Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Monday, December 20, 2010

I am typing this from the plane thanks to Google and their free holiday wifi promotion. I am also in first class, for the first time ever. I got a real meal, with real plates & silverware. And unlimited drinks. How will I ever go back to the cattle class?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you'll know that France has been experiencing some major snow delays. After waiting at the airport for more than 7 hours, my flight to Chicago was canceled. Air France refused to help those who lived in Paris, telling us instead we all had to go home (without our baggage) and call their hotline to rebook. I worked my way up to the front of the counter and said "How much is it going to cost me to call that number?" The employee replied "32 cents per minute." Now y'all know how much I hate paying an arm and a leg to call customer service hotlines. So I said "Wait a minute...I (okay, The Company) paid over $1200 for my ticket. And now you expect me to pay even more to rebook?" She shrugged and told me my other option was to go wait in line for a minimum of 4 hours at the ticketing booth. No thank you.

So I called C and started trying to make my way out of the airport. Have you ever tried to exit the boarding area? It's not an easy task. But I finally found my way out, went through customs (!) and started walking towards the RER. Along the way, I heard a couple of Air France employees talking about how there were standby seats on the flight to Atlanta. My French side though "Hmmm...." and I did a quick 180 and walked back upstairs. I saw a Delta counter with only a few people in line, so I decided to try my luck.

At first they kept trying to tell me I had to go see Air France, but luckily I had my ticket printed out from so they finally agreed to help me. After looking at my ticket, he said that unfortunately all the flights to Minneapolis were full for the next two days and that I should just go home. I am supposed to be at an important work training session 8-5 Monday-Wednesday, so I told the dude they'd told me at the gate to get put on standby for Atlanta. He looked at me a bit skeptically, but finally agreed to try. I also told him that my co-worker had been upgraded to business class due to all the trouble, and so he said okay and upgraded me to first class for the connecting flight. So then it was a race to get back through security and to the gate on time. Would I make it?

Half of me was hoping I wouldn't and that I'd have to go back home - it was quite sad to leave C all alone for the holidays, plus he'd been taunting me with pictures of my Christmas present under the tree. But the other half of me knew that considering the number of flight cancellations, it was probably better to get out if I could. Once I got to the gate for the Atlanta flight, I heard the stewards say there were 75 people on the standby list, and that they were going to take people on a first-come, first-serve basis. So I used my best French technique to slowly work my way up to the front of the group, and I was able to get one of those precious little tickets the minute they opened. Of course all the Americans were hootin' and hollerin' about the lack of lines and how the French people were budging, but hey - in these kinds of cases, it's every man for himself.

We finally made it on the plane and to Atlanta, 2 hours late, so I unfortunately missed my connecting flight and had to stay overnight in a hotel with no luggage. Which brings me to my packing tips - I've lost my bags enough times now that whenever I fly, I always keep certain things in my carry-on. I have my computer, snacks (which came in really handy due to all the delays), my phone charger, some make-up essentials, a brush and some clean underwear. I also try to have money in whatever the currency is of the country I'll be going to. The one thing I forgot this time was my computer charger, which is a bummer since I've only got an hour of battery left. But it's a good reminder to keep anything you vitally need - contacts, medications, etc with you and not in your checked baggage - you never know what will happen.

As of now, my bags are still in Paris & no one can tell me when they'll be delivered. It's not that big of a deal, but I am a bit worried for my presents - the CDG airport employees are known to have sticky fingers, and I don't want them stealing my bottle of Moët Champagne or any of my other presents. Or my work computer - which I normally take with me, but it's so heavy and I already had my personal computer in my carry-on, so for once I stuck it in my checked luggage.

Anyways, that's the saga of my trip home. I've taken it all in pretty good spirits - I'm not much of worrier since everything tends to work out in the end - it's all just part of International travel I guess. (Though I realize how lucky I am to not have been doing this all with a few children in tow...)

Happy Holidays everyone, and safe travels to wherever you may be heading!



Blogger Crystal said...

oh my! That was quite the ordeal! I don't know how you stayed so calm and level headed the whole time. I would have been curled up in a ball in an airport bathroom stall crying my eyes out. Glad it worked out though and that you were able to get out of snowy Paris. I'm crossing my fingers for a Christmas miracle regarding your luggage though...let's hope that Moet finds its way back to you.

Merry Christmas and enjoy your time in the States. Hopefully we can both fly back to Paris (and our Frenchmen!) with no troubles!

December 20, 2010 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Alisa Tank said...

Good job! Having had a good friend who used to be a flight attendant, I've also gotten pretty good at being pushy to get what I need at airports. Plus I'm also pushy as hell when need be ;)

One of the consultants I traveled with to Vietnam had his bags lost for 5 days, and he had no extra clothes with him. He's a tall guy, and in every shop we went into in Hanoi to try to find him a pair of pants, the shopgirls just giggled at him and pointed, because of course they didn't have pants that large!

Hope you get all your bags back soon - with everything in them!

December 21, 2010 at 3:05 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

That trip would have been total hell with a toddler. Most trips are horrendous with small kids and babies, but once you start getting delays and having to dash about, it all becomes a staggering nightmare.

Fingers crossed you baggage arrives intact, and soon!

December 21, 2010 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

You are so lucky! Luckily I was already in the states but my husband was supposed to be on the direct flight to MSP on Sunday. I got an email from him on Saturday night that the flight was cancelled and that all the Delta phone lines were closed so he had no idea when he could get out. I was up ridiculously early because of jetlagged babies so I started scouring the delta site for a different number to call. I finally found the right number and managed to get someone online immediately! They booked him into business class on the direct flight tuesday, which I was thrilled about. But then, while on hold waiting for them to issue the ticket for me, I went online and managed to change the reservation and get him a free seat on the direct flight on monday. After travelling back and forth for years and have everything that could possibly go wrong, go wrong (and generally when I was travelling alone with a baby...) I learned the same thing as you- only pushy works. The only bad part was driving home through the snow storm yesterday- yikes! Nothing like driving through white-out conditions on slippery interstates to make you feel like a real Northern WI girl. Hope you made it all the way home safely!

December 21, 2010 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I feel for you. We went back to the US for the holidays last year and ended up stuck in London for three days because of the snow. With two little kids. One of whom had the stomach flu and proceeded to vomit all over the hotel room. The hotel room we had to pay out-of-pocket for after the first night.

This year we are staying home in Italy.

Hope it's smoother on the way back!

December 22, 2010 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Animesh said...

Congratulations on finally getting back home KSam! Hope your luggage reaches too :).


December 23, 2010 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger fabriquefantastique said...

well. at least you got an upgrade, it pays to know the ropes. We all have lots of stories of flights from hell. Seasons Greetings!!

December 24, 2010 at 4:04 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

The last two times we went back to the US for Christmas, we got stuck in the airports. The first time, a huge snowstorm in Denver threw everything into a panic. We got stuck en route in Chicago, and overnighted with my cousins (which was nice). The standby lists for Denver were a mile-long, but my mother suggested we fly to Colorado Springs, which we were able to do luckily. Otherwise, I think we would have been there about a week waiting for a spot. Holiday flying!

January 7, 2011 at 9:28 PM  

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