My Life as a Traveler

Halloween at the Airport

Well, the gremlins are out and about in Belgium today! It’s Halloween and we are heading home. It’s a very spooky day to travel.

First, last night, George went down to the lobby to print our boarding passes for today’s flight while I packed. I flip through the television channels, first looking for something in English that’s not the news. All we’ve seen the last couple of days is the story of the discovery of several explosive devices on some cargo planes headed from Yemen to Philadelphia and Chicago. I wonder, but don’t really know, if or how that will affect our travels. On the telly, I find Scary Movie, the one that makes fun of the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds and Saw. George comes up after being gone almost an hour with only partially printed passes, frustrated. We’ll get some at the airport this morning.

We get up at 6am (really 7am, since we turned the clocks back last night for daylight savings time) and make it to up to breakfast just as the lounge is opening. Our cab driver sped us to the airport in a record 20 minutes. We check in, get through immigration, but when we get to security, the line is insanely long and we walk halfway down the terminal before we find the end. It takes us over half an hour to get through. Haven’t seen a line this long in ages.

When we get to the gate, they say there’s a delay. The monitor says the flight is via Bangor (Maine?) but I’m thinking it must be going to Bangor after landing in Philly. It’s a nonstop flight from Brussels, after all.

But the delay increases. We wait 15 minutes, then another 15 minutes. Gate agents are going up and down the ramp to the plane. Uh-oh, what’s going on? As it turns out, when the explosive devices were found on those cargo planes heading to the US a couple of days ago, a bunch of cargo flights were canceled for a couple of days. However, there is still cargo that must be transported, and it looks like some of it is going on our plane. In fact, there is the rumor that people will be bumped because they want to put 50 additional boxes on the plane.

That’s the reason for Bangor. We are trading fuel weight for cargo weight and have to stop for gas between Brussels and Philly. The last time I was on a transatlantic flight that stopped for gas, it was 1978 from Moscow to Los Angeles.

Finally, we board the plane, about an hour and a half late. We settle in our seats. But wait, the flight attendants are calling for a doctor – there’s a medical emergency in the back. Somebody is having an epileptic seizure and they have to stabilize him until the airport EMTs arrive from the other side of the airport. They bring the guy to the front, the EMTs come, he goes out on a stretcher. Time to go? No! They also have to open up the cargo and find the guy’s luggage. I can see them from my window. After removing several bags belonging to everyone else, they find the right bags. All of this takes another hour.  But then we get on our way.

The best way to battle jet lag is to get a couple hours of sleep after lunch. Eventually, we reach Bangor, and it looks Pacific Northwest green without the high mountains. I’d like to go there someday!

We arrive in Philadelphia four hours late, but are able to catch a flight that gets us home at 9pm, only 3 hours late.

We arrived home safe from all of the gremlins of the day!

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