Wednesday, October 31, 2007
3 Airlines....4 Airports ....and 3 continents....WHAT A MESS!!!! How would Erma Bombeck handle this????
The good news is that I ARRIVED SAFELY. Very tired....there were several delays. It all started out smoothly....was able to check my bags all the way through to Chicago...from our little local airport (2 1/2 hrs) away...on South African air...so no need to drag all bags from domestic terminal to international terminal in Joberg! Not a fun place to be just now...as they are doing SOOOOO much construction for the 2010 World Cup at the moment. At any rate...nice flight to Joberg...except for the lunch....unflavored cous-cous, shredded carrot with raisins and a piece of sandwich beef.No choices...that was what we ate. So I ate the shredded carrot salad....and bread with butter then as soon as I hit Joberg....RAN to the FOOD court and grabbed some wonderful Indian chichen curry! YUM! Then it was off for a walk to the international terminal next door....where my Virgin Atlantic ticket counter would open at 5. It was 3:45 when I arrived....nothing much to do....no shops....so stood there ....first in line. Figured that would be good.....maybe get great seats! Unfortunately...from there it was pretty much downhill! They didn't open the ticket counters until 5:50..... and never having flown Virgin before....they couldn't enter my "Virgin club card" for the reward miles....as I WROTE THE NUMBER DOWN incorrectly.....but I thought somewhere else in my paper work it had to be correct...I'd look for it...then get it done online. She was able to give me an aisle seat...but no Bulkheads were available....shame. I collected my boarding pass...and went through..... made it through passport control....SA actually stamps you...much like Ireland....when you come into the country and WHEN you LEAVE! Got to my gate....a heck of a walk....and got to looking at my boarding pass....then realized that I only had 1 to England!!! Not all the way through. So I went to the gate counter.....to ask questions of people there....they were delta...still....so not their problem! When a VIrgin employee came....told me he was only gate person...I might have to go back to the ticketing side....beyond security..and passport control to get info.??????HMMMMMMMMM now how does this work????? They never let incoming passengers into departure areas????? So I headed toward...passport control....and as I got there...it was backed up...like you wouldn't believe????HMMMMM ....I have to be inventive....well.....when in Africa..... do like they do....break the rules!!!! So as a BUNCH of dark suited CREW MEMBERS walked past me....going through Passport Control.....against traffic!!!!! I decide that I will follow...in my brown pants and beige linen jacket....I didnt' think I stood out that much???? As we walked past security who were searching people...pulled from passport line...the last PILOT in front of me glanced my direction...but said nothing!!!! SO I SAfely made it through!Now on to the quest... to make it through the security checkpoiint just beyond that...I must have looked like I knew what I was doing, because I breezed through that part....through all the open and closed doors... marked for CREW ONLY! Until I ended up back at the ticket counter....well, the little girl apologised that ALL my boarding cards for the next airline were not there...said they should have come through automatically. But then she actually looked at my ticket...and saw that I was changing to UNITED ....she called over the counter manager and asked what I needed to do. WELL, SHE said that I would have to go to the TRansfer desk in Heathrow ....to get the next segments of my boarding cards.THEN SHE asked the right question!!!!! "HOW DID YOU GET BACK HERE TO THE TICKET COUNTER?????" I knew by the expression on her face....I had done something terribly wrong???!!!! So i fessed up.... now she was horrified....but very helpful. She informed me that she was afraid I might not get back through.....without a major problem, as in totally missing my plane!!!!. SHe then offered to walk me back through to see if she could smooth the way. She spoke to people at security scanning....I am assisting this customer through as she had a problem with her boarding card....they smiled and waved us through. Then it was on to the "PULL THEM OUT OF LINE" security room, she once again explained that there had been a boarding card problem.....and that I had walked through security unstopped....they looked puzzled, smiled and told us to carry on. Now for me the longest part of the journey occured now....with the 20 feet or so to go....past all the passport control officers...with my back to the "pullem out of line security people" behind me.... I kept picturing them letting me get almost to the end of the glass tunnel....and hearing "Madame, please come back!!!!!" but as we got closer to the final doorway I began to relax....then I heard it...."Madame" I kept walking....."Madame" at this point me and my partner in crime turned..... and realized that they were ....pulling another person from the line for further questioning about their papers!!!! WHEW, this adventure probably cost me about 10 yrs off my life...as the adrenalyn was definitely pumping!!! So I hugged my helper...thanked her again and again...then ran back to the gate...did I mention I had left my hand luggage with a very kind woman who was emmigrating to the UK. We met on the East London plane....and that helped trememdously! THen it was onto the plane....and off to London.... a fairly uneventful flight....except for leaving South Africa over an hour late...someone had to be taken from flight...sick....or MAYBE THEY BROKE THE SECURITY RULES???? :O) And their luggage had to be taken off as well. The pilot made up most of the time but when I arrived into London...still had to clear security, get my new boarding cards...and get to the gate. The new ticket coutner person found an anomoly on my SA air luggage tags...they hadn't checked them to Nashville...but only sent them as far as Chicago! Since we were short on time...he phoned baggage...and asked they be further ticketed to Nashville by hand.....and it was off to the races....could I possibly make a rest room stop first. I have been traveling for about 22 hrs at this point! I did a quick pit stop...ran to the gate posted ....it was the wrong gate....had to go back to the inside terminal...to find the correct posting.....then back to the correct gate....ANOTHER 10 yrs. gone from my life I am sure! The plane is late in leaving....an accident on the road to Heathrow.. has delayed our flght out! Not all crew are here! Yikes...... so I sit and sew....manage to get another rose on Baltimore block done! Finally board....and we sit some more..... pull out of gate....then back to the gate..... something not working proplerly....NOT WHAT YOU want to hear when flying over the ATLANTIC ocean! They get sorted....but now we are leaving an hour 15 min. late. I have to go through passport control in Chicago...get my luggage.... and clear customs...with about 2 hrs and change. But the flight was great...service...and smooth...had two seats to spread out on. WHAT A PLEASURE at this point. I did get a little sleep...and when we arrived into Chicago....ran to passport control. I made it through there just fine...as MY GUILTY FACE hadn't been broadcast for breeching SECURITY checks at Joberg airport YET!!!! I am off to collect my luggage...and I see the WRAPPED duffle containing my quilts....yeah...it was one of the first off the plane..... but I wait and wait...and WAIT...until there are no more.... the man at the baggage informs me that there are no more coming?! What does this mean. His supervisor collects my baggage ticket claim stub...then they enter it onto a scan machine....It never was checked into UNITED system. So my 19.6 KG bag containing....ALL MY CLOTHES, gifts for various people..and worse yet.....ALL THE BABY GIFTS KNITTED AND SEWN FOR MY 2 soon to be born grandchildren are gone!!! There were also several hand knitted scarves for myself and the girls....and beautiful hand knit socks for me and my daughter and the baby!!!! So cute. A Very sad day let me tell you...I started to cry....cried all the way through customs....and while rechecking my bags....AND cried back through security. I hoped it was a mistake...but it appears...that the bag went missing before it was entered into United's computers...so before London...as in Joberg or at Heathrow ...while in transit! I am sick about it all....and I arrived with what I had on, a pair of jeans...and a shirt...with one extra pair of underwear. Not even an extra bra!!! So today...as day number two ends....with no word on my bag...I broke down and went to walmart...bought a couple of shirts, a pair of black tracksuit like pants and unerwear and bra! Bare minimum...but necessary, Did I mention that I am flying out to my mothers in Pennsylvania on Thursday....day after tomorrow??? With no clothes????? Hope they find the luggage soon...as all my sweaters and warm clothes are in that bag. It was actually frosty here this morning...so getting colder...but hey today is HAlloween. Now I didn't mention...but I have half of my traditional costume....the hat and purse are in the missing bag.But will be passing out candy in whatever I have....I will post photos later.It is so cool looking...very pleased with how it turned out. I can't access any photos to share at moment....so this will have to do.Have a lovely day....I am planning on scrapbooking as the first place I headed for when I arrived was to replace some of my scrap items. Today I am off to fabric store....YIKES...I may not be able to afford any clothes after that!!!!! Pray that they find a large black American tourister bag full of my goodies, so I can add back a few years of what I lost in the past couple of days!!!
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