Okay, so my holiday is not off to the best start.
The airlines tell you to be to the airport ahead of time. They recommend one to two hours for domestic travel, 3 for international travel. I complied.
I had my friend take me to the airport at 2 pm for a 5 pm flight. Being the good friend that she is, she actually got me there at 1:30. I checked in, checked my luggage through to Naples, and then went in search of my gate. At 2 pm, I was at my gate, ready to fly. Terrorist actions interrupt American capitalism? HA! America is a superpower!
With 3 hours until take off, I amused myself by reading a little, watching a little, and struggling not to snooze at all. At 5 pm, right on time, off we flew for a 9-hour flight to London’s Heathrow Airport.
I arrived on time. I had 4 hours before my connecting flight to Munich.
A lot of mayhem can happen in four hours.
I never got a full story out of anyone, but it seems that the canceling of some earlier flights due to inclement weather lead to a domino effect right on down to me. I am sure it went beyond me, but who cares. It is all about me.
Arriving at 11:20am, I followed the signs from Terminal 3 to the Flight Connections Hub. No easy stroll was this! Nope! Walked about a mile, then caught a shuttle, then walked another ½ mile—where I ran into my first line. This line was set up to enforce London’s new baggage law: ONE bag per person. Not one bag and a purse, not one bag and a knapsack, not one bag and a plastic bag of souvenirs. Nope, ONE BAG meant ONE BAG. It also could not be larger than the smaller carry on bags that most airlines accept.
My dilemma now was to make my camera bag disappear into my laptop bag. I asked the person overseeing this operation how I was supposed to manage that miracle. So he told me. It appears to be okay that you can CARRY ON all the loose crap you want, but you can only carry on one bag.
I took my laptop out of my bag, stuffed my camera lenses in my coat pockets, hung my camera body by its strap around my neck, crammed my camera case inside my laptop bag, and carried my laptop in my arms.
Therefore, proving why England is NOT a superpower.
After making it through security without dropping anything or setting off any buzzers, my next adventure was…another line.
This line was to find out why my flight from Heathrow to Munich was missing from the departing flights board. 3 hours in that line, I find why. My flight, along with many others, had been cancelled. The agent ripped my boarding pass in half and told me that I would need to get to Terminal 2, where I could find Lufthansa’s ticketing counter. There, they would be able to reissue me a ticket for a new flight.
Me and about 3,000 other travelers!
I waited in line there for an hour and a half when they FINALLY made an announcement. Lufthansa was not booking any more travelers for any more flights that night. Their advice? “Go home and call Lufthansa direct” and have the sales people on the phone rebook my flight.
“Go home” was a long way for me, so I did the next best thing. I booked a room at a local hotel (for a king’s ransom I might add!) and called Lufthansa.
Oh but wait, the story does not end here! At the time I was supposed to be in the Holiday Inn in Naples, I was in London’s Crown Plaza trying to contact Lufthansa!
At first, Lufthansa could not help me. Their explanation was my flight was a mileage flight, therefore only United Airline could book my flight.
I call United Airlines London, wait 45 minutes on hold only to be told that because Lufthansa cancelled, only Lufthansa could book.
I found this to be unacceptable, and so told UA – London. For which the customer service representative with the Indian accent promptly hung up on me. Amazing as it sounds, by this time, I had still not lost my temper once.
I call Lufthansa back, he helps me, and I am booked on a flight out of London in the morning with the addition of connections in Cologne and Munich before reaching Naples.
I can now understand why Europeans take month long vacations!