Just a heads-up – this post is going to be convoluted. Lots of moving parts; many places where I could go down a rabbit hole; much potential for rant. But I won’t rant, much, or at least I will try to avoid it.
First, do you remember when air travel was fun? The romance of the airport; the wanderlust just from walking though an international terminal; the dressing up and the making friends and the sense of camaraderie on the plane?
Now it’s just one headache after another. I told Rebekah today – wading through one more series of petty, arbitrary, useless documentation requirements and then still not being allowed to check-in – “I am so glad I saw so much of the world in my first sixty years, because I think maybe, this time, they have finally managed to kill that part of my soul that wants to travel.”
Seriously, folks. Rebekah’s trip to Bahrain has been planned and paid for since November. But, starting with the Raleigh “winter storm” of last Thursday-Friday, getting her in the air today has been a week-long journey through, no exaggeration, Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell.
Here she is on the phone in three of many locations. Phone time amounted to a total of close to ten hours of trying to get things to make sense, talking with people who have no idea what they are doing, bureaucracy, contradictions, “on hold”, and the occasional glimmer of hope).
So the “snow” in Wake Forest closed down the Covid testing sites. But you have to have a test within 72 hours of travel. Then Istanbul Airport had two days of chaos because of a freak blizzard (she was flying Turkish Air). Next the rebooked flight would not allow check-in because Expedia – one of the villains of this story – made untenable bookings. So we had to re-book; but now the latest Covid test was expiring. So she had to have another test – which it turns out had a faulty QR code – with a tight result turnaround timetable. Then Turkish Air canceled Rebekah’s new flight. So the rebooking – now with Lufthansa/United – cost an additional $600. Then the United Airlines check-in portal would not accept Rebekah’s travel documents, and it would not recognize a Johnson & Johnson inoculation, and then rejected her check-in because she “needed a ‘transit visa'” to change planes in Frankfurt.
Get the picture….? And that is just a sampling.
Boom! Bam! Whack! Wham! A series of stress-inducing roadblocks, setbacks, requirements impossible to meet because they were bogus, circumstances beyond anyone’s control, etcetera etcetera.
But Friday dawned, the clouds parted, and we made our way to the airport, several hours early for her 2:30 flight, to walk the process through at the desk. Rebekah had every document imaginable at the ready, the desk agent was more than helpful, and by the time I got back from parking the car – on the roof, of course – Rebekah was happily waving three boarding passes.
Yay! Happy happy happy.
Then we hear it is starting to snow in Newark – Rebekah’s destination to connect with Lufthansa – and there is a “bomb cyclone” blizzard coming in this evening.
So through security she goes before downing a $30 chicken sandwich at the ‘bistro” and arriving at her gate just before the 1:00 flight takes off.
“Mind if I join?” she inquires.
Bingo, she’s in. Landing in Newark early rather than delayed and in good time to camp out at the Lufthansa gate well before her flight to Frankfurt.
Rebekah is going, by the way, Raleigh to Newark to Frankfurt to Riyadh to Manama.
Godspeed, Rebekah. Next vacation, let’s try something stress free!