As those of you who travel frequently already know, when one travels, it often does not go perfectly according to plan, and sometimes things go way off plan. There are often snags along the way. While our last travel adventure was not the most stressful string of travel events ever, we did have our fair share of surprises. If you have not traveled very often but hope to do so soon, then you can learn ahead of time, so you are not caught off guard by the potential snags of travel. With this in mind, here are some of the “go with the flow” moments we experienced on our most recent trip to Europe.
Before we even got to our home airport, there was foreshadowing of flight issues to come. As I printed all of the documentation of ticket confirmations, reservations, etc., I noticed that the flights to New York going out and from Chicago on return had been changed from the flights we had booked, shortening the time available to transfer between flights.
Encouraged by the 4-hours-before-flight call indicating our flights were on time, we went to the airport – early at my encouragement because I always want a time safety net when possible. When the HH and I checked our baggage, we were informed that our flight was 2 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule. This was confusing since the flight would have been delayed at the time we received the call indicating it was on time. The short story is that we were then booked on an earlier flight to New York, only possible because we arrived to our departing airport 2 1/2 hours before our flight rather than 2 hours before. By this change, we could still make our flight on AirBerlin out of New York. The catch was that instead of flying directly into JFK, we had to fly into Laguardia, and then we would have 2 hours to transfer to JFK, check our baggage, go through security, and get to our gate.
Did we make it on time for our flight to Berlin. Yes, we made it, but only because of paying premium cab fare for transfer and extremely helpful personnel working for AirBerlin at JFK. The transfer bus between airports had a 45 minute wait just to get on the bus, and then it would be a 30 to 45 minute trip in rush-hour traffic, so our only choice was a cab. Our awesome cab driver got us to JFK in 30 minutes. My husband said that he did not believe the driver allowed anyone to pass him. Once at JFK, we found the line for security stretched almost to the entrance door. Our hearts sank. Luckily, the folks at AirBerlin got our boarding passes printed and our luggage checked quickly, and then they expedited us through security. Because of this one act of kindness, we made it to our departure gate with 5 minutes to spare before the first boarding call was heard.
The rest of our transfers between transportation centers, hotels, and sites we wanted to see were uneventful until the train ride from Dresden to Prague in the Czech Republic. I had spoken with a person in the Rail Europe U. S. office when ordering our passes and reservations prior to leaving the U. S.; I was assured that I had the correct ticket material needed for all travel. Before leaving Dresden, we went to a ticket counter for the German rail line to verify, and once again, I was told that we were good. Imagine my surprise not long after entering the Czech Republic, when the conductor came to check tickets again, to be informed that we were not “good” and would have to pay an additional 10 Euros per person for the travel by train in the Czech Republic. Luckily, we still had a little more than that in Euros with us because a credit card was not going to work. I was quite relieved when our trip from Prague to Munich did not face the same difficulty.
Listening to the advice of the U. S. Rail Europe customer service rep, I was talked out of buying reservations on the German trains that stayed within country as such reservations are suggested, not required. Had we not gone to the train station in Munich early on the Saturday we were leaving the city, we may not have been able to get on a train to Berlin at all. As it was, we could not take the direct, fast-speed train intended; all trains were full. Still, a helpful DB train agent found a way to get us there. We had to take a train to Nuremburg and then transfer (we had 9 minutes between trains) to another train going from Nuremburg to Berlin. Not having reservations, we had to hope to find seats that were unreserved. It all worked out fine, and we really enjoyed seeing a part of Germany that we otherwise would not have seen, but it was nerve-wrecking for a few moments.
Flying home, I knew the airline-made change in our scheduled connecting flight was going to make a successful, on-time transfer difficult, but American Airlines had a representative at our gate with boarding passes and a big, orange priority access pass. What was wrong with this? The AA rep gave another couple, also named Johnson and going to Nashville (on a different flight than ours), our tickets. Luckily, we found the couple who had our tickets and retrieved them. While waiting on the tram to take us to our departure terminal, the HH saw a couple looking at tickets with a very confused expression, and there was a big, orange folder in their hands , so he walked over to check it out. Yep, they had our tickets. Why did they not check the tickets earlier; why did the airline rep not verify first names and flight times? Who knows, but it worked out.
The final issue of this trip, which had more airport difficulties than normal, was the failure of American Airlines to get my luggage on our flight from Chicago to Nashville. While my husband and I checked our baggage after customs at the exact same time and more than an hour before our flight, his made it to Nashville with us, and mine did not. In fact, about 5 people on the same flight from Chicago failed to have their luggage arrive with them. Chicago had issues, but the luggage for all of us was put on the next flight to Nashville. My luggage was delivered to our home before 7:00 p.m. that evening, so there was no harm except the 45 minutes lost while jumping through the hoops to report the missing luggage, find it, and make arrangements for it to get to us later that day.
Traveling is fun and educational; I’m not going to give it up for things like this, but travel issues do happen. Granted, “going with the flow” is something at which I have to work; when I have a plan, I want things to go according to plan, but that is not real life. Sometimes all goes well. Sometimes there are issues; some issues are worse than others, but be ready to go with the flow and have back-up plans in mind just in case “life happens” during your travel. You can still have a great experience.
Have a blessed and happy day and happy travels!