some water, a cereal bar, and a book at WH Smith, and wandered down to Cafe Nero, where I am now, for a croissant and a view of the gates board. We should be boarding in a bit, 815, so I’m signing off for now. Hopefully the next time I get online, I’ll be back home, in Ohio.