Sunday, May 15, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

We all know that air travel is stressful but I don't think that one has ever truly experienced travel anxiety until they've flown through Europe. My European adventure didn't end in Florence. Allow me to explain...

Elle and I left for the airport at 4:45am on Saturday. When we got to the airport around 5, it was already slam packed (primarily with other students) and, like most businesses in Italy, the operation was incredibly inefficient. I spent over an hour waiting in the Air France line to check in. When I finally got up to the counter, I was told that I was only allowed 1 free bag and that I would have to wait in another line and pay €60 in order to receive my boarding pass. I waited in the next line for another hour or so, paid the fee then went back to the check in counter to grab my ticket. Believe it or not, I was one of the lucky ones. Some students had to pay over €400 for one extra bag.

I got to my flight with only a few minutes to spare before it was scheduled to take off, but we waited at the gate for over an hour. Why? Because we were waiting on about 10 people to arrive. They were going through the grueling check in process and the ground staff wouldn't let the plane take off until they boarded. Um, hello? Have you ever heard of a plane waiting for its passengers? Nope. Even the flight attendants and pilot were angry.

We were flying to Paris and about 40 of us had a connection to Atlanta an hour and a half after we were scheduled to land. We arrived in Paris 10 minutes before our flight took off so, obviously, we all missed the connection. We raced to the Air France info desk and, by the time I had waited another hour and a half, all of the direct flights to Atlanta for the day had been overbooked. My only option: fly to Newark and hour later for another connection to Atlanta.

9 hours later, I found myself in Newark, New Jersey. When we landed, I realized that my connecting flight was not departing from Newark but from JFK. After talking to several people, I was able to get a cab voucher, took a taxi 45 minutes to JFK, and barely made my flight back to Atlanta. Of course, the pilot was late and, when we landed, our gate was occupied. Not my day.

After over 24 hours of travel and confusion, I arrived home at about 10:30 pm...8 hours later than expected. I would like to personally thank the ground staff at the airport in Florence for giving me one last taste of Italy's tragic flaw and for screwing the days of over 40 people instead of just 10. Ah Dio!

Regardless of all of the chaos, I'm home and, while it feels weird and I don't like the ATL quite as much as the FLR, I'm slowly readjusting to the real world again. Everything is so different!


1 comment:

  1. Hey Britt!
    That sounds AWFUL. I hate JFK airport. It's insane. I'm glad you're finally home though! If it makes you feel any better, I flew back from Pittsburgh to Ft. Lauderdale in the last row, right in front of the bathroom sitting in a window seat with no window, listening to a baby scream for 2.5 hours, and coming down with illness from a sick person, which I am still fighting off. Not as bad as yours, but...I feel ya, cuz.