Monday, May 21, 2007

Flying backwards.

It sounds simple.
A traveller goes to the airport of Los Angeles.
To the building housing the airline Delta.
Checks in for a flight to La Paz, Mexico.
Some time later the plane is boarded and after two hours of flying is the safe arrival.
This is how it should go.

But waiting at gate 36B of Los Angeles International Airport it was announced by Delta that the plane had a delay of 1 hour.
After 1 hour it was announced the plane had a new delay of another hour.
Then it was announced that the flight was cancelled.
A group of about 40 passengers were stunned.
The desk stewardesses were asked many questions but they had hardly any answers.
Airport rage developed in front of the Delta counter.

Eventually it was decided by Delta that the 40 passengers were to travel on an American Airways flight to Los Cabos.
Leaving one hour later.
This implicated running from the second to the first floor to recuperate the luggage.
Sprinting out of the building.
Hurrying among the many passengers to another building, the one of American Airways.
Going to the check in counters where the Delta guide was unable to convince an American Airways employee to check in the 40 stranded and sweating passengers.
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking and it became clear that it would be highly appreciated if La Paz was reached because the next morning the flight was booked La Paz-Mexico City-Amsterdam.
It took awhile but the Delta representative managed to talk to the American Airways supervisor and that resulted in dropping of luggage and getting a boarding pass.
But it was first come first serve.
The ones of the 40 who were too far down in the line would be too late.
American Airways didn’t want to delay their flight for us unfortunates.

In this group of 40 were 4 Europeans.
And all 4 got the SSSS on their boarding pass.
Fervent and loyal blog readers will remember what this means.
The Homeland Security computer had determined that the 4 travellers were a threat to the nation and needed to go through the highest level of security.
The Danish engineer of MAN, the German private doctor of the King of Saudi Arabia and his wife and the international nomad, with 15 minutes to go ran upstairs to the SSSS section to face 500 people waiting to be checked.
To get in line would mean to miss the plane.
And the plane the next day.
In utter desperation a security woman of Pakistani origin was requested to guide us to the front of the lines to give us priority.
Somehow she understood how urgent it was and she was very collaborative.
But the DSA-people had no intention to wave the 4 Europeans through without the regular checking.
There was a body search.
There was X-raying.
The hand luggage needed to be opened.
Everything needed to be taken out of it.
A white cloth was wiped on each section and put in a machine taking time to find out if any bombs were hidden in the suitcase.
It took forever and ever and ever.
Once liberated from the intense scrutiny because the USA believes to be at war, gate 26 was at the very end.
In these circumstances it pays off to be in shape.
To have been running over the last months.
Zigzagging between the thousands of passengers a run was made to gate 26.
To board as one of the last passengers.

The 30 passengers were flown to Los Cabos airport while their destination was La Paz.
Delta solved this problem by having a bus available at Los Cabos to drive the 30 adventurers to La Paz.
A trip of 3 hours.
However, arrived at Los Cabos, the luggage of 7 passengers was missing.
Included the suitcase of this globetrotter.
It took 2 hours for an American Airlines employee to administer these 7 cases.
While in the bus outside the other 23 passengers were getting upset about the bus not leaving.

Eventually the bus left and arrived after 9 o’clock in La Paz.

The most interesting part of the journey was the interaction with the other 39 travellers.
Some stay low key and their presence is hardly noticed all the way.
Some get upset and start shouting and being obnoxious while this serves no purpose nor has any positive effects at all.
Others remain relaxed but alert.
While it was a group of persons who didn’t speak with each other before the trouble started, once it got complicated there was a fraternizing and sisternizing without borders.
People expressed their frustrations and worries to each other.
Helped each other.
Got into conversations about former experiences
Beginnings of friendships developed.

Of course it was more than a hassle how the travel plan changed.
But the experience had a tremendous beauty because of being able to leave the hassle for what it was and focus on the positive opportunities that came out of it.

One aspect of the hassle is the missing suitcase.
Some blogs ago there was a worry about how many socks to take along.
As it turned out, a rather unjustified worry: there are no more socks now and probably they are lost forever and ever.


1 comment:

Wendy said...

Never a dull moment in the life and times of M!!