Hi, everybody! I returned to my native soil last night after an arduous, circuitous flight home from Zurich. I left my brother's abode at approximately 7AM on December 6th. I arrived in the Zurich Flughafen after a short train ride, and checked in with no fanfare.
My problems began when I was sitting in the plane on the tarmac- due to weather conditions in Berlin, the flight was delayed for almost an hour. This was enough to cause me to miss my connecting flight to JFK by twenty-two minutes. Berlin being gripped in a heavy snowfall, a number of flights were cancelled or delayed... a delay would have been a boon to me! I had to wait in line for two hours before I spoke to an Airberlin customer service rep. He took one look at my itinerary and said, "I see your plane landed twenty-two minutes after boarding ceased. That's not nice!" While he offered me a hotel stay in Berlin, I was adamant about needing to get my ass to New York. He was able to put me on a British Airways flight to Heathrow, where I would transfer to an American Airlines flight to JFK. I feel bad about not getting the customer service rep's name, he really went out of his way to unfuck a clusterfuck. If any Airberlin public relations or marketing reps ever read this, give the tall slender guy with the medium-short dark hair who works in the Berlin airport a raise- he was really great about handling this difficult situation.
My scheduled arrival at JFK would be shifted from a nice 3PM to a less felicitous 11PM. Gahhh!!! A nice young fellow from Vienna was in the exact same situation as I was in, so we immediately clicked as fellow "Airberlin orphans".
When I got to Heathrow, I was singled out for extra security scrutiny, probably due to my bizarre itinerary. I bombarded the poor security agent who had to take my information with an extremely detailed account of my travel travails. "The flight to Heathrow was solely due to the efforts of Airberlin's agent in the Berlin airport. My intended itinerary was much simpler." I also received a patdown from a security agent who made me look like a junior petite. Everyone was very polite, and I have to say that this scrutiny was much preferable to ending up as a smear somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. Yeah, I'm not complaining.
The flight from Heathrow to JFK was in an oddly empty plane. I was offered a change of seat, but declined, because my fellow "Airberlin orphan" ended up in the same row, and we both hit it off with a young woman who was returning to New York from a conference in London. There's nothing like adversity to give you a sense of camaraderie.
The plane touched down at JFK at about 11PM, so I was able to breeze through immigration and customs. My Austrian friend got a grilling like I had at Heathrow, due to the complicated itinerary that eventually landed him in JFK. Needless to say, our luggage did not arrive with us, so we had to head over to the luggage office. Again, I have to comment that the baggage agent, a young woman, was extremely pleasant and professional. While I typically don't travel with anything I would miss, my phone charger and a really nice bottle of grappa are in that bag, which should be shipped to my house.
Getting home from JFK to the City of Y______ was time-consuming but easy- the JFK Airtrain takes one to the "E" train, which unfortunately doesn't run express at the time I was traveling. I had to transfer to the uptown "4" train to the Bronx. When I disembarked from the train, I did something I almost never do- I **gasp** took a cab home from the Woodlawn station. As anyone who knows me well will attest, this is a "less than once a year" occurrence. I finally got home at about a quarter to two in the morning. Oof!
So... that's my Odyssey, tales of Bald Ulysses indeed! Hey, that reminds me of the one Cream song that I consistently enjoy:
I figure I'll be writing posts about my vacation over the coming week. I didn't anticipate that the flight home would be enough fodder for a post.
UPDATE: All things considered, having read the news, I have to say that I am one lucky bastard.