Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Need Luggage, Will Travel

So My Fair Lady tells me in January that she's looking into a study abroad program with her law school in conjunction with Tulane University. Since I most likely wasn't paying enough attention at the time, I said, "Sure, look into that and I hope you enjoy yourself." Almost involuntarily, that response. I don't recall feeling any change in my heartrate or breathing speed, so I've come to the conclusion that the wife triggered one of my five automated responses.

Flash forward a few months and My Fair Lady is stranded on an island two hours off the coast of Greece with no luggage, very slim provisions, and an increasingly hostile attitude. In hindsight, I probably need to remove the "shuffle" feature from my auto-response list.

Apparently the American Airlines flight into Gatwick Airport, London, went smoothly, as did the standard two hour lay-around-and-gripe-over that comes standard with international flights. The problem started with the Olympic Airways plane sitting on the tarmac for three hours waiting to take off. What I don't understand about airlines in general is why they won't let you de-plane in case something like this happens. If I'm sitting on a plane for three hours, it damn well better be some where else at the end of that time. If I'm still looking at the same airport after three hours and we haven't taken off at least once, then my head would a-splode. My Fair Lady, on the other hand, is about 1,000 times twitchier when it comes to planes. If there is even a hint of something out of the ordinary, she flips her lid. I can't imagine how much she was freaking out sitting on the tarmac. My condolences to the families of those sitting next to her.

As it turns out, three hours was not enough time to load an additional 20 bags onto a plane. Twenty bags missed this flight to Athens, and I'm impressed they were able to find the plane in the first place. It's not like it was flying around the skies above, or rolling around on the tarmac playing "catch me if you can" with the baggage handler. It was sitting stationary for three hours, yet 20 bags managed to miss it. I could understand if the target was a small hole in the ground and you only had three hours to find it.

But how is a 777 sitting in plain view of an airport with the name of the plane painted in large, bright colors on the side of it impossible to not see? And how do you misplace something like luggage which, by definition, is bulky, unwieldy, and usually found in a wide varity of bright colors with plenty of handles?

To insult to irony, the island's phone and internet connections tend to be spotty at best. My Fair Lady's 20 minute walk from the hotel took her to five different phones, only the fifth of which worked. Ergo, I get a panic-riddled phone call from the other side of the planet stressing out about no luggage and inordinately expensive prices on a tourist-driven island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Naturally, my anxiety was a little onthe high side.

I then contact American who says it's a Greek problem, and then contact the Greeks who hang up on me. Twice. So who do I find as the imtermediary?

The British.

A lovely woman named Jenni at Gatwick Airport was more than supportive in helping to track down My Fair Lady's bag, at which point she assisted in getting it on a plane to Athens. I follow-up with My Fair Lady and she is understandably ecstatic at the thought of fresh make-up. Flash-forward to this morning, i.e. my last communique, and Olympic Airlines in the wisdom were unaware of the additional luggage on the flight.

So here I sit with no follow-up from My Fair Lady other than being told the flight was slated to arrive this afternoon (around 4:30 p.m. Athens time) and that I would hear back from her within an hour. Being as that was several hours ago, my anxiety has returned with friends.

I'm now making a mental note to travel only with the 82nd Airborne from now on. Odds are they don't take any crap from snotty ticket agents sit on a tarmac for three hours, unless they're invading that particular airport. Which at this point, sounds like more fun than either My Fair Lady or I are having.

And here I was making a plan to enjoy my DVD collection/backlog tonight.

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