Sunday, my wife and I truly experienced a day from hell. Our two-week cruise of the coast of Norway ended in Amsterdam. Our flight home was scheduled to leave at noon, but the cruise people put us in a group to leave the ship at 7:30, which meant we’d have between 3½ and 4 hours to kill at the airport before we took off.
Various people at the airport were kind enough to help us kill that time, though, starting with whoever designed it. Unlike DFW, where you drive to within a few yards of your gate, at Amsterdam, the buses unloaded us at one end of the terminal, and we had a nice, mile long hike to get to the desk of United Airlines.
Once there, we got to stand in a long line to get up to where someone checked our passports. Then we got to stand in line once more to wait for a ticket agent. Of course, being at sea on a ship, we had no chance to print boarding passes, so we had to do that at the airport.
Once we checked our luggage and got our boarding passes, we got to wait in another line for a security check. Empty pockets, dump stuff in a tray, let a guy go through our carry-on luggage and confiscate my dangerous shaving cream and toothpaste. Really?
Then we got into another line for another passport check, but after waiting for 20 minutes or so, we were told we were in the wrong line and had to start over again. Finally got through there and got to go sit in a waiting area for an hour or so.
When our boarding group was called, we got to stand in line for yet another passport check. Since I look so much like a terrorist, they took me aside for a special security check, during which some agent groped me all over.
Are you counting with me? That’s three passport checks and two security checks so far, plus the confiscation of my highly treacherous shaving cream and toothpaste. Can you see how much fun we were having?
They finally let me board the airplane, which had been sitting at the gate for well over an hour. Once everyone got aboard, they decided to do a preflight inspection—apparently no one thought of this during the hour-plus the plane had been sitting there—and they discovered a bad tire on one of the main landing gears.
When they discovered this, the captain announced there would be a delay while they decided whether or not to replace it. After flipping coins or consulting their Ouija board or whatever, they decided it should be replaced, so we got to wait another 20 or 30 minutes.
By the time we finally took off, our three-hour layover at Dulles had turned into barely an hour. The nine-hour flight gave us plenty of time to worry about whether or not we’d be able to make our connection to DFW.
At Dulles, we got to go through another passport check and another security check. This time they decided my small bottle of Listerine looked subversive, so the guy confiscated it, even though it had now passed numerous checks going over and coming back.
Finally through with security, we had to wait for our checked luggage and retrieve it so we could wait in another line to recheck it. Once we were through with all that procedure, we set out to find our connecting flight.
Once again, we found ourselves at farthest end from where we needed to be. As we half walked and half ran, I thought my atrial fibrillation was kicking in. It didn’t, but I did feel weird, and I guess a guy driving one of the little courtesy carts thought I looked like I needed help, so he offered us a ride for the last mile or so to our gate. Without his help, I doubt we would have made the plane, but we managed.
To top off a wonderful day, as we entered Texas, the captain announced that there was a severe storm centered over DFW airport. The skies were so clear as I looked out the window I couldn’t believe what he was saying, but apparently it was a highly localized storm. We entered a holding pattern, and just as we were about to get to the point where he would have to divert to another airport to get fuel, he got a landing clearance.
The people picking us up had been told we would be 30 minutes early, so they rushed to get there. Then they got to wait until we finally landed nearly an hour late, missing their supper in the process. I told them if I ever asked them for a ride to or from the airport again to remind me that I’d taken my last commercial flight. From now on, if we can’t get there by car, we ain’t going.
Writers may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.
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Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.