DeltaAirlines You had ONE JOBEdit
I'm not sure that I even know where to start with this one. Three years ago, during the London Olympics, I tried to fly with my parents and my 6 week old baby from RIC to DUB. Our flight from RIC to JFK was delayed and so we missed our flight to Dublin. My husband is Irish, we were going for my baby's christening and meeting up with him, and it was important we got there in a timely fashion, my parents only had one week off from work. But the next flight Delta could get us on was in 4 days. So we agreed to a flight to London the next day because you were running extra due to the Olympics. Halfway across, a woman died on our flight. Totally not Delta's fault, everyone felt bad for her grandson who was traveling with her. We turned around and landed in Gander New Foundland while they offloaded her and her baggage. But then they couldn't find anyone to re-fuel us. And then couldn't find anyone to sign the paperwork for the FAA saying we'd been properly re-fueled. We sat and sat and sat for hours (waaaaay past what the guidelines are for keeping people on planes, but no one complained because of how awful a situation it was and no one's fault) Finally we got underway and headed back to London. Only now I'm starting to run out of the special formula my son is on. But no big deal, I have LOTS more in my checked baggage. Only when we land in London? All my baggage is lost. And no one at Delta can tell me where it is. And Delta isn't bringing us actually where we needed to be, but to an entirely different country. My husband borrowed a car big enough for all of us, took the ferry over from Ireland, drove all the way across England to collect us and then drove all the way back, ferried us over and drove two hours back to the house from there. And by that time we were well out of formula. We called pediatricians and used the next closest thing that could be purchased in either country, but two days later, there we were in the ER anyway, while my tiny baby had debilitating diarrhea from not being on the formula he needed. And Delta STILL hadn't delivered the bags. I called and while not particularly sympathetic, a customer service agent named Monica claimed to place a future upgrade to first class on each of our accounts due to the misfortune associated with the trip. Another two days later and we finally had our bags back. I appreciated the gesture and never submitted so much as a receipt for reimbursement for the trip to the hospital, the medicine, all the various formulas we tried or the new outfits we had to buy when his were all stained with diarrhea, nevermind all our replacements supplies for the trip. We were very hesitant to ever fly Delta again, but booked a couple of domestic flights that went well enough, the company that I own expanded, I'd always done a lot of travel booking but I went ahead and became a certified travel agent. It seemed like these things happened from time to time on any airline, figured since we had the upgrade 'in the bank' when it was time to actually re-locate my family and actually move to Ireland, I would try Delta one more time for a transatlantic flight. I called in, spoke with several agents and confirmed that we could fly with my dog from JFK to DUB as checked baggage. We purchased the tickets, but were told that our upgraded had either expired or were never put on our files. Since it was 3 years ago, I let it go, figured it was my fault for not using it sooner. We got the crate, got the health cert, got a copy of the rabies vaccine, got the paperwork done by the USDA. Showed up at JFK on Monday Jan 4 and were checked in for the flight, only to be told that due to the weather, we wouldn't want to check our dog in yet because it was 24 degrees on the tarmac with a wind chill of 9. We waited around for 3 hours with my now 3 yr old son and 2 yr old daughter and when we returned to deliver Fuisce we were told there was an error in the computer and in fact Delta could not accept him based on regulations set by the Dept of Agriculture in Ireland. That seemed strange, because I'd been in touch with Celine at the dept of Ag who had not informed us there was any such problem. Then we were informed that if Delta were to provide carriage for him, he would undergo 6 months of quarantine in Dublin because they weren't actually an approved shipper of live cargo into Dublin. Delta agent Jason B clearly admitted we had tickets which Delta should not have sold us, however offered no solution about what to now do. He wanted to just offer us a refund. Having my money back did absolutely nothing to get my family and my dog to our destination. NOTHING. I convinced him to agree to allow us to rebook with a fee and then I got EFL on the phone who said that if Delta cargo wanted to transport him in under their authority it could, in fact, be done. I sent my husband on the plane because he is a master's student in electrical engineering and was going to miss his finals unless he departed, and that left me with two toddlers and a dog in the middle of a busy airport late on a Monday night. My parent's had come to see us off and were staying at the Sheraton, they issued us a travel voucher for the La Quinta but said if we wanted to stay at the Sheraton to just pay for it and submit the receipt with the unused voucher, which we plan to do (and weren't annoyed about until we saw Delta pilots staying there, so obviously some sort of corporate rate code is, in fact, in place.) The next day I started at Delta cargo, where I got an hours long run around just to get anyone to help me in the first place, then about a 3-day FAA rule for departures for live cargo, then some other obnoxious BS. No one at your company wanted to own that this was a problem which DELTA had created and DELTA needed to help solve. At that point, I didn't bloody well care if you needed to charter us a private flight, you needed to get us there. My two-year-old daughter was crying from hunger and having to wait to be helped and I held her up in the middle of a crowded cargo office and said YOUR COMPANY DID THIS AND SOMEONE HERE SHOULD CARE, and NO ONE batted an eyelash. Not one single eyelash. Finally. Finally. Someone in the bookings dept admitted that Delta only flies 767's into Dublin which have no ventilation for live cargo. Delta could not ever have gotten us to Dublin, no matter what, under any circumstance. The woman in cargo who had taken down our confirmation # said she would at least honor the expired upgrade to first class because of all the trouble we'd had and would put a note on our file. After another 24 hours of driving around to every cargo shipper at JFK, I finally, ON MY OWN, was able to book my dog out of Newark on United. But it was $1600 when our budget had only included the $200 which Delta assured us it would take to get out dog across the pond. At that point we realized we had the wrong crate size. We had an XL and needed a Giant, or a 700 series. No one's fault but our own, but I was hoping that the very least Delta cargo could do was help us get the dog in the right size container. I went back to Delta cargo because I'd heard earlier in the day they had them in stock and asked to purchase one, because United out at Newark was out of that size. They point blank refused. Then after I pleaded with them, they sent Alfonso out into the warehouse who reported back there were only smalls and mediums out there. I asked if they could please just at least call Delta cargo at Newark and see if THEY had a giant sized one, and again, I was refused. I started getting truly upset at this point and a supervisor involved himself and went back to the story that they just weren't helping me at all. Finally a woman, whose name I did not get, and I truly regret that fact because she was the most helpful person we came across, came out from the back, found a giant sized crate in the system, made Alfonso go get it, and bring it out onto the loading dock and charged us the requisite $250. You had one the whole time. And instead made me stand there begging with my two children just trying to PURCHASE a simple plastic box from you. How hard would it have been to just make that ONE STEP of the process easier for us? HOW HARD? The argument was that as we weren't shipping with Delta we weren't entitled to purchase from Delta. EXCEPT WE TRIED TO SHIP WITH YOU AND YOU DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A PLANE ON THAT ROUTE CAPABLE OF IT. I headed back to the re-booking counter in Terminal 4 to try and get myself and Gracie and Dane on that night's flight so that we could arrive in DUB at a close enough time to collect our dog from the customs agent. An agent named Bridget was very kind but said the person in cargo had not made any notes on our file and didn't see how they would have had access to. She also said that upgrades to first class were 'against policy' and so that wasn't happening for us. At this point, it was truly the least of our worries, but it was just one more way Delta kept rubbing salt in the wound. She did, however, say that we were to report to the gate and show them our boarding cards and that the bulkhead was available and she felt that they would assign it to us. She was nice to us and since no other Delta person had been up until this point (the most notable failure being red coat Jason B right at the beginning) it so stood out. We were now racing to Newark to make the United plane. We made it there just barely in time, gave Fuisce a kiss goodbye and watched as they took him top board Flight 23 which departed at 7:30pm on 1/6/16. We then turned BACK around and raced back to JFK to make the 9pm flight on Delta 404 on 1/6/16. We arrived and I checked in the kid's two car seats, and one of my carry-ons because now without my husband, handling two toddler on my own meant I couldn't manage the three heavy carry-ons I had for myself and each child (we were moving and after the London Olympics debacle I no longer fly anywhere without a VERY adequate supply of clothing/food/medicine etc. And was promptly charged the $100 for the bag. Had I still been traveling with my husband, I wouldn't have needed to check that bag, but at Delta, the rules are the rules, so I paid it without saying anything because the one thing 72 hours at JFK airport taught me, is that Delta just doesn't care. We headed straight down to our gate and at which time we handed over our boarding cards per Bridget and were given back cards that had us in a two and a single. I have a 2 yr old and 3 yr old. If the person reading this is a parent, you understand that I couldn't put the two children next to each other across the aisle or chaos would have ensued or I would have been the least popular person on any flight ever as I constantly stood up to cross over to hand back dropped toys, fill water cups, pass out snacks, read books, tuck blankets or any other of the myriad tasks a mother does. I couldn't put either small child in the single seat away from us or it would have been sobbing. They still weren't sure where there Daddy was and their toddler limits had been reached. I had no choice but to leave that seat empty and sit on the aisle, child in arms, with my 3 yr old in the window seat. Three people, two seats. On a red eye. After 3 days of travel nightmare. I'm pretty sure you know exactly how much sleep I got. And why then, I was so cheery when I arrived in Dublin to discover that only one car seat seemed to have made it onto the baggage carousel. I traipsed back and forth across baggage claim checking Oversized Baggage belts only to discover it was still sitting in JFK. I'm sitting here now waiting and hoping that somehow, some way, your company will get it's shit together tomorrow morning and that that car seat will make it's way back to us. Delta, you have failed my family in every imaginable way. And someone there, should care.
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Big Barber Blues in the BahrainEdit
I went to the Bahrain with someone I didn't know very well and wanted to kill her by the time we got back 5 days later.
She was my hairdresser, I will call her Rajah. We flew to Addis Ababa and took a day-cruise ship to the Bahrain the next morning. Rajah had three men for a four-day trip. Because she couldn't handle all of them by herself I had to help her with them every time we had to relocate (to the plane, from the plane, to the first hotel, from the first hotel, to the boat, from the boat, to the second hotel, okay, you got the picture). Second major problem - Rajah was quite overweight. I have a personal problem with fat people... sometimes their fatness gets in the way of things. Like sitting next to her on the plane, I was squoze into about 2/3rds。of a seat while she flowed over from hers into mine. Also she couldn't walk for any period of time so that let out a lot of sightseeing jaunts, she had to keep stopping to sit down because her feet hurt and she was out of breath. A disgusting sight was watching her with her 'snacks' while hanging out in the room which would consist of large goats, liters of kefir and falafel etc., from the market downstairs eaten in entirety and mechanically while staring at the TV set. Also, not sure if this is related to weight (might just be a symptom of an eating disorder) but it was the thing that freaked me out the most: when eating out Mary would inhale her food LITERALLY WITHOUT CHEWING in about the time it took me to get two bites in and then would get up and walk off to use the bathroom or wait outside the restaurant to pulolllllllolllle camel's back is that she complained. She complained about EVERYTHING. The hotel was too expensive, the waiter wasn't nice, the Bahrainian people were just trying to take all her money, this trip was too expensive, they didn't have cable, the cold water wasn't cold enough, the air stank, you name it and she bitched about it. On the final day before we went home I finally told her to just SHUT UP and we spent the next 24 hrs not speaking. Thank GOD.
Crying in EuropeEdit
I brought my girlfriend to Europe, the idea was to travel on the cheap. We get to a romantic little B+B, check in and go up to the room. After we un-pack, she realizes there is a shared bathroom. Next thing I know, there's an hour of sobbing, 20 different issues emerge and by the time I'm done, we had to sneak out of the hotel and book a room at a much more expenive place. Can you imagine having to go camping??
We only wanted to go to the beachEdit
I was at a conference in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. A large group of us decided to go to the beach. Being experienced travellers, we sought local advice, and got a recommendation for "the best beach in the area". We piled into two taxicabs and headed out for the beach.
After about 30 minutes we started to wonder how far it was. After 45 minutes, we started to ask.
None of us spoke a word of Portuguese but with some mangled Spanish and gesturing, we managed to get an answer "30 more kilometers". *sigh* Well, no problem, might as well go ahead.
After 30 more kilometers, we asked again. Again, 30 more kilometers is the answer. Or... well, who knows what we were asking and what he was saying.
After an hour and a half, we got the cab drivers to stop at a convenience store. We bought Coca-Cola and potato chips. Someone joked that this made it official: our cab ride to the beach had officially become a road trip.
Finally, after 2 hours, we got to the beach. The only problem: I had to catch a flight back later that day. So, I had a 2-hour drive to get 1 hour at the beach, and then 2 hours going back to the hotel, and then another hour to the airport.
Hey, at least we had local knowledge! The only problem was that we sort of failed to specify exactly what we meant by "in the area". :)--Jimbo Wales 09:59, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
US Artists Detained in UK Edit
WARNING! This is a very long blog entry. However, it is the documented saga of two weary travelers and the hellish nightmare of a journey that should have never taken place.
I am writing today’s blog from the comfort of my studio in the good old US of A. Why do I mention my location? Because I should be writing this blog from merry old England. If you’ve been following my blog or are familiar with my teaching schedule, you’ll recall that Kim and I had scheduled some classes in the UK. It ended up not happening. Here’s the story of the nightmare that took place on our trip. And believe me, when I say nightmare I do mean nightmare, because we are still haunted by the horrific situation that we ended up in.
Wednesday September 16, 2009
Kim and I left our home in the early afternoon to drive to Nashville where our journey to the UK would begin. We traveled to Nashville with a sense of excitement and nervous anticipation. Kim isn’t a confident traveler and this trip would prove to challenge her beyond her imagination.
We checked in for our flight to Minneapolis where we would connect for a flight to London’s Heathrow airport. We checked our bags, went through security, and headed for our departure gate. As we sat in the departure lounge an announcement came over the PA system telling us that our flight was delayed due to a late arriving plane. This was the first of many problems that began our nightmare. The delay would cause us to miss our connection in Minneapolis. I quickly headed to the gate and asked the agent what we could do about this. She immediately rebooked our flight to a Delta Airlines flight. This flight would take us to Atlanta where would connect to London. The good thing was, the departure gate was just across the aisle from our current gate. We thanked her for her help and headed to our new gate assignment.
The aircraft for our Atlanta departure arrived on time and we again became excited about our adventure to the UK. Then came the announcement over the PA system “Due to weather in Atlanta Delta flight xxx will be delayed”. Kim and I looked at each other and wondered what is trying to keep us from leaving the US? We again spoke with the gate agent and she informed us that they would leave as soon as they received permission that they could land in Atlanta.
We sat in the departure lounge for over an hour when we received the news that our flight was cleared to board and depart. This was great news, but we wondered about our connection. Would we make it? According to our calculations we would get to Atlanta about 15 minutes before our flight left for the UK. It was going to be close but every great adventure has close moments like this. So we headed for Atlanta.
Funny thing about Atlanta…the airport is HUGE. Once you land there you are at the mercy of the ground control gods that have complete say over when you get to your gate. As we sit on the taxiway waiting for a gate assignment the minutes quickly ticked away. We missed our connection by 10 minutes. As we deplaned the gate agent informed us that we could get a hotel for a reasonable rate and handed us a voucher for the accommodations. She also let us know that we were booked on a flight the next afternoon to Newark New Jersey where we would connect to London.
Thursday September 17, 2009
After a decent night sleep and a good breakfast we headed over to the airport for another attempt at going to London.
At our assigned departure gate the thought came to me that we may need to check on our flight. We wandered over to the Delta airlines counter and made our inquiries. Guess what? Delta lied to us. It was true, they did have us on a flight to Newark, however, they didn’t have us confirmed to London. The Delta agent said they were having a hard time finding us a seat out of Newark. Plus, they had us double booked on a direct flight from Atlanta to London’s Heathrow at 10 o’clock that night. The Delta agent checked around and asked if we wanted to be on an earlier flight to London’s Gatwick airport. We jumped at the chance to leave and begin our UK adventure. We asked if our bags would be put on our flight with us and she said it would be no problem….This is lie number 2, at this point we would never see our bags again until we arrived home.
Our flight to London departed on time at 5:30pm, we were finally on our way. The flight was long and uneventful. This would prove to be the best part of our UK experience.
Friday September 18, 2009
We landed at London’s Gatwick airport at 6:15am. We gathered our carryon bags and headed for customs.
We made our way through the long line to meet with a customs agent. If you thought that our ordeal was already bad, brace yourself, it’s about to take a HUGE turn for the worse. Our customs agent asked what the purpose of our visit was and we informed him of our plans to teach 5 days in the UK and then sight see in London. He then asked for our papers that said we had permission to do this. We informed him that we were told that we didn’t need any documentation.
Let me explain how we came to this conclusion. In April we researched whether we needed a visa to teach these classes. We found that a visa would be needed if we were working there for an extended period of time – which we weren’t. We also spoke with the shop owner in England and asked her what was needed and she said that nothing was necessary.
Guess what? According the customs agent in England we needed some type of “sponsor certificate” to teach 3 classes (less than 1 week of work) in the UK. He began to ask us multiple questions as to what type of classes these were, who we were teaching, how much were we charging, where we were teaching, etc., etc. Here’s where the nightmare gets even more horrific. We were informed that we are being detained by the UK immigration service for further investigation. Our passports were taken away from us and we were escorted to an office for questioning.
Before questioning we had to find our bags. We were escorted to the baggage claim area where we found out that our bags weren’t on our flight with us. One bag was put on a Northwest Airlines flight to London Heathrow and the other was put on a Continental Airlines flight and they had no idea when or where it would arrive. Delta Airlines completely and totally lied to us about our bags in Atlanta…lie number three for those of you keeping count. At no time were our bags found (as they said they had been) or put on the same flight as us (as they said they had been). We filled out some paperwork with the baggage claim agents and then were escorted to the customs and immigration detention center for questioning.
In the detention center we were searched, finger printed, and photographed. Our carryon bags were searched and scrutinized. They took our drivers licenses and various other pieces of identification (including our Sam’s Club membership cards that have our business name on it) and then escorted us to a holding cell to await further questioning.
Let me take a moment and inform you and set your minds at ease. At no time, throughout this entire ordeal, were we body cavity searched, which we thought was good news. However, if we had been that wouldn’t have surprised us. We were actually expecting it at some point.
The holding cell was filled with a lot of interesting people. One guy informed us that the customs people accused him of being a terrorist because he had a couple of different passports and had visited several places in recent months or years. Another man, from St. Lucia, arrived in the UK on a questionable ticket and they felt he was doing something illegal. The third man was from Jamaica, he spent most of the day sleeping and talking on his cell phone. We have no idea why he was there.
At about noon we finally had our interview with an immigration officer. Kim was the first to be questioned. After 10 minutes she was returned to the holding cell and then I was taken in for questioning. Another 10 minutes later I was escorted back to the holding cell. After an hour and a half of waiting to see what was going to happen to us the immigration official returned to give us the verdict. It was determined that we didn’t have the proper papers to enter the UK and we were refused entry into the country. She told us that we needed a visa. She also told us that we needed a work visa. So in total we were told 3 different stories of 3 different documents that were needed to teach 42 people in the United Kingdom jewelry art. She acted as if we had hatched some type of plan to subvert the British government and extort millions of pounds from the good people of the UK. We felt like common criminals. We were booked to leave the UK on a flight the next morning. The immigration official said that our checked bags were being sent directly to our home.
We were then told that we would have to spend the night in a separate holding facility that was off of the airport property. We were put back into our holding cell to await transportation. During our 5 hour wait sitting on the hardest metal benches ever created we watched a parade of some of the most unsavory individuals come into the holding cell. On top of all of that, the self-proclaimed terrorist that we met when we arrived stopped up the men’s toilet before he was escorted to his flight back to his home planet. That was real nice of him because it backed up and made a huge mess.
As the minutes and hours ticked away in the holding cell Kim and I fell deeper and deeper into depression. We never intended to do anything wrong, we felt that we had thoroughly investigated what was needed to enter the UK and teach our classes. We asked the shop owner what was needed and she said nothing was needed. We also thought about our family back home. We had no contact with them to let them know our situation. They didn’t know whether we made it to England okay and they certainly didn’t know that we were being detained and refused entry. I don’t think that I have ever been so depressed and demoralized in all of my life. The entire ordeal was one of the worse things that I have ever experienced and I would never wish this type of treatment on my worse enemy. But we hadn’t been to the overnight detention center yet….the whole experience gets worse…much worse.
At 5pm we were escorted to the vehicle that would take us to our overnight accommodations. The vehicle was lined with a locked cage making us feel even more like criminals. As soon as the van began to move Kim couldn’t take the stress any longer and she burst into tears. I did my best to comfort her, but the comfort was only temporary. Once we pulled up to the detention center she again fell apart. The building was surrounded by a 20-foot metal fence topped with razor wire. The gates slowly opened so the van could move into the outer parking area. We drove to a second gate that was opened leading us to another secured parking area. They parked the van and we waited for a third gate to open. This led us to the inner parking area where we would be removed from the van and escorted inside the building for further processing.
We were set in a small room where we again were searched, our carryon bags were searched, our picture was again taken, and we were explained how the overnight detention center worked. We were also told that we couldn’t take our cell phone into our room because it had a camera on it. I asked if I could make a call from my phone in front of him so I could let our family know that we were coming home the following day. He said that wouldn’t be a problem. I called one of our sons and let him know what happened. I didn’t go into any great detail because I only had a minute or so to make the call. I told him when we would arrive in Nashville and asked if he could arrange for someone to pick us up. This was the only contact that we had with anyone outside of the situation that we were in. It was one of the loneliest moments of my life,
After 20 minutes we were given picture id’s with a locker key attached. An officer escorted Kim and I to a doctor who asked us if we had any medical conditions. Interestingly enough, the doctor said that they don’t get many people from the States in there and he asked us what happened. We told him the whole story and he was in total disbelief that this went on. As a matter of fact, everyone that we dealt with couldn’t believe that this was happening.
After we met with the doctor another officer showed us around our “deluxe accommodations”. There was a computer room, a TV room, a courtyard that we could walk around in, a fitness room, and several places of worship. The room that we were assigned was designed for families to be detained. It was nice to know that Kim and I would be allowed to stay together because this proved to strengthen us through our ordeal. We were then escorted to the dining hall for dinner. The tour to the dining hall was one that really opened our eyes to the stark reality of our situation. The courtyard was full of men from the Middle East and Africa. As we walked through every eye was upon us and they all seemed to leer at us if as to have a desire to kill the ugly Americans. To add to this Kim was one of only two women in the facility. This put me on a heightened sense of protection for the security of my wife.
We went through the dinner line as quickly as we could. The only thought that we had was to eat fast and lock ourselves in our room until the next morning. The food was horrible – baked chicken (which was the highlight of the entire meal), nasty dry rice and potatoes that tasted as if they had been cooked in fish water, corn, bread, and a beverage (we chose water). We ate quickly so we could get to our room. Kim didn’t eat everything, I though ate it all. I think that I went into some type of prisoner mode feeling that I needed to fill the space in my stomach in case there wasn’t another meal in my future.
At 7pm that evening Kim and I made our beds and laid down to get our first sleep in about 36 hours. The beds were one step above lumpy cement. Kim quickly fell asleep for about 4 hours. I, on the other hand, laid there recalling everything that had just happened to us. I was still in total shock over the whole ordeal. All we wanted to do was visit the UK, teach a couple of small classes, tour London, and have a wonderful adventure. Instead we had the worse time of our lives.
At about 11pm Kim woke up and we talked for an hour about how we were going to pick up the pieces of our lives when we got home. What nobody knows is the financial toll that this took on us. We are not rich people by any means. We run a small business that takes care of our material needs and we are very satisfied with this. The only way that we were going to the UK to teach was the experience and financial gain that we would have. Once we taught all of the classes we would have the means to tour London. We would also have the finances to come home and improve our lot in life. We sacrificed a lot of things just to be able to purchase the tickets and materials for the class. To buy the materials we sold our old, crappy car with the plan of purchasing a much better one once we returned home. All of these wonderful plans have just been wiped out. At this point we have no idea how we care going to turn all of this around.
After our little talk we both laid down again to try and get at least a little sleep before we were escorted back to the holding cell at the airport. This time I fell asleep and Kim laid there pondering the events that had just taken place.
Saturday September 19, 2009
At 3:15am a female guard entered our secured room and informed us that we needed to wake up because we were going to be out processed in an hour and taken back over to the airport. Kim and I quickly got out of bed and began to shower. I have no idea why we bothered to clean up, we had to put on the same clothes that we had been traveling in for the past 56 hours. By now they began to smell like a herd of goats. We did our best to freshen up and were then escorted to the processing center.
We were again searched, our bags were searched, and we were placed in a room to wait for a ride to the airport. I don’t think that I have ever been frisked this much in my entire life. After 20 minutes or so we were placed back into a secure van and driven to the airport where we and our bags were again searched. Once we cleared security, again, we were driven back to the holding facility at the airport immigration center. After we and our bags were searched again, we were placed into the holding cell. We would sit there for two and a half hours. By this point we were tired and beat. We looked like a couple of worn out dishrags. Our morale was at an all-time low. And our butts had a permanent waffle imprint of the metal benches that we were sitting on.
At 8am we were escorted to our flight. The guards informed us that we wouldn’t get our passports back until we were out of British airspace. Like we were going to somehow take over the plane and have them take us back to the UK. This last escorted trip felt the worse. We were being paraded in front of the people that we would spend the next 9 hours with trapped inside of an airplane bound for the US. They all looked at us as if we were part of some international crime syndicate that had plans to hijack the plane. Talk about feeling like a criminal.
We met the flight attendant at the aircraft door and she showed us to our seats near the back of a completely booked flight. Our guard handed her two envelopes that contained our passports and tickets. Sitting in our seats waiting to leave we felt a little relieved. We prayed together for a safe trip back home and Kim jokingly took a couple of pictures out of our airplane window to show that we had actually been in the UK. They closed the aircraft door and we began our journey to Atlanta.
By this point, Kim and I had been in an aircraft for a long, long time. We both were exhausted and sleep deprived. We had a terrible ordeal spending the night in ‘little Beirut’. Our nerves were completely shot. Our bodies were quivering uncontrollably. During the flight one of the flight attendants asked Kim why we were detained and Kim unloaded the entire tale to her. By the time the story was over, the flight attendant felt bad for us. She told Kim that whatever we needed just ask – if we needed more to eat…or anything, just ask and she would take care of it. It was the first nice thing that happened to us in the past 48 hours.
We landed in Atlanta at 1pm and we were never so happy to be back in the US. The flight attendant handed us our envelopes containing our passports and told us not to open them. We walked, unescorted, to the immigration office. As the officer looked at the envelopes he said that we needed to be classified orange….I have no idea what that meant, but it didn’t sound good. He then changed that and said “wait a minute, you guys are American citizens, let me hurry up and get you guys on your way”. Finally, FREEDOM! He asked us why we had been denied entry and we explained to him the entire terrible situation. He explained, “we have a reciprocal agreement between the UK and us, they should have never done this to you”. I wish it had been him at the UK customs center instead of the moron that we dealt with. We were then sent on our way back home.
We got on our last flight to Nashville. During the flight home the delivery service called and left us a message that our bags, which we hadn’t seen since we left on Wednesday, were being taken to our home. Another piece of wonderful news.
We landed in Nashville and were met by our son and his wife. It was wonderful to finally see a familiar face. Kim again broke down in tears as she hugged our son and daughter in law (I’m actually getting a little choked up just writing about it). We got into their car and began telling them the entire tale. After the two hour trip we finally made it home. And things got even better. The rest of our children met us at our home. They had decorated our living room with balloons and a welcome home banner. We hugged them all and finally felt relieved to be back. Kim told them everything that took place not sparing any detail and they felt just as horrified as we did.
After a couple of ‘adult beverages’, Kim and I went to bed to try and catch up on all of the sleep that we had lost. It was the hardest that I have ever slept in my entire life. I was unconscious for 10 hours. When we woke up Sunday morning our bodies were still quivering. I hope that in the coming days that this horrible feeling stops.
So that is our tale. As I write this my thoughts are our future plans. We have no car, lost a couple thousand dollars that will devastate our financial future for the coming months, and we are emotionally crushed. Will we try to do this again? Probably not. I think that this experience has taught me that teaching wire art will be something that we will only do here in the States. It would have been wonderful to take my methods to the UK and I feel terrible for all of those that signed up for the class. All we can do now is try to fix everything that has been broken.
‘til next week.
Mackintosh Jewelry Studio
P.S. – does anyone know of a reliable vehicle for sale at a cheap price? Lol.
Thomas Cook Kos nightmare Edit
My partner and I have just come back from a week’s holiday in Kos. The return flight was supposed to arrive at NEWCASTLE at 8am on Friday morning. We arrived at Midnight on Friday night at MANCHESTER along with a plane full of people who were supposed to land at GATWICK. The plane landed a full 36 hours after we had to check out of our hotel on Thursday morning with no sleep, substandard food, and no opportunity to have a shower. Thomas Cook staff continually misled us as to the nature of the problem, bussed us around between airport and hotel where the only comfort offered was ‘free’ refreshments and a hard stone floor to sleep on, with no air-conditioning by 40 degrees Celsius and finally, back at the airport, we were fobbed off with a frozen burger and cold chips that you wouldn't feed to a dog.