Finally in my hotel in Athens. After a long and hectic adventure, I sit here with MTV Greece in the background while I try to hash out the last 24 hours…
So I was supposed to arrive in Athens yesterday afternoon, on the flight that just about everyone in the program was scheduled to be on. 12:55 pm scheduled departure from Seatac, an hour layover in Amsterdam, then finally it arrived in Athens at about 1:30 pm local time. My parents had decided to take me out to a farewell meal at Shari’s at 10 am before the flight. Sounded good to me. Don’t get me wrong, my eggs benny was tasty, but not worth the headache that ensued.
If you know anything about me, you know I’m a planner. I don’t typically do things on a whim, and I hate being late, no matter what my excuse may be. There are exceptions, but my first transatlantic flight hardly fits that bill.
Anyway, somehow my parents and I lose track of time at Shari’s, but I’m not freaking out because I’m still an hour early to the airport. I figure I’ll kind of be rushed, but I can still make it. The lines weren’t bad, and I’m not exactly a novice jet-setter. I go to check in at Delta, and their computer doesn’t know who I am. Apparently 8239752983 other people were in the same boat, because their customer service line was enough to wrap around the Great Wall of China. An assistant approaches me, and as soon as I mention the word Amsterdam she says “Sir, you have missed your flight. We close all international flights an hour prior to departure. Stay in line so we can rebook you.” I didn’t even know how to react at first. Then like a wave, it hit me. I was pissed.
I called my dad, and told him what happened. My mom insists that they come back in to the airport, in spite of me going all passive aggressive on them and telling them to let me deal with it. My parents show up, still convinced I can make my flight to Amsterdam if I just leave my checked baggage behind for another plane to take. That might have worked, if I had thought of it right when I got in the door.
But I didn’t. So we wait in line and finally get to talk to someone. We’re ready to bust out a hefty chunk of change to rebook my ticket, when we’re suddenly passed on to a man with a shaved head whose red suit jacket stood out amongst a sea of navy blue clad assistants. His name tag identified him as Bruce P.
Bruce worked his magic and booked me a flight from Seatac to JFK, then a transfer at JFK to Athens… at no additional charge. The flight to JFK left Seattle at 6:35, which meant an early morning for me, but I didn’t care. I was happy to know that I was still leaving. Plus, I squeezed in a family visit AND a Dick’s burger during my additional time home. Win.
I show up to check in for my flight the next day, and there’s Bruce, waiting to escort me to the front of the Delta VIP security checkpoint. I literally bypassed hundreds of people waiting in the normal line, during what Bruce told me was the busiest time of day at Seatac. I arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare. One glance at my boarding passes, and I realized Bruce booked me aisle seats in exit rows for both flights. I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but I immediately went to the Delta Airlines website and typed up a comment card thanking him.
My flight to JFK was smooth. When I first sat down, the guy next to me started chatting, and he tells me he lost 100 lbs. I congratulate him, but he acknowledges that he still has a little bit more to go, and he has to ask for a seat belt extension. To his dismay, the flight attendant tells him that the FAA doesn’t allow anyone who needs a seat belt extension to be seated in an exit row. So I had an empty seat next to me for that flight. But that didn’t stop the lady in the window seat from talking to me. She was from Alaska, but currently split time between Seattle and NYC. A self-described libertarian with a degree in Architecture from UW and an MBA from Harvard… clearly there was good conversation to be had. I won’t bore you with details, but she gave me great ideas for my paper on the Greek economic crisis.
My flight to Athens was soooooo loooooong. 9.5 hours to be exact, and the melatonin I took didn’t help me sleep at all. I was too excited, so I watched movies instead. When I landed, I picked up my bag and got a cabby who didn’t speak a lick of English. He got me to the hotel, and I went up to my room expecting to see my roommate, but they had left for a tour of the Acropolis. As such, this post seemed like a great time killer. I promise to start writing about actual things I’ve done and places I’ve seen, this is just a story that I really don’t want to recount too many times–I’d rather block it out of my memory.