I'm Back - No Thanks To Delta and KLM
And by back I mean both in the country and back at it with blogging! Exciting, eh? Have you missed me?
Let me begin by saying I'm sorry for my lack of content over the last few weeks. I went on vacation and promised myself that I would be 100% present with Ethan and in Scotland while I was away. Then, when I returned state-side, Ethan I both caught a post-travel cold that knocked us both out for over a week. Ugh. But now that I've recovered, I can happily report that I have a whole list of exciting things coming your way, so buckle up.
I promised a lot of people that I'd report back after our trip with all the juicy details, but before I do, I have a story and a half for you.
Our vacation to Scotland was utterly unimaginable. I wouldn't have changed a single second of our time over on the British Isles for a second. That said, even the most wonderful experiences can't be totally perfect and ours is no different. I'm thankful that our only hiccups happened at the various airports we ended up in, rather than while we were actually out enjoying ourselves. This is the first of the two travel nightmare experiences that I’ll share about our Scotland IV getaway - so named because I have a habit of naming my vacations for hashtag purposes and it was my fourth visit to the country. The second story is coming soon, don’t worry.
So, to set the scene, our whole trip has concluded and we're sitting in the BEYOND LOVELY Hotel Indigo on Princes Street enjoying our full Scottish breakfast in their beautiful breakfast room overlooking the city.
Ethan finishes his food and grabs the keys to our rental car - the subject of my next travel nightmare story, just for a little head's up. We're parked in a parking structure a few blocks away and he's kindly offered to grab the car and bring it around while I’m finishing up my food. At this point, we aren't late, but we aren't on time, by any means, either. He's gone for what seems like an exceptionally long time, and I'm starting to get nervous that we might be pretty pinched for time to make our flight. Twenty, then thirty minutes go by and Ethan still hasn't returned with car. As it turns out, despite the fact that I informed my bank before I had left, they still flagged my card transactions as fraudulent and declined my card (a bit late to the party, if they were trying to keep my account safe, I might add) that he was using to pay and get out of the parking garage. Not to mention, he somehow lost track of where we had parked and wandered around for ages trying to find it. Once he finally arrived out front of the hotel, we booked it out of the city as fast as we could… with bumper-to-bumper morning traffic every step of the way. By the time we got to the rental car park, we were only 45 minutes away from missing our damn plane. Of course, negotiations with the rental car company took far, far more time than they should have - story to come, remember - and when our shuttle got us back to the main terminal at EDI, Ethan instructed me to leave him with the bags and for me to run ahead as fast as my short little legs could carry me and check us in.
We got to the airport and sure enough, our self-check-in kiosk told us we were too late to check in for our flight, but I was NOT having any of that. So, I found the closest ticketing agent I could find - an agent for Norwegian Air, who we weren't flying, but I thought I had to do something, plus they were strategically located (on my part) RIGHT BESIDE the closest KLM/Air France agent, hoping she would overhear me in my panic.
I told the gentleman that while I wasn't flying his airline, I needed help or I was going to miss my flight! The Air France woman heard my cry and ushered me to the front of a massive baggage drop-off cue, a massive no-no in British culture, I might add, where her colleague checked mine and Ethan's bags and printed our tickets in a mad dash. They even gave us permission to use the security fast lane, allowing us to go through all of security in under 10 minutes. For those that aren’t familiar with this, it’s probably because you aren’t a member of airline staff, which is who the line was intended for. We did feel pretty boss getting to slide right on past everyone, and it might have even been pretty enjoyable had we not been in such a hustle.
We got through to the other side, made the long trek through the airport and actually made it to our gate with only a few minutes to spare. Breathing a sigh of relief, we thought that was going to be the most stressful part of the journey and that we would land in Amsterdam for our connection, get on our long-haul flight and be home sometime that afternoon. *Spoiler-alert, we couldn't have been more wrong.
Once on the plane, we were informed of high winds in Amsterdam, which would prohibit us landing in safely, so we were grounded for 40+ minutes on the plane, just sitting at the gate. We knew our connection was short, but the cabin crew assured us before we took off and then just before we landed that, while rushed, we would have time to make our connection. What they failed to take into account was the fact that were sitting at the back of a very large and crowded plane. And without permission to disembark the plane first, which we weren't given, we wouldn't have time to walk the length of our terminal and half the length of another to get to our next plane.
We exited the plane, ran like hell again, and managed to miss our connection by LITERALLY ONLY MINUTES. So, sweaty, and exhausted, we were told to head over to the customer service desk, where they would get us on the next flight to Detroit, only an hour later. Needless to say, after a lot of complaining and chatter back and forth between us and the KLM agent, we didn't manage to wrangle ourselves a ticket until 4 hours later, with YET ANOTHER CONNECTION in Atlanta, GA. He and I have our theories about why this happened, but regardless, we had some time to kill and some frustration to walk off.
After hours of eating, strolling, and casually killing as much time as possible, we finally boarded THE LONGEST FLIGHT I have ever had the misfortune of taking. Somewhere around 10 miserably-claustrophobic hours later, we land in Atlanta - around 10:30PM or so, nearly 5 hours past when we were meant to have been in Detroit originally. Due to U.S. security regulations, we were asked to not only go through border control, but also collect and re-check our bags for our next flight. A hassle that proved to be even more of a hassle than we even knew possible, just a few minutes later.
Once at the Delta terminal where we were meant to go through security another time before going to our final gate, we tried to print our final boarding pass… tried being the operative word. The machine didn't have poor Ethan's name on the ticket and that's when we knew something really bad was about to happen.
We found yet another gate agent, told them what was happening and proceeded to wait with them on hold to KLM - their partner organization, mind you - for 40 minutes and literally watched the last call for our flight happen, the gates close, and our plane leave without us. We. Were. Pissed.
Come to find out, someone back in Amsterdam didn't properly book the final leg of our journey for us and we ended up missing the last flight to Detroit from Atlanta that day - leaving us stuck there for the night. Why they didn't just get us another ticket and let us go on our merry way, I'll never know. But they provided us a hotel and one of those small overnight kits for the both of us - because our luggage was checked on the plane, remember? We waited another 30 minutes for the hotel shuttle to pick us up and take us to the Hilton, where we would crack a beer and get a very short 4 hours of sleep, only to return back to the airport and do the whole thing all over again for our 7:30AM flight.
It was a long, long day. By the time we landed in Detroit at 9:30AM the next day, 16+ hours after we were originally meant to, we were knackered like never before. There were so many people to blame for this absolute travel nightmare, but I guess, in the end, at least we made it home and with all of our luggage still with us. That's more than I can say for some folks that we met at the airport who went on nearly this entire journey with us. Good luck to our German friends who are now touring the U.S. in a motor home, a few bags short of what they came with - not a great way to begin a holiday, that's for sure.
I say all this with as little ill will as possible. I fly Delta and have as often as possible for as long as I've been flying and still intend to, even after this. Stuff happens, we both know that. And I fly with the Sky Team specifically because these kinds of messes still happen far less - at least in my experience - with them, than they do their competitors. But do I think this whole mess from start to finish was properly handled? Hell no. That was one of the physically hardest days either of us have ever lived through and it was a really lousy way to end a nearly perfect trip. But, it sure made for a hilarious story to tell, so I guess if I have nothing else to thank our friends at KLM and Delta for, I have to thank them for that.