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 Delta.com 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!
Labels: Air travel