**I decided to stop calling them their fake names because it is hard for me and everyone to keep track of. From now on little girl is Girl, the boy is Boy, the dad is The Father (I don't want to get them mixed up with my mom and dad) and the mom is The Mother.**
I booked my flight back to Zürich on New Year's Eve for two reasons: 1. because I've never really loved New Year's Eve and 2. because it was hundreds of dollars cheaper (Hey, I'm poor!) I thought, mistakenly, that no one would be traveling on NYE, because it's a big party day. Not the case though.
Let's do this hourly:
This was supposed to be my schedule:
6 am-7:30 am- Flight to Chicago
1:20-4:25 -Flight to JFK
5:25-7:10 am- Flight to Zürich
3:30 am- Wake up
4 am- Head to the airport (thanks for driving me dad!)
4:30 am- Arrive at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
4:33 am- Eyes bulge out of my head as I see the winding line to check in on American Airlines.
4:50 am- Begin to remind myself that I am supposed to check in a half hour before flights and at this rate I might not make it. But it's okay because there's a 7:45 am flight to Chicago. Weigh my bag, it only weights 42 lbs--so naturally I add 5 more lbs of stuff, to make it a feathery 47 pounds.
5:25 am- Check in to American
5:35 am- Give my bag to the luggage check people
6:17 am- Finally get through Security. Apparently a man a few people behind me collapsed (what happens when you lock your knees!) poor guy. Run like a bat out of hell to my gate. (Which was very difficult because I had to bring the bane of my existence, the Vera Bradley duffel bag. Stupid J.Crew sales! I know, I know, I do have too many clothes. But I love them all. Promise).
6:21 am- Arrive at gate, right as they are closing the door to the getway. Plead with airline employees to let me on. Refuse. They book me on the 7:45 flight so I feel better. Seventeen people missed out 6 am flight.
7:45 am-Leave for Chicago.
9 am- Land, get my luggage (which made the 6 am flight) and re-check-in for the 1:20 flight to JFK. Hang out, text Ellen, Caitling and Molly all afternoon. I heard a boarding call for an earlier flight to JFK but didn't think I should have the hassle to switch flights (foreshadowing for what a mistake that was).
12:15 pm- Announcement from American Airlines, all flights going in to JFK have been delayed. Ours is now leaving at 2:20 pm, arriving at 5:25 pm. Look at my boarding pass for my Zürich-bound flight. It takes off at 5:25 pm. Shoooot. Go up to the lady at the desk and overhear a woman saying she needs to get to Zürich. American Airlines lady says she'll book her on the 6:20 flight from JFK to London with an early morning flight to Zürich. She says to try and make the direct flight but if not, I'm book on the new one. Figure, there's nothing else I can do! And hey, a free trip to the UK!
2:20 pm- Flight is delayed a little bit more.
5:55 pm- Get off plane in New York. (Start thinking, what the heck was I thinking flying through Chicago AND JFK? Why didn't I just try to fly through LAX and make it really interesting!) Run like crazy to gate.
6:10 pm- Explain to bitchy-Carol (the AA worker) that the woman in Chicago didn't give me a boarding pass because she thought I might still make my direct flight. B.Carol says I have a seat reserved on the flight but she didn't exchange my ticket, and we don't have enough time to do that now. Woman from Chicago comes up and starts freaking out (I wonder if I'll ever be that high strung?). There are five of us, a Swiss-American family (her father was born and raised in Minnesota) and the high-strung woman (at least she gets stuff done) who are stuck. We have to go out through security to re-book our flights.
6:45 pm- Since I am the calmest (Just kept saying, "It's all going to work out.") they elected me the spokesperson. I go up to the lovely Suzanne and ask if we can be placed on the 9:30 flight to London, with a flight to Zürich following. (Because I was prepared and looked at the timetable to see when the next UK or Switzerland-bound flight was).
7:30 pm- Drinks and dinner with my 48 year old friend (the family had some hang-ups because apparently their son wasn't in the system. Dear American Airlines, I hate you.)
8:45 pm- The bartender let us take our beers "to go"--just getting ready for no open container laws in Europe again!
9:40 pm- Flight is delayed again. Woof. But start talking with my seat-mate (I like to chat) who is Nigerian (went to Northwestern and works in London now--so isn't some crazy person trying to blow up the plane. And he was very gracious when I offered him some Twizzlers, people with nice manners just can't be bad, right?) and I got to ask him if he felt he was being more discriminated about now after the Christmas attack attempt. Very interesting conversation!
10 pm- Give two rows ahead of me starts throwing up. Doesn't stop for the duration of the flight, poor girl.
11 pm- Reject the gross "meal" on the plane. But enjoy watching the T.V. in the seat in front of me. I hate when planes make you share T.V.s. Try to sleep.
10:30 am- Arrive in London. Go through the very efficient security there and head to our gate.
12:30 pm- Think I lose my boarding pass, frantic search commences.
12:37 pm- Find my boarding pass in the place where I put it so I could easily access it. (Don't you hate when you do that? Put something in a specific place for a specific reason and then totally forget where you put it?)
1:20 pm- Flight to Zürich.
3:50 pm- Arrive in Zürich! Wahoo!
3:51 pm- Turn on cell phone. (I am pathetic.) In Europe you have to enter a four-digit pass code when you turn your phone on. Did so, responded to some messages and then switcher the SIM card from my Swiss phone into my unlocked American phone (thank you Jack). Turned it on, entered the four-digit code. Rejected. Enter it again. Rejected. Enter it once more. Rejected. You can only enter it three times before you need a special 10-digit code. So I was cell phone-less. Which was annoying because the family offered to pick me up and now I had no way of contacting them. Dang.
4:15 pm- Heading up an escalator towards baggage claim when I recognize my friend Laiza behind me. Always nice to run into a familiar face (although I was with my new four traveling companions.)
4:17 pm- Luggage starts coming out. And out. And out. But no 47 pound navy blue monster to be seen. The bags of my haggard friends don't have theirs either. Perfect.
4:30 pm- Go to the luggage claims office and tell them our plight of flights. The guy with me kept saying, "Cool," or "Very cool." I wanted to say that that is the incorrect usage of the word "cool," but I kept it to myself. At least he was nice. They tell my friends that their luggage is still in New York but will be on the next flight here and will be delivered. They say, "Miss Carr, we can't seem to locate your luggage right now." (Try to keep my eyes from bugging out of my head.) Remain calm, give them my address and a very pleading look that I hope gave off the please-understand-I-got-a-lot-of-things-(on-sale)-at-home-and-I-really,-really-would-like-to-have-them-please. At least I didn't have to lug my suitcase onto the train though. (See a silver lining!) Bid farewell to my new friends and head home with Laiza.
Now I know the losing of luggage is supposed to make me realize that it is just "stuff" and I don't need so many clothes, but it didn't. Sorry. I promise to stop shopping (after putting my clothes away this evening I realized that I really do have a lot). But I swear, I need it all!
5:10 pm- Arrive in my town. And it is POURING down rain--such a pleasant welcome home. Opt out of the mile trek home (not because of the rain but because of the 100 pound, or so it seemed, Vera Bradley that was cutting into my bones at this point) and wait 25 minutes for the bus. Check my account balance (yes!) convert my leftover dollars (yes!) and wait for the bus.
5:50 pm- Arrive back to my house. Am locked out of the basement entrance. Try to remain calm. Go up and around. Locked out of front door (in Switzerland you have to use the keys to open the doors from the inside and if you leave a key on one side you cannot unlock it from the other). Ring bell. Girl started jumping for joy and jumping up into my arms. It was also her birthday so I quickly wrapped her gifts (High School Musical 3 soundtrack and some High School Musical microphone--which will just be painful for me really) and headed upstairs where company was coming over for a little birthday party. I had to be clever and quick though because I had already told my friend that I would go to Interlaken with her that night (so I had to be back on the train at 7:30--yikes).
6:30 pm- One of The Mother's friends was standing with us and she said in French, "Does she have a boyfriend." The Mother replied, "No, I don't think so." Her friend said, "Really? She's got such a beautiful face!" I then interjected, "Thank you very much." The friend was very taken aback and The Mother said, "Oh yeah, and she understands French too." The friend said, "Good thing I didn't say you were ugly!" After so many hours of travel I'm surprised that she didn't ask whether I was a serial killer zombie.
7:10 pm- Leave my house for the bus, train to Zürich and meet my friends. As I was leaving The Mother says, "It's good to have you back." I don't know whether it was my lack of sleep or the three glasses of champagne at the birthday party (oops) or that I was genuine, but I replied, "It is good to be back." Back in Switzerland at the very least!
8 pm- Hop on the train to Interlaken and have a fabulous weekend there. I'll save that for another post.
See it all worked out.
Oh, and I got my luggage back. Yes!