Friday, May 6, 2016

What a Misadventure!!!

I left the MSP airport about 10 PM on Monday, May 2. I was happy to see that I had an entire row to myself and thought I would be able to sleep. Well, that surely didn't happen again for a very long time.

We were finished with the evening meal service about the time we left the eastern border of Canada and I could see the tip of Greenland appearing on the flight map. Then suddenly the map showed the plane flying south instead of east. My first thought was did something terrible happen again at an airport in Europe. Well in a bit the pilot announced we were flying to JFK in New York to fix a problem with the temperature in the plane. We got there at 3:30 AM New York time.

It took another 1.5 hours to get to JFK. We were told we could get off if we wanted and that the fix would take 1 hour. Well, I tried, but there was such a pile up at the top of the ramps leading to the terminal that I went back to my seat. About 1 hour later we were told we all had to get off because we would be going to Amsterdam on a different plane. When we got into the terminal the digital signs said we were going to Amsterdam at 7:30 AM. Then in a bit the signs changed to 6:00.  We boarded again and I found it was the same plane, only now my in-flight entertainment center had been changed to Italian and there was a neck sleeping pillow in the seat that didn't belong to me.

I dropped off to sleep for a bit and then next thing I knew everyone was getting off again. I had missed the announcement and had a hard time figuring out what was happening. Well the parade of people let to Delta customer service, where we all stood in line for a very long time waiting to have our flights totally rebooked. There were 4 Delta staff to help and it took forever to deal with each party for rebooking. While standing in line I used my phone to cancel my hotel reservation in Amsterdam for it was very clear I wasn't going to be there by 6 pm Amsterdam time, since Central Europe is 6 hours ahead of New York and I still wasn't on a plane.

When it was my turn I was told, not offered, the 6:30 PM flight to Amsterdam. I slightly protested saying that would mean no sleep for nearly 48 hours. The staff person gave me two meal vouchers and arranged for me. I explained I'd never been in that airport before and didn't know where anything was. She arranged for me to be taken via wheelchair to a restaurant for breakfast. When eating breakfast a 1-800 number popped up on my phone. It was Delta calling to say they would be sending me a check for $100 for the inconvenience. I didn't think that was enough to cover the stress and inconvenience, but what can one do??

The nice  young man who escorted me asked when to return and I told him about in one hour. About thirty minutes later he came back asking if I indeed I wanted the other 30 minutes and I said yes.

My breakfast with coffee and tax came to a bit more than $17.00. The restaurant staff had called the number on the voucher and found it would only honor $15.00, so I had to pay the difference.

When the young man came back he took me to customer service where I got my boarding pass for 6:30 and then told me he had a surprise. He went and knocked on a door that had no signage, and I found myself in an area called Delta Sky Zone. The staff there asked if I wanted to watch a movie. I said no I'd like to read a bit and then fall to asleep. They made me a bed, and I did sleep until I heard what sound like an alarm. I thought I had by mistake left an alarm to ring on my phone for Wednesday, but when I looked at it, it was blank for alarms. Staff cell phone ringing I guess. I remained in that room until some children were escorted in and then figured out this must be the special place for children flying alone who need to transfer. The children were well behaved, but talkative.

I used the Delta app on my phone to track my luggage. Yes, it showed it loaded onto the 6:30 PM flight. Love the app service!!!

I took my boarding pass to the staff and asked them to tell me where I was and where was the gate for the flight. I yet had no idea of what terminal we were in and knew I had to be in terminal 4 for an international flight. Well, it turned out we were in Terminal 4 and the gate for the flight was just a short walk. Got some Snicker Bites to eat and sat there to read until it was finally time to board. While waiting I saw a whole parade of Delta flight attendants and wondered what was happening. Turns out they were posing for a picture. That is not something one sees every day.

Again we had an evening meal on the plane and again I had a whole row to myself. I did manage to sleep a couple hours on the flight. We landed in Amsterdam about 7:00. I stopped before at a bench before the passport line to get a dose of Ibuprofen to cover the walking at Schiphol airport. The passport line was a bit long but moved fast.

Then it was a long walk to the luggage belt used by Delta. Right out of passport control are luggage belts 1-8, 15-24 are a long way from there and Delta always used 16. Got my bag -- it's purple paisley so I don't have to inspect a number of black bags to know if I have the right one, and then enter the arrival area. It was now around 8:30 and I had a flight to Warsaw at 2:30 PM.

Found Starbucks and got a cappuccino. Then went to find a comfortable place to sit for awhile. The departure screens were only displaying info for flights through 12:30 PM. I was quite certain I needed to be at Departure Hall 1 since I have taken this flight to Warsaw so many times before. Finally thought I would try obtaining my boarding pass at one of the kiosks, and that worked, it popped out my boarding pass. Then I went up one level to check my bag.

Had a long time yet for the flight. Wandered by a restaurant called Het Palais. Looked like an interested menu so I went in and had a Toasti. This is rather like a grilled sandwich with cheese and ham along with catsup for dipping. Had a coffee along with this.

Then took the trip through security and the long walk to Gate D60. This is in an area called Airport Park. The seating there is comfortable and I was so scared I'd fall asleep that I did set an alarm on my phone. Here I am at Airport Park thinking I didn't too bad for someone with 4 hours of sleep in two days.

Took a walk to Gate D60 and found we couldn't enter it, door locked. Went back to the comfortable seating again for awhile. Went back to the area again and found a whole group of people seated on an escalator edge. I asked if they were going to Warsaw and when heard yes, decided to join them.

The magic boarding area has finally arrived. People with special status where let through, and the gate attendant invited a family with a small baby to board. Then appeared about 6 quite disabled men in wheelchairs along with their caretakers. Everyone was stopped from boarding while these people boarded, the disabled me were seated and their wheelchairs taken off the plane and stored in the cargo area.

We departed Amsterdam about 30 minutes late. The day brightened with the approach to Warsaw. The clouds lifted and I could see beautiful Poland below. Got my luggage without difficulty and then headed to the bankomat. They weren't there. Walked back to a cafe where I often go and asked, Gdzie bankomat. The staff pointed to a new location. Got some money for the day trip I was taking the next day, and then walked across the street to the hotel. Took my luggage, the big bag weighing 21K, because of special things I was asked to bring to Poland by the Global Volunteers office, to a hotel luggage cart, and then checked in.

Went downstairs again for a bite to eat.
Got the tomato soup and asked what ice cream was available. When chocolate chip was offered, I said yes, but much to my delight after this trip, it turned out to be chocolate, chocolate chip. Went up to my room and crashed out until 1:30 or so. Looked at my e-mail on my phone and found a new offer from Delta -- I will get a refund for the whole flight from MSP to Amsterdam, but I surely do hope I get mile credits for flying the route 1.5 times!!

Left a wake up call for 6 AM since I had to be ready for a day trip I had organized while thinking on Tuesday night I would have good sleep in Amsterdam and another good sleep on Wednesday night in Warsaw. Missed out a night there, but I did make it to breakfast, and had a great day trip. But that's a whole another story.

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