Sunday, July 5, 2015

OT: Off to Europe- 6/13 STL-EWR-BER or so we'd hoped.

And we're off and running....

I got up at 5:45 this morning, Sky got up and 6. A quick brush of the teeth and a shower and we're off to the airport courtesy of my ever-patient wife Gina. We say out good-byes, Gina takes a couple of snaps at the terminal and we go inside. A few minutes later, our bags are checked, tickets in hand as we excitedly walk down to our gate.

Rats! The flight to O'Hare ( or as we now call it, O'Hell) is delayed due to ground fog. Sky and I are put on another flight, we actually leaves earlier, so we still have hope of making our connection to Newark. This flight ends up leaving just 15 minutes after our original schedule, so no big deal. I can see wisps of disipating ground fog when we land but the viz is actually pretty good.

Now we hit our first road block:  Our flight to Newark has been cancelled! Those dirty, rat-bastards! We stand in line for 30 minutes at the customer dis-service counter to get help. They can't get us to Newark til later tonite, they will put us up in a hotel in Newark but this means we won't get to Berlin for a day and we have to hang out in O'Hell for a day. Crap! That's a bunch of Horse-hockey!

We take our $7 meal vouchers ( like you can buy lunch for $7 at O'Hell) and go to Chili's to have lunch and think about what we want to do. 

People Watching at O'Hell.

I decided to call Uniteds Customer Dis-service on the phone and talk to them.This actually pays off. A sympathetic woman, I'll call her Michelle, takes pity on us and says she'll talk to Lufthansa to see if they'll accept our tickets. It's a longshot, I hold out little hope but it's worth a shot.

She keeps me on hold for 10-15 minutes but then comes back with good news. Lufthansa will accept our tickets but their flight goes to Munich then connects to Berlin. We'll arrive nine hours later than planned but not a day late. Do I want to make the change? YES!!!

Michelle then puts me on hold for another 10 minutes while she gets the transfer squared away. When she comes back, she lets me know the flight numbers, the times of the flight, the gates and her apologies. Best she could do and at least she made an effort, which we do appreciate. We just have to hang out at O'Hell for the next 9 hours...

We go down to the gate, it's a United gate. Checking with the gate agent, it turns out to be a shared gate but the correct one. We don't have enough reading material for 8 hours worth of busy, so we take a stroll through the airport terminals, sit to people-watch, return to the gate and airplane watch.

"I'm just waiting on a plane..."

Sky makes friends with a couple of German foreign exchange students returning home and talks to them for an hour. We split a pizza and watch the sun start to descend towards the horizon.

Our plane is tugged over. He had hoped to ride on a 747 but turns out to be an Airbus 340. Still cool and probably better service.

"Finally on our way to Berlin!"

We get on the plane, find our seats, stow our carry-ons' and give each other a high-five. Now we can have a meal, get some sleep and we'll be there.

But O'Hell is not through with us yet. 

Thunderstorms have spawned in the moist air around Lake Michigan and now we have a weather delay for the O'Hell area. Dang! At least we've taxied out even if we're shut-down on a taxi-way. The flight attendants bring us juice and water as we watch the rain and lightening around the airport. I pull up my cell and it looks like we can get out to the east but with everybody trying to get in from there, there's probably not a whole lot of free airspace to do it in. If we can just stay out here...

Two hours later, the Captain makes his third announcement. This time it's good news, we'll be underway shortly! The crew fires up the engines, we finish our taxi and with the mighty roar of four jet engines, depart from our personal hell that is O'Hare. We're Munich bound. Hopefully this will be our only glitch the entire trip but that may be wishful thinking.

Tomorrow...Where are our bags? and our trip to the Flak Tower, Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.

No comments: