Countdown to Ireland, debacle #2: crying one’s way to business class

I realize countdowns start at high numbers and proceed downward, but I object to conformity so my countdown is a count-up! Logic is for squares.

As my cat crawls into my suitcase along with a few itchy sweaters, I continue to prep myself for my trip to the Emerald Isle by reliving a few of the horrific travel debacles I have gotten myself into.

Reflection #2: Missing flight due to user error but reaping undeserved benefits

I had just spent a ruckus semester abroad in Glasgow, Scotland and it was time to return to reality. I stayed up all night packing, stuffing the masses of souvenirs for family and friends, but mostly for myself, and prepared myself to say goodbye to a land I didn’t want to say farewell to just yet.

I grabbed a taxi at about 6am for my 7:30am flight.

Upon arrival at the airport, I attempted to locate my flight to London, and then London to home.  I checked the kiosks, looked at the screens, went to the counter of the airline I was flying, only to find it empty. “Hmmmmm,”I thought, “I must be early.”

I was early enough to watch my flight take off—without me.

I ran to find assistance. I found an airport worker who explained Scottishly, “That flight left at 6:30.”

I was incredulous. I pointed at my ticket. I pointed to the time.

The airport employee noted that the number I interpreted as my flight departure time, was my flight number. Rookie mistake.

So I did what any girl in my situation would do, started sobbing uncontrollably. In fact, it was so bad, that when I went to the customer service desk begging for help, to get rid of me after my 30 minutes of babbling and bubbling, the attendant booked me on a British Airways flight (not even the airline I was originally flying) in business class—at no charge.

Sometimes it pays to be a wacky, overly emotional, crazy girl. (I know, readers, you are thinking, “not our Gingermermaid, she’s not crazy but-at-all!”)

The story isn’t over yet. I hadn’t even realized I was in a premium class, I didn’t note this till I arrived at Heathrow and was taken to my seat, which also just barely happened.

I arrived at Heathrow, which is a behemoth of an airport (I have more, unrelated travel debacle stories here too. I digress.) I boarded a bus to change terminals, asked the helpful airport employees where I was to go, and got to the right place only slightly haggard.

I neglected to mention that I had been carrying two big suitcases and a huge stuffed sheep most of the time. The stuffed sheep was for my yet-to-be-born niece, Ruby, and also served as a mop for my tears. I got to check the bags, but the sheep and I stayed together.

I was hanging out in Heathrow, walking about the terminal with my Scottish sheep friend, when I heard that it was time to board the air-o-plane. I queued up (that’s what the Brits say, queue, they are so weird) only to realize I had no ticket.

Yes, my ticket was lost somewhere in Heathrow. In 2005, when this happened, there were no mobile apps on phones and no special scanners, computer-ee things to check that you were indeed a passenger;  physical tickets were fairly important. With the final calls to board and me and the sheep in a tizzy, I approached customer service, in tears. Fortunately, a good Samaritan had turned it in! Bless!

As the last person to approach the gate, the attendant took my ticket, looked at my sheep, and asked, “Does that sheep have a passport?”

I almost broke down in tears—again. I was so tired and distraught that I thought he was serious.

He laughed, reassured me I was good to board, sans sheep passport, and that I was in business class and would have a very comfortable flight. I didn’t understand what he meant until I got to my seat.

Holy cow bells. Best. Flight. Ever. I didn’t relish the extras, like wine, gourmet food, and so many options of entertainment it was like an arcade, as my seat reclined into a cocoon of comfort and I slept a straight 8 hours, the duration of the flight.

In a way, it was a waste.

At the end of the trip, I arrived at the Philadelphia airport but the debacle wasn’t over yet. They lost my luggage.


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