Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Travel Day From Hell in Facebook Posts

Here I am, back in Tallinn. I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

My uncertainty started a few days before. My dog got stuck on the nose by one of the myriad of insects in the DC area, and apparently had an allergic reaction. So we went from an itchy lump on her nose to some mild barfing to explosive poopies.

Just what you look for two days before you are planning to leave the country and leave your baby in the hands of pet sitters (who are awesome, but who are not you).

But one trip to the emergency vet and a few hundred dollars later, she was fine. And I was back on track to come to Tallinn for my TDY.

My shuttle arrived about 10 minutes later than scheduled but I didn't worry, since it was scheduled for an hour before I felt like I needed to leave. We made it to the airport in plenty of time. Then I get to the ticket counter and...

Digger Diplomat
August 23 6:34 pm
So apparently American cancelled my ticket. WTF???

So I spent more than an hour working with British Airways people and the government person at the agency we are required to use to make our reservations. They said they hadn't received my orders, so they canceled by ticket. I consider turning around and going home, but remember that I really like my old boss and want to help her out. Plus I really don't want to spend two weeks apart from my wife, especially since our anniversary is during that two weeks. So I had the travel agent rebook everything. I also had her put in my known traveler number so I would be able to speed through security and make my flight. So we should all be good now, right?

Not so much. 

Digger Diplomat
August 23 7:44 pm 
Finally got my tickets. Too expensive to upgrade to economy plus. And the travel company didn't put in my known traveller number even though I gave it to them twice. And I got stuck behind the people in the security line with tons of crap and no clue how to go through. Sigh.I better get a pic with the President out of this!

Finally got my tickets as in only one hour before my 8:55 flight! AND the company got to charge the Department for having to deal with this over the phone...even though it was their error. And that upgrade to economy plus would have cost me nearly $400! 

Digger Diplomat
August 23 8:02 pm
Back on the flight. [Redacted travel company] STILL doesn't know they have to abide by the Open Skies treaty, hence they routed me on American carriers only....DC to London to Copenhagen to Tallinn...

This is actually a problem. The Open Skies Treaty we signed means that if a flight originates, terminates or transits the EU, we can't insist on only American carriers. EU carriers also need to be considered. Bet I could have gotten a better flight if they had considered say Lufthansa or Scandinavian Airlines... Regardless, given that this nasty routing was my original itinerary, I had a suit in my backpack. You know, just in case my suitcase doesn't make all those connections.  So I wasn't too worried about the number of stops. 
Then, at the gate, my name is called. Please come to the counter immediately. Really? Now what? I wonder if it is too late to go home. No no, my wife is already there.
Oh good...they just moved me back one row because a family had been separated. But it wasn't my last seat movement.

Digger Diplomat
August 23 :8:40 pm
Finally on board. A passenger asked me to switch with him, so now I am on an exit row with lots of leg room. Not that I need it

Oh, well that is good, right? Much less claustrophobic. No seatback pouch though...I spy the barf bag in the pouch across the aisle from me and mentally note that if I feel airsick, I bet I can grab that guy's back before he does! But I should be fine, right? I have taken my dramamine an hour beforehand, and it lasts for four hours. I should be fine. 

Digger Diplomat
August 23 9:03 pm
Sitting in the tarmac. They have too many bags on board and have to turn around, causing a "significant delay." Awesome.

So we were already away from the gate when they discovered that one of the bags on board had been mistagged for the people behind me. It didn't belong to anyone on the plane. For security reasons, it needed to be taken off before we could fly. Wonder if this will happen in time for me to make my connection in London to Amsterdam? I only have an hour and a half layover. 

Digger Diplomat
August 23 9:58 pm 
Still waiting on the tarmac. over an hour now.

Not feeling optimistic about my connection.

Digger Diplomat
August 23 10:08 pm
This is taking so long they are reshowing the safety video 

It also took so long they had to top off the fuel!
The pilot says they have been routed a faster route. Any bets on my making my connection?

Digger Diplomat
August 24 5:49 am [10:49 am London time]
Travel day from hell continues. Missed my flight to Copenhagen. The next one leaves in two hours. Then a five hour layover...and there is no Estonian Air rep here to make sure I can get on thay flight

Digger Diplomat
August 24 12:02 pm London time
BA gave me a five pound voucher...that neither covered my lunch nor adequately compensated me for my inconvenience.

I should turn around and go home. At this point, wanting to help my boss has fallen from my motivational list. Only my wife remains...

Digger Diplomat
August 24 5:04 pm Copenhagen time
Made it to Copenhagen. Took some doing to find my ticket to Tallinn. When the agent finally found it, she said I was in business class (which differs from regular class on Estonia Air only by seat location and free alcohol....and I don't drink.) I asked if that meant I could use the business class lounge and she told me to go try. The agent at the lounge, however, said that while I might have a seat IN business class, it isn't coded business class. So she sent me I just have to sit in the hall and wait for four hours.#willthisdayneverend?

More than a tad embarrassing. Seriously? I should turn around and go home. At this point, wanting to help my boss has fallen from my motivational list. Only seeing my wife remains..

Digger Diplomat
August 24 6:07 pm Copenhagen time 
Just spent $20 for a sandwich, chips and a diet coke...and it was the cheapest thing I could find!

Digger Diplomat
August 24 8:15 pm Copenhagen time 
There have been multiple points today where if it hadn't meant spending two weeks apart from wife (including our anniversary), I'd have said screw it and gone home. And it isn't over yet!
Oh, had I mentioned this before? It is because I thought about it. A Lot.

Digger Diplomat
August 24 11:27 pm Tallinn time 
Made it to Tallinn. Wonder if my bag did. 
The good news is that my bag made it as the same time I did. I was in the hotel and in bed...a mere 24 hours after my journey began. And nearly twice as long as it has ever taken me to get here.

But at least I will spend my wedding anniversary with my wife....hopefully.

1 comment:

Get Me Outta Here said...

Hello there. I found your blog a few weeks ago as I started thinking about a career in the Foreign Service. Your blog is a goldmine of inside experience. It makes me feel so stupid to admit that (despite having a friend from Estonia) I had never heard of Tallinn until I started reading your blog. As I watched the news yesterday and saw President Obama speaking from Tallinn, it made me feel proud to know that there are a lot of good people behind the scenes that made that visit happen. I just wanted to thank you for your service to our country and for your service to us future diplomatic hopefuls. I'm registered for the October FSOT. I wasn't going to register until I started reading your blog (and those of others that you have listed on your blog roll). After a TON of reading, I became more and more convinced that a career in the Foreign Service is the right path for me. Thank you for giving such an excellent inside perspective! Take care.