Europe: Day 16: Paris – Rue Cler Walk, Attempt to make it home from Paris

On the train from Paris to the airport, Tenille and I reflected on our successful trip.  We had just turned down an offer by our taxi driver to take us to the airport for 20 more Euros.  We thought we were being frugal by taking the train, but ended up paying 17 Euros for the train.  Ends up we were just being dumb to be taking a hot, non-A/C train dragging all of our luggage around for the same price as we could have had for an air conditioned taxi ride right to our gate.  Furthermore, we were running a bit late because we had just spent the morning walking around in the rue Cler neighborhood buying gifts.  We got some olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a thank you gift for our parents for watching Caleb. 

Thinking about our poor choice in transportation, Tenille consoled, “At least nothing has gone majorly wrong with our trip.  I’ve heard that some people missed their train and/or flights and their trip gets screwed up for days.”  I reminded Tenille that you’re not really supposed to say things like that until we’re safely home eating dinner.  “What could possibly happen at this point?”

We arrived at the airport with about 45 minutes to spare.  We were not accustomed to the level of service at the French airport which was magnified by the fact that we were running late.  On several occasions, we had to interrupt customer service agent’s valuable flirting time so that we could check in.  Tenille made an interesting note that in Europe, there are posters that list the rights of the employees of the airport.  In the US, there are posters of the rights of the traveler. 

We managed to fumble through the airport and get on our plane.  We got to London an hour and a half late.  The whole flight is only an hour and a half, so I’m not quite sure what  happened to make the flight double in duration.  Needless to say, many passengers were in a panic about their connecting flight.  The British Airway stewardesses were feelingless.  They were cold statues that have likely experienced this on a daily basis, and had run out of any sympathy.  They coldly told passengers that this happens all the time, and someone from BA will take care of them.  We were feeling ok, because we still had an hour to our flight.  Little did we know, that we had to check in through Passport control, Baggage claim, then customs, before we could check in to our next flight.  At the Passport control, we told one of the service agents our dilemma.  He asked why we didn’t check our bags in so they went straight through?  “We didn’t know you could do that” we replied.  It was tough enough just get our bags checked.  He chuckled and sympathized, making a comment about the lack of helpfulness often experienced in France.  By the time we made it to check in, we had 41 minutes to the flight.  A customer service agent asked us which flight we were on.  We told her, and she took us out of line and to her special terminal.  She started typing away, then told us that we missed the cut off.  We had to check in 45 minutes before the flight.  She pointed us to a customer service agent, and we unhappily resigned to our fate and prepared to find another flight home.  As we were explaining our situation, we noticed that there were many others in the same predicament as us.  Most of them very angry.  We were fortunate enough to have a helpful agent find us flight to Vancouver Canada, otherwise we would have to go on standby the next day.  We opted for Canada.  Worst case, we could take a bus down to Seattle.  At least we’d be in the right continent and within driving distance.  When we got to the gate an hour later, the direct flight to Seattle (that we apparently missed) was still at the gate next to our gate.  The passengers to the Seattle flight did not take off for another hour after we got there.  We asked the gate attendant if we could get on that flight.  One would think that would be a reasonable request.  One would be wrong.  We had to painfully watch the passengers board the plane that was supposed to take us directly home while we waited for a plane to Canada.

Our flight to Canada was uneventful, but again late.  We ran to the gate of our connecting flight this time, thinking we’re not going to miss another flight.  But, we were not even close.  The plane had taken off long ago.  It was now quite late.  We sulked back to the main terminal to find a British Airways agent to find another way back down to Seattle.  After a few laps around the terminal, we were not able to find a BA agent.  We looked quite thoroughly.  In fact, we found several other people who needed to make the same Seattle connection, but also missed the flight.  After about half an hour of walking back and forth and asking several people, we found the BA lady.  She gave us a choice of either taking a flight the next day, or going home by limo.  I was 100% for finishing this trip today and opted for the limo.  The other 3 passengers also opted for the limo.  The BA Lady cut us some vouchers and asked us to go stand outside at the limo stand.  When a limo pulls up, we give our voucher, and they’ll take us to Sea Tac.  All of us were relieved that there was a solid plan for getting home.  We all made our respective calls to our family members and let them know that this horrible day of traveling was soon about to come to a close.  After about 15 minutes of waiting, a lady came up to us, and asked, “You guys aren’t waiting for a limo are you? They’re all on strike!”…   Some of us laughed in true disbelief.  Honestly, we thought it was a joke… but the lady messenger of doom did not laugh, and our countenance also shifted.  It was indeed a cosmic joke.  We sent a messenger back to the BA lady to tell her that we need an alternate plan.  The BA Lady gave us vouchers for a nearby hotel, and cut us tickets on the commuter plane the following morning.  That evening, we went to the hotel.  One of the ladies that was waiting with us, gave us her food voucher.  We went to town on the room service.  We figured, we might as well make the best of it.  We got just about every other appetizer they had, order several entrees.  Tenille ordered a cheesecake and nachos to top it all off… When the food arrived, we were a bit embarrassed that we had ordered so much food.  But, the embarrassment didn’t last long, and we gorged, courtesy of BA.

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