Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chaos…Total and utter chaos

-Note, this was the first post I wrote when I arrived in Oslo. I am working on setting up a new blog, but in the meantime enjoy this and the photos that I update soon on flickr.
Andrew...

Saturday August 12th, 1:09 AM (Oslo Time I think)

This would describe the past 24 hours in my excursion from Minneapolis to Oslo, Norway. Thursday morning, I awoke and quickly finished packing my carry on luggage as well as finishing up the checked luggage. I didn’t sleep very well the night before, having being drained physically and emotionally from the difficult task of saying goodbye to my Kwisten (who will be turning 21 as I am typing this!!!). I’ll admit it, I cried pretty hard when it came to the final goodbye.
As most of the world knows by now, 21 terrorists were caught by British Intelligence, and their plot of bringing liquids on airplanes for the use of liquid explosives was foiled. However, for everybody else this meant that there could be ABSOLUTY NO LIQUIDS OR GELLS of any kind brought on with carry-on luggage. This presented a hassle for many travelers who were forced to check those items. I had seen the report earlier in the day and was ready by having put those restricted items into my checked luggage.
My parents drove me to the Minneapolis Airport and saw me off at the gates, I got pretty emotional and cried because I didn’t know when I was going to talk to the two of them again. However, I was confident that everything with my existing itinerary of:
• Minneapolis to Detroit
• Detroit to Amsterdam
• Amsterdam to Oslo
…would go off without any trouble, I had followed all the rules and was more than on time.

Boy was I wrong.

For starters, the first flight Minneapolis to Detroit was delayed from 5:00 PM to 5:30 PM and then even later to 5:50 PM. After that, we all boarded the aircraft and were about to Taxi, when the captain announced over the PA that the plane needed maintenance and we would all have to exit the plane. On top of that, the weather decided it would thunderstorm with lightning to effectively close down the runways and keep baggage throwers from doing their jobs. However, at the same time Northwest and KLM had a flight from Minneapolis DIRECTLY to Amsterdam that left without a hiccup at 7:00 PM when I was stuck on the broken down plane. After the broken down plane, I still believing that I had to get to Detroit to catch my connection, which was at 9:20 PM, rushed over to the next available flight. Thinking that I was on and ready, I relaxed a little. However, I had forgotten that there is a time difference between Minnesota and Michigan and missed my connection by over an HOUR!!!! I nearly gave up in the Detroit Airport.

Being stuck in Detroit, I examined the options in front of me. Northwest and KLM offered me a hotel stay for the night with a flight to Amsterdam at 4:00 PM. The other option was to catch the flight from Detroit to London (big mistake, but more on that later) and then to figure out a way to Amsterdam and my final destination Oslo from there. Having a stigma against Detroit, and from a boost of confidence after a call to home to let the folks know I was ok, I hopped on the plane to London at 12:00 AM Friday August, 11th with the hope of catching a connecting flight to Prague and then Oslo later in the day getting me in at 3:30 PM.

The flight was long but enjoyable. I struck up some good conversations with the lady sitting next to me, who was taking her four cats from Detroit to their new home in the swinging UK just outside of Nottingham (yeah, the city in the Robin Hood Lore). Unlike me, she slept through almost the entire flight, while I watched Over the Hedge and Monsters Inc. on the on-demand video for entertainment. I tried to watch a serious movie but was far to tired, but was able to get some young British girls to say no the funky way that they do it as Frank has often joked about, I had to prove it for myself. I tried to catch some shuteye, but as usual had trouble falling and staying asleep on the plane. I believe we got into London at 12:20 PM, meaning I had missed my connection to Prague, which was scheduled at 12:05 PM, and so I began trying to find ways of getting to Amsterdam and eventually Oslo.

I rushed through Customs, and immediately went to NWA and KLM’s desk that were expecting me this time and informed me of a flight with British Airways from London to Amsterdam but that I would have to hurry and I would have to check my Backpack. Because of the incident Thursday, British authorities were not permitting any carry-on luggage of any kind except for wallets, key travel information, and passports. All other items were to be checked including carry-on bags themselves. This I didn’t have a problem with. What I did have a problem with was that they gave me the flight information at 2:20 Pm telling me that the plane would begin boarding at 3:30 PM and then leave as soon as possible. Not wanting to miss another flight, I ran as fast as I could and tried to bypass the cue by finding the nearest BA employee and asking if they could get me on the flight. Instead of booking me at getting me to the head of the line, they made me stand in line and when it was my turn they came and shouted flights to Amsterdam until they found me or I found them. Having checked my bag, I frantically located the gate and ran as fast as my legs could carry me to the gate.

Suffice to say I made it, but if this were the Amazing Race, the plane would have left without me :(
On the plane from London to Amsterdam I met four old ladies going to Amsterdam for a Holiday and coming back on Monday. I teased them that they were going to cause them nothing but trouble, and in turn they encouraged me to keep on trucking and to get to Oslo.
I arrived at the Amsterdam airport at about 6:20, and then immediately caught my connecting flight to Oslo, which I had arranged in London. When in London, I had to check my Backpack, however, the final destination was for Oslo with the backpack when it could have been Amsterdam. Being without my pack for those three hours made me feel very vulnerable due to the important things in my hands (travel information, boarding passes) and the valuables around my neck (passport, Kroner, Wallet).

I eventually made it all the way here (Yeah for Me) and met up with my program director Tim who met me at the airport after I called him from a pay phone using my debit card (maybe not such a good idea…). However, my checked luggage did not arrive with me or before me and instead will be here today in the Afternoon hopefully around 2-4 PM.
Having had the day I just had, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad staying the night in Detroit and catching the flight to Amsterdam. Then again, I wouldn’t have had the adventure of going from flight to flight like it was life or death and not having your travel pack. It was a thrill, but now I am tired and want to go to bed.

This is Andrew’s first post of many from the land of the Midnight Son Oslo Norway, I love you all and miss you very much.
Until next time,

Andrew

3 comments:

Kristen said...

After that adventure, I think you proved yourself able to handle The Amazing Race. Perhaps we should sign up?? :-D

Miss you sweetie...can't wait to talk to you. Perhaps when this crazy fair is over...

jean said...

YEah Drew! You made it!
The adventure begins!
Jean

Anonymous said...

I too had a harrowing experience while going from Bangalore to Minnieapolis via Paris and NY for the first time. From Bangalore to NY there was no problem. The trouble started in NY when I missed the connecting NW flight to MN while my colleagues made it.Moreover, my check in luggage too went in with them. I missed it because I was given a random check (SSSS on the boarding pass)and the guy took hours in doing it. Now in NY all alone with just my passport in hand, I asked a TSA what to be do. She said to go find a NW agent.

Find a NW agent! and that too in JFK..oh comeon thats not a easy task. I asked a guy under the huge question mark (information helpdesk) in Terminal 4 to find a NW agent and he paged and no one turned up. Then what do I do? there were no NW flights anymore till the next day. I went to Terminal 1 to find a Air France agent (AF gave the NW boarding pass and thats the main reason for this problem) after 2 hours of missing the flight. Luckily they didn't ask any questions and rebooked me on a flight next morning.

I slept in Terminal 4 not wanting to take risks in going out in NY as this was a new place for me and also first time.

Next morning saw me in a heated argument with the NW check-in agent. She said that the flight records showed me already boarded the previous evening's flight. How can that be possible when Iam just standing before her. She reluctantly saw the reality and gave me the boarding pass. Phew!! at last I flew to Minneapolis..