Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(not) Getting there

Here's a story I started on Friday and never did get around to posting.
Friday dawned chilly but bright, and I had plenty of time to do those last minute things and make my way to the airport for my 11:20 flight to Paris, the first leg of my trip to Washington. I repacked my baggage to lighten my carry-on load. Fed the cats and petted them. Even cleaned up a bit.
I hate arriving at the last minute for a flight. Stuff always happens when I'm late. So it wasn't even 10 when I walked into our small regional airport and immediately remarked the unusual crowd of people massed in front of the ticketing desk. Normally, ticketing is a pretty dull job here.
On the board: 11:20 to Paris CDG: cancelled.
Not only is this particular flight cancelled, but it seems Paris is actually closed. The volcanic cloud over Iceland has made its way south and is perturbing air travel all over northern Europe. I would have known that if only I'd have a few minutes to watch the news last night.
Because this situation is an 'act of God', and not Air France's fault, they're not trying all that hard to reroute people through cities farther south. All the ticketing woman will offer me is a seat on Monday's flight. Monday? Gee thanks, get me there just in time for my meeting to end.
Or maybe Paris will open soon. Nobody knows. I can check back later. Call the toll-free number.
What, the famous number that the people in line with me have been describing as absolutely impossible to get through on?
Yes, that one. Or you could come back to the counter this afternoon. There won't be as many people then. Probably.
Come back. Hmm. 20€ for a taxi to get here, and I should spend as much to go back to town, burdened with all this luggage, and then a third time to come back, possibly for nothing. Afternoon is not so far away now. I have no plans other than to take a plane, so I'll just make myself at home here on this bench.
Which, along with the rest of the hall, is uncomfortably cold because there's a wall missing where they're doing some remodeling. It's like some conspiracy to make things as unappealing as possible. Just one more thing. Come on, pile it on!
The line gets momentarily shorter, then longer as people whom I saw ahead of me earlier come back for a second round. Before they're quite done, things fill up again as people arrive for the next wave of scheduled departures toward Paris. At one, it seems that nobody is getting anywhere. Paris is not opening, and neither is Amsterdam or London. I'd better take my ticket for Monday and keep track of things from home.
Time to lug all this luggage home again. I like to travel light. I really do. I don't need a whole lot of clothing. I expect to be able to do laundry. I don't need a lot of toiletry junk. So why does my luggage seem to weigh a ton? Well, take out the two boxes of chocolates, the kid's umbrella, the stuffed gecko, the large wool sweater (not quite finished), four pots of dipping chocolate, a miniature fondu apparatus, and it's not too bad.
Home again, the cats are happy to be let out. I set things down, have a rest, and go for a tour in the garden. Spring has come along so fast, now it's finally coming along, and I haven't been spending much time out here. Last Sunday I did plant the potatos that had been waiting in a sack in the basement, all sprouting and sad. They've not broken the surface of the dirt yet. Probably still getting their bearings, down there underground, finally, with dirt and earthworms and all. I watered them this morning before leaving. The row is still damp. The cats are rolling around in the dry dirt next to it. It's a nice day. By the time I get back from the States, the last of the daffodils, and the deep red tulips, and all the blossoms on the apples and cherries and plums, all that will be gone. It's nice to walk around without anything pressing to do, and appreciate it.
I spend a peaceful weekend. Saturday I go for the first long hike of the season, hauling my camera and a picnic. Sunday I tour the flea market attentively for the first time in months. I used to go every week, treasure hunting, but the offering doesn't turn over much from one week to the next and it got boring. This week it's been so long that even the rerun junk is new to me. In the afternoon I turn over the strip of garden that will be planted with sweet corn when I get back. Just to keep the weeds from getting too good a grip. Mow the lawn that's been leaping up fantastically. And just hang out.
Sunday morning the Air France website said I was good to go on Monday. I trek back to the lab to check again in the evening, and, well, "cancelled" appears pretty much everywhere. There's no way to talk to a person about alternative plans.
Monday morning I'm sure there's no way I'll be travelling that day, so I plan to borrow a friend's car to go out to the airport and talk to the ticketing agent. But. It's exactly the day you do that without your luggage in tow that they tell you, sure, we can route you through Madrid, leaving in 20 minutes. Oh, you're not ready to go? Well, too bad.
So I go prepared, and my friend picks me up later.
The agent remembers me, and spends many minutes looking through various options. If I'd known she was looking at Wednesday, I'd have told her to get me directly to Little Rock, or Charleston, or near there. Forget DC is it's not on Tuesday. If I'd known she was looking at Friday and Saturday, I'd have told her fuggedaboudit. I mean, Friday is a week late already, and I've only got two weeks to make the trip.
Well. There's nothing before Friday.
For a refund, you'll have to talk to your travel agent.
Oh, great. I know they won't be hot to fully refund the trip. My travel insurance covers me if I break a leg or am somehow unable to get myself to the flight. But not a flight cancelled by the will of God. How about we just reschedule for much later. I've got two weeks reserved in June-July, how's that?
Just fine, only you still have to go to Washington.
No problemo; I do still intend to meet Reya!
We'll see if that volcano is still erupting in June.


Ronda Laveen said...

Thanks for the update. The way this volcano is going, you still might not make your visit with Reya. I was looking forward to seeing your visit blogged.

Pauline said...

Bad luck, Nan. I'll add you to my list of a niece stranded in Egypt, a workmate stuck in Venice and a blogging friend trying to get from here to his home in Scotland.

It's an ill wind....

Tabor said...

What a pain. No one is at fault and everyone is losing in some way! I have plans for Western Canada in August...right now there are even some flights cancelled that way!