Home at Last

Feb 20, 2005

Yesterday was my flight back to the US. And of course, it wouldn't be a true international flight for me unless at least seven things went wrong. I started the morning in Beauvais, a small town about an hour north of Paris. We were there because Lauren was flying to Scotland to visit her cousin and her flight left from the airport there instead of in Paris. Also, her flight left really early in the morning, so we spent the night there to make it easier. Well, after she left, I had to take a taxi to the train station in Beauvais. I got out pretty easy because someone else from the hotel had to go the the station too, so we split the cost of the cab. Once I got there, catching my train to Paris was no problem. We even arrived on time. Even in Paris things went smoothly. I caught the train to the airport, no problem. I got to the airport in time, checked in, and at the proper time I boarded the plane.

"Wow," I thought as I sat on the plane waiting to take off, "this is actually going pretty well for once." Of course, that's where everything fell apart. The captain informed us that the hydraulic lift used to load our baggage onto the airplane had broken. Our bags got loaded fine, but they couldn't get the machine away from the plane for us to take off. Well, after about half an hour they fixed it and we took off. The captain assured us we would still land at the scheduled time. Naturally, that didn't happen. We were about 20 minutes late landing. Because our flight had come from France, my luggage didn't automatically get forwarded to my connecting flight. I had to go to the baggage claim, get my luggage, go through customs, then re-check my bags. Keep in mind that because of our delayed take-off I had exactly a one-hour window before my connecting flight left.

So, I go to the baggage claim area and wait patiently. After at least 30 minutes of waiting, the bags finally start to appear. None of them are mine. I keep looking at my watch nervously. I have 20 minutes before my flight leaves, still no bags. I have 15 minutes before my flight leaves, still no bags. I decide "screw it," I'd rather be home than have my bags. I take off running through the airport. I assumed that the gate for my connecting flight will be nearby and 15 minutes will be ample time to make it there. Wrong again. It's all the way across the airport. I ran non-stop until I reached the gate. . . . . . . . five minutes after the plane had left.

By this time, I just want it all to end. I go back to the American Airlines ticket counter and they get me booked on a Delta flight to Atlanta that leaves in an hour. I go check-in with Delta. "I may actually get home tonight," I say to myself. I proceed through the Delta security check. I guess because I haven't had a haircut in a few months and haven't shaved in a week, they think I look like some kind of security threat. I get the full work-up. They thoroughly go through each of my bags. They pat me down, wave the metal detector over every inch of my body, make me take off my shoes, take off my belt, and empty my pockets. Despite this lengthy delay, I still get to the gate on time to board the plane. On the entire airplane, there were maybe 20 other people besides me.

I get to Atlanta on time and my mom is there to meet me. If you recall though, my luggage is still in Chicago because I didn't have time to claim it. So, I have to go to the other side of the airport once I arrive to file a missing bag report with American. Once there, they tell me that since Delta brought me to Atlanta, they have to find my bags for me, even though American is in possession of them. So, I walk back to the other side of the airport and file the claim with Delta. To their benefit, they were a lot more efficient than American. Where it took more than a week for American to return my lost bags in France, Delta had them back to me today (less than 24 hours).

It's good to finally be home.