Tag Archives: Airline Travel

Welcome Home, Home on Fire

I want to go back to the UK now.

A week ago I was trying to enjoy my last day in Oxford without wasting by fretting about traveling during a global pandemic.

It’s hard to explain certain things to people back home, like how cramped and close together people live in a place like Oxford.  I had wanted to take this photo for some time—if you look through the picture window of the house across the street you can see through to my neighbor Wendy’s back garden. I wanted to get a shot early in the morning when—I hoped—she wouldn’t see me.

It seemed to matter at the time.

I took a walk.  How had I never noticed that enormous Monkey Puzzle Tree, now laden with what looked like seed pods?

Were these juniper berries?  If I filled my pockets with them could I make homemade gin? These were my pressing questions.

None of the things I had worried about happened.  The bus to Heathrow had five passengers, all widely spaced and wearing masks except for That One Asshole.  This was Heathrow.

Here’s the main shopping and dining atrium in T2.  Usually my biggest concern is whether the Cath Kidston store will be open (it was not).

Almost everyone was wearing a mask and everyone practiced social distancing.  The plane was about 25% full.  This was going to be fine!

Obligatory farewell photo.

I played with the newfangled window dimmer button. There’s no window shade anymore.  Is it the magic of nanoparticles, I wondered, having worked in a nanoparticle lab years ago.

I watched movies: Rocket Man, Witness for the Prosecution, Book Smart, and Jojo Rabbit.

Every time I removed my mask to sip some water my mask and ear bud cords got tangled up.

We were served food as usual but there were no alcoholic beverages or coffee on board.

Beautiful Chicago.

Re-entry to the US was uneventful.  Public Health Service officials collected my contact details, took my temp, and handed me this.

O’Hare seemed like Heathrow at first.

But here were the C gates, with flights headed for Mexico City, Indianapolis, Washington DC, and Minneapolis.  I spent four hours here.  It was impossible to social distance and only about half of the people wore masks.

My first views of Minnesota on a hot muggy evening.

I retrieved my bag and found my car, which my son had parked in an airport ramp the previous day.  The next morning I would get a grocery delivery which I had set up while still in Oxford.

Phew!  After almost five months in the UK, I was home, with no dramas!

As I was driving home, a man named George Floyd was being murdered in the street by Minneapolis police just a few miles away for the alleged crime of trying to pass a counterfeit bill.

Protests erupted the next day.  The killer cops were fired but not arrested.  The protests turned violent Wednesday night and escalated each night.

Those who wear badges that say, “To Protect and Serve” (the police) abandoned the people of the Twin Cities and let looters run wild.  So far 255 businesses have been looted and/or burned.  Post offices.  Restaurants.  Pharmacies.  Gas stations.  Barber shops. Liquor stores.  Libraries, for god’s sake!

Nonprofit organizations like an Indian dance company, a Native American youth center, and an arts-funding foundation.  The grocery that delivered my food four days ago is now closed indefinitely. We are living under a curfew.  The national guard has now been called in, and Trump is even being consulted about sending federal troops.

The Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors did nothing but make polished, kumbaya speeches.

The cop who knelt on Floyd’s neck was charged with murder on Friday, but the ones who stood by and did nothing must be charged as well.

There have been rumors that the looters are all extremists—anarchists and/or white supremacists. There have been some people from other states among those arrested, but as of what we know now, most are Minnesotans.

I am in shock.  I have to find a way to get involved and keep moving.

Meanwhile, Minnesota passed the milestone of 1,000 Covid-19 deaths.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Is this it?  Is this the moment I will look back on in a month or a year and ask, “Why?  Why didn’t I get out of the UK while I could!?”

There so much loaded into that question.  Half a dozen people have asked me a version of it.

“Are you worried about being trapped there?”

“Are you okay there?”

“Are you staying there?”

“Are you coming home early?”

From the people from whom I am house sitting: “Do you need us to line up emergency cover in case you have to hot foot it back to the US?”

I think these questions are a reflection of the askers’ anxiety, and I totally understand.

I too feel anxious, but I feel safe here.  Would it be better if I took a crowded bus into London, spent time in a massive airport, and eight hours on a plane?

I wrote a version of the following on Facebook so some of you will have seen it already.

Britain is doing things differently. For instance, they are not closing schools. The thinking is, if schools are closed, 20% of the NHS workforce won’t be available for patient care because they’ll have to stay home to take care of their kids.  Also—and I have seen this backed up by the head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota—kids just don’t get or pass the virus on the way adults do.  There is also the panic-inducing factor, which I have begun to see among my American family whose children’s schools are closed.  “They’re closing the school?! This must be even worse than I thought!”  Fourth reason: This won’t peak for 10-12 weeks; schools closed now may have to stay closed for months.

Is the UK getting it right?  Time will tell.

In this interview with Mike Osterholm, head of CIDRAP, he describes in lay terms how it is thought the coronavirus is transmitted.  “Think about the last time you looked at the sunlight coming through the windows of your house, and you saw all that material floating, that dust, and you think, ‘Oh my, my house is dusty.’  That’s an aerosol; that just floats.  That’s not falling to the ground.  And we now have increasing evidence that coronavirus is likely doing the same thing.”

I honestly think I am better off “sheltering in place,” an option international organizations deploy when there is a security threat.

I may be wrong.  This morning’s news is that American Airlines has cancelled all its long-haul flights except two a day to Heathrow and Narita.

Is the noose tightening?   Will I have to take the Queen Mary home? That’d be okay, assuming I could afford it.  It’s on my bucket list.

In 1918, two of my grandfather’s sisters died in the global flu pandemic. They were 5 or 6 years old.  In the early 40s, my mother attended her cousin’s 5th birthday party and within hours he and another little boy were dead from meningitis.  My mother’s family was isolated for a week with a QUARANTINE banner circling their house and yard.

I Do Not wish for our elders to die. But I am grateful that the current pandemic doesn’t kill children and young people. Can you imagine the additional panic if children were dying? And the grief of parents and others would last for decades.

As an aside: When my mother’s family was quarantined, Mr. Goldenberg, who ran the five-and-dime store down the block, would deliver groceries at the back gate, then run back down the alley.  Yesterday I knocked on my next door neighbor’s door to give her my phone number.  She’s an elderly lady who lives alone.  She reciprocated.  We agreed, we hope we won’t need to call on one another for food deliveries, but it’s good to know that we can.

This morning, I found a note slipped through the letterbox.  Another neighbour has organized a “Charles Street Connected” group.  It’s meant to help us connect, pool resources, and support each other.

Look out for one another so that a month or a year from now we may look back on some positives that came out of this.

I’m Here

Here I am—yoo-hoo—over here!  Way over here, in Japan.

The 11.5 hour flight was uneventful. I watched five movies, ate three meals, and slept for five minutes.  Every once in a while I glanced back between the seats at my five-year-old nephew, and he was only sleeping once.  The rest of the time, he was hunched up like little kids do when they’re jazzed, his black eyes twinkling with excitement. He and his brother are now attending kindergarten and fourth grade, respectively, in local Japanese schools for two weeks.

I had brought my full-size smushy pillow, and it made all the difference in comfort to be able to lean against the window with some padding.

I had a bit of a rocky start in Tokyo.  My cell phone wouldn’t charge, then died.   I walked in circles for almost an hour trying to find my hotel.  The “tower view” I’d paid extra for was a view of a brick wall, and no one at the front desk spoke enough English for it to be worth my while trying to explain it.  When I logged into my credit card account there were a slew of charges from a company I’d never heard of.

Thank god I’d brought my laptop!  How else would I have been able to find an Apple Store in Tokyo?  The folks at the front desk knew only enough English to point at a map handout (all in Japanese except the name of the hotel), to show me how to get to a local train station.

All is well now.  My experience at the Apple Store was delightful.  My Restless Legs disappeared completely for three nights!  I can only guess that my brain thought nighttime here was daytime due to the 14-hour time difference, and I never get RLS during the day.  It’s back now, bad as ever.

I spent two full days in Tokyo, then moved on to Nikko, a small city in the north.  The advertised reason to come here is to visit the shrines dedicated to the first shogun, Tokugawa, and others.  They are amazing, but the delight for me here has been nature and food.

This was my first meal here; a bento box featuring yuba, a local specialty that is soy rolled out paper thin then rolled up into pinwheels.

Here is a photo from a walk I took yesterday along the Tamozawa River.

You could look at this and say, “Hey, this looks just like the Knife River on the North Shore near Duluth!  Why go thousands of miles away when you can drive two hours and see similar scenery?”

And you would be right, to a point.  I love the North Shore and fully intend to go there this summer, too.  But it doesn’t have red painted sacred wood bridges that are hundreds of years old, or stone bodhisattvas wearing red knitted caps and bibs.

It was on this walk—on my fourth day after arriving—that I felt myself come down off the ledge of worry about my phone, my credit card, finding stations and getting on the right trains….  This is often the way when I travel.

After my two-hour walk I hit the main shrine, which involved another half hour hike up a very steep incline followed by 200 steps where I passed people literally bent over double and clutching their chests.

At the top, in the Temple of the Crying Dragon, I was basically accused of shoplifting a lucky talisman.  Thankfully I was too tired to come out swinging, which would be my usual response.  But I left in a huff wishing bad karma on a Buddhist.  More on that later.

I consoled myself with a bowl of yuba ramen.

I returned to my inn and soaked in the onsen, or hot spring bath, which is 10 steps from my room.  Yes, you do it naked.

As I sat on the edge of the pool and gazed out the window I saw there was a stone Buddha in the bushes.  I could just make out his big fat belly … wait—I was looking at my own reflection!

Dang, guess I better watch it with the giant ramen bowls.

Australia Bound

Twelve hours from now, I will be in Los Angeles waiting for my flight to Sydney. Sydney is 13 hours ahead of LA, and the flight is 15 hours long, so that means in theory I will try to stay awake as long as possible and then sleep the second half, so I will be somewhat rested when I arrive in Australia at 7:30am.

If Lynn is reading this she is probably laughing, because she knows I can barely stay up past 9pm.  But I have been slowly moving my bedtime forward in anticipation of this trip, and last night I was awake until 1:30am—probably for the first time since I was a teenager.

I downloaded an app called Timeshifter that claims to help people shift their wake/sleep schedules ahead of long-haul trips.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of staying indoors with the blinds drawn to block out the sun during the day, and drinking coffee at 3:00 in the morning.  So I deleted the app and concocted a do-it-yourself program. I’m not great at math so I may have it all backwards. I fully expect to get no sleep on the plane and arrive completely exhausted.

As is my habit—and I recommend this to anyone—I use a big trip as a deadline to really get in shape so I will have energy and strength for lifting and pulling bags and walking everywhere—and staying awake.  For the last seven weeks I set a goal for myself to swim for 45 minutes once a week, bike 20 miles a week, lift weights twice, do yoga twice, and walk two or three times.  I am happy to report I stuck to this plan so now I can let myself go.

Yesterday after work I went for a swim even though I Really Did Not Want To.  I am still a crap swimmer.  I have no endurance; rare is the instance I can do the crawl for a full pool length. I always tell myself, “It’s okay to go slow” but that gives me the sensation I am sinking.  So then I flail and thrash about and am soon winded.  I do a half dog paddle, half crawl the rest of the way, gasping for breath.

Which brings me to the What Ifs.  What if my lousy swimming is due to having undiagnosed lung cancer?  As usual, I think about all the possible things that could go wrong before or during a big trip.  This is not helped by the half dozen comments I’ve received from well-meaning people warning me about crocodiles, sharks, and poisonous things in the desert.

What about you?  Would you rather be attacked by a shark or a croc?  I’d take a shark any day.  I think it would be a quick death, whereas crocs pull you under water while you’re still alive and munch on you at their leisure.  Plus, you can punch or kick a shark and maybe they’ll back off, or at least that’s the lore.

But my mind is not limited to savage wild animal attacks.  What if I stub my toe and break it today, and the doctor says I cannot fly with a broken bone?    What if someone hacks into my bank accounts while I’m camping in the desert and cleans me out?  What if someone breaks into my house while I’m away and steals…my plants or my 10-year-old TV?

Most dreaded of all: What if my flight turns into another Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

While all this is whirling around in my head I will carry on doing what needs to be done, including putting my plants in the bathtub so they’ll live without me for a month, fishing the goldfish out of the backyard pond and delivering them to a neighbor who has a year-round pond, calling my mother, going for a walk, packing, unplugging all my appliances, and cleaning out my car because I am renting it to someone while I’m gone.

What an exciting life I lead!  I really am fortunate.  Even if the plane does go into a death spiral over French Polynesia, I will have had a fantastic time up until then.

Welcome, Now Go Away

This is a series of posts about spending the summer abroad that starts here.

Greetings from Copenhagen!  Obviously I got here, and the journey was pretty smooth.

My flight to London from Minneapolis was sold out.  There were only two open seats, in the last row.  I was in the second-to-last row with a guy who introduced himself to me as Chuck.  “Chatty Chuck,” I immediately dubbed him in my head.  I flagged down a flight attendant and asked if Chuck or I could move to the empty row but she explained they were reserved for the flight crew.  I felt rude as I donned my earplugs and sleep mask while Chuck chatted away, but within minutes I was sound asleep.  When I woke after the plane leveled off, Chuck was in the back row.  “They said they wouldn’t need these after all,” he reported excitedly. I flopped down across two seats of heavenly sleeping comfort.

Now, two seats on an airplane are still not much room.  I’m 5’ 3” and still had to assume a fetal position.  But I was horizontal.  And I had my full-sized feather pillow, which gave me something soft to rest my head on instead of the arm rest.

It was the best sleep over I’ve ever had.  I woke the next morning at 11:30 London time, a half hour before arrival, and slugged down two cups of coffee.

My vertigo was gone.  My mother, a neurobiologist in her mind, had predicted, “that thing—you know, that airplane pressure thing,” might make it go and I had snickered but maybe she was on to something.  Now doctors could just prescribe a trans-Atlantic flight for vertigo.

One of my fears was that, because my trip is so long, border control at Heathrow might think I was entering the UK to stay.  I had an envelope with financial documents to prove I had assets in the US—a property, savings, a job to return to.  But the agent asked to see proof of my onward flight to Copenhagen.  When I checked in, the SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) website had promised to send my boarding pass via text “right away,” but it never materialized.

I was explaining this to the agent.  She looked annoyed and bored.  Imagine all the lame stories they must hear.  Typical of an immigration hall, there were signs saying, “The use of Mobile Phones is Expressly Forbidden in this Area.”  I asked permission to use mine so I could show an email with the flight confirmation.  She sighed and said yes, as though that was the most obvious thing in the world and why hadn’t I done it already?  The email wouldn’t load.  She rolled her eyes and said as though speaking to a very naughty five year old, “Madam, I will make a special allowance this time.  But in future, I strongly suggest you do not rely so heavily on technology.”

“But I don’t have a printer at home….”  She stamped my passport by way of saying, “Don’t Care!  Next!” and away I went.  In my passport was stamped this friendly message, “No work or recourse to public funds.”

I wonder what we stamp in visitors’ passports when they enter the US?  If anyone knows, please share.  Since I couldn’t go on the dole in England, I would just have to move on to Copenhagen.  But first I had to get my luggage, check back in, go through security, and hang out at Heathrow for five hours.

To my dismay, there was a five-inch-long gash in my suitcase.  I had been lucky enough to find an “It” bag, the lightest bag in the world, on sale at TJ Maxx. The Delta agent was very solicitous, giving me a claim number, telling me to register it online asap, and fruitlessly trying to tape up the gash with tape that immediately fell off.  As long as the gash doesn’t lengthen, I should be okay.  I’ve got some duct tape in my bag I packed to mend mosquito netting in Ethiopia.  I am keeping my expectations for the claim—for instance if Delta even responds to it within six months—very low.

Herding Cats

This is a series of posts about Belize and Guatemala that starts here.

My post about overbooked flights coincided with the story of that guy who was dragged off the United Airlines flight. My bumping experience was different, to say the least.

Flying from Minneapolis to London, Delta picked me out of the crowd at the gate and told me I had to give up my seat.  I started to protest, when the gate agent said, “We’ll put you on another flight that leaves an hour from now … it gets into Heathrow an hour earlier,” she added in a low voice.  “And we’ll give you a $750 voucher.”  Still, my reflex was to open my mouth and complain but something stopped me.  “And we’ll seat you in first class,” she added.

“Um, okay?!” I said.  My luggage went with the first flight but that turned out okay, because I was staying on a farm in a remote village called Oddington.  If my bag had come with me, I would have had to schlep it on and off several trains and buses.  This way, the airline delivered it the farmhouse door the next morning.

You are probably thinking this story belongs with those mythical tales about unicorns, but it really happened.

I stood by the border agent’s booth in Belize for 30 minutes.  She granted me permission to use my phone to try to contact the tour leader, Mark.  I tried a text, then phoning, which later cost me $15, and I got voice mail.  I tried an email but my phone or the connection was too slow for it to send.

Two drunk Canadian women in their 50s came through and noticed me standing there.  I explained the sitch.  “We’re staying at the Funky Dodo Hostel,” one whispered loudly, six inches from the border agent.  “Tell her you’re staying there.” She fumbled in her purse and pulled out the address and loudly “whispered” it while looking in my direction with unfocused eyes.  The people behind her in line were getting irritated.  She repeated the address several times, then shambled away with her friend.

The border agent and I smirked at each other.  She made me sweat another 10 minutes, then led me over to another booth where second agent flipped through my passport, stamped it in the most bored, sarcastic way, and let me in.

It was a rookie mistake.  This was Mark’s first time leading an international trip, and someone at Wilderness Inquiry should have trained him on it. It wasn’t his fault.  But I should have known. Each of the nine other members of my group was similarly detained, so Mark had been waiting in the arrivals hall for four or five hours.

Well, we were finally all here.  The arrivals hall was chaotic.  The Belize airport was built in sleepier times, and now Belize is a hot tourist destination so it’s just too small.

Mark kept trying to round us up and get us into our 12-passenger Ford Econoline rental van.  This was complicated by the fact that we had a deaf woman among us, Trudy.  Trudy was a firecracker—in her 70s, maybe 5’ tall, divorced with four grown children, retired—she had traveled with Wilderness Inquiry to Peru, Australia, and New Zealand.  As I’ve written, WI’s thing is inclusion, which is great, but Trudy was all over that airport checking out the gift shops. Mark would yell after her, realize that was pointless, then yell at her interpreter, Emily, who was also with us on the trip.  Then Emily would march after Trudy and sign furiously.  There were others who ignored Mark throughout the trip.  Today was the first of many times we would wait for them in the van.  That sounds worse than it was; we were a pretty easy going group.  After all, we were on vacation.

At last, we were all gathered in the Econoline with our luggage and on our way to the Crystal Paradise Resort, 70 miles from Belize City and only about 13 miles from the Guatemalan border.  This would position us for the crossing into Guatemala and on to Tikal the following day.

Hail Mary

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

I was waiting at the Catania, Sicily airport for my flight to Malta.

I have the oldest iPhone and I am slowly becoming unable to do things with it. I tried to download Rick Steves’ free audio tours before I left but my operating system was too ancient.  Videos take so long to load that I usually just give up.  And when I travel, I can only access the wireless in about every other airport.  It may not be my phone; I don’t know.  But I’ve just come to not expect a wireless connection and if I get one, I’m happy.

So when I saw “Marco’s wireless” and other hot spots pop up, I was tempted to try freeloading.  I once got into a wireless network in London named “Anna” by using the password Anna1.  Everyone around me was on his or her phone, maybe because they were European and were just using 3G.  I was tempted to try Marco1 but decided it would be embarrassing if Marco caught me.  I didn’t want to do anything to risk getting to Malta.

One thing that is everywhere is that damn Samsung whistle tone, and I’m not the only one who finds it irritating.  People!  It’s not cool to force everyone around you to hear those 5 annoying notes (or any other cell sound, for that matter).  It doesn’t make you cool that you get a lot of notifications.  Everyone gets a lot of notifications.  But we have our phones set on silent or vibrate out of courtesy to others.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

On the flight to Malta, I had the aisle seat and a woman in her 20s sat by the window with no one in the middle.  Hurrah! My fellow passenger had purple hair, piercings, tattoos, and was wearing black from neck to sole. She was quite pudgy, and the tats on the back of her hands were almost swallowed in fat dimples.  She avoided eye contact so I read the Guardian, moaning inwardly about the still-shocking election news.

When the pilot announced we were preparing to land, my companion pulled out a crucifix.  Based on her appearance I thought it must have something to do with a heavy metal band she played in but, she began silently counting off the Hail Marys.  That’s Italian!

She looked over at me as if to say, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I did what I often do with fellow travelers who are terrified of flying, started a conversation about something—anything—unrelated to flying.  “Are you going to Malta for holiday?” I asked.  No, she was visiting her boyfriend who had gotten a job there.  We made small talk until the plane landed, uneventfully.  That was when the all the passengers except me broke out in loud applause and those I could see were made the sign of the cross.  My acquaintance slipped the crucifix back in her pocket and we wished each other a nice visit.

I’ve seen passengers applaud routine landings in Latin America but it was a first for me in Europe.

I bought a round-trip ticket for transportation from the airport to my hotel on Malta Transfer for €16.  The motherly woman at the desk instructed me to go upstairs, outside, to the left, and around the airport to find the van.  By the time I got outside I couldn’t remember if she’d said left or right so I wandered back and forth until I saw an unmarked van.  The driver told me to go to another ticket office.  There, they exchanged my ticket for another ticket, stamped it, and told me to go wait in a corner. A group of us slowly assembled, then a man in a uniform came along and told us to follow him.  He intrepidly led us about 30 feet to another van marked “MALTA TRANSFER.”

In 20 minutes I was dropped in a square.  “You go down a few steps, there—around the corner—and you will find your hotel,” said my driver.

Here are the few steps:


It Could Have Been Worse

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

I’ve already written some about Malta—all the planning it took to get there, the fact that the thing that sparked my interest in going there, the Hal Soflieni Hypogeum, turned out to be closed for renovation; waking up to the US election results, and visiting the immigration office to (half-jokingly) see if I could claim political asylum.

But before I leave Rome, check out this photo that’s now my login screen.


Up til now, the screens have all been nature scenes.  I’ve been writing about Rome; does Microsoft somehow know that, and tailor its screen art to me?  Why?  The image isn’t for sale.  I know the mega tech companies are harvesting my data all the time, but it’s creepy when it’s this blatant. When I begin to write about Malta, we’ll see if they throw up a photo from there.  Maybe it’s just a coincidence.

I’ve also written about the adventure of booking a flight on Ryanair.  I had never flown Ryanair that I remembered.  I don’t have any problem with their business model—sell the cheapest flights; make profit on the extras.  I was curious how the actual flight experience would be.

The first thing I noted was that the seats were roomier and cushier than on US airlines. What the ? I had expected them to be even more cramped, if that was possible.  Maybe these flights were the exception, or maybe we were on ancient planes.

The main difference between a Ryanair flight and other flights I’ve been on is the advertising.  There were ads on the seatback, in my face, and on the overhead bins—promoting—what else?  Ryanair vacations.

Food and drink was for sale only, and then there was the cart with perfumes and watches and other luxury goods.

Who books a €50 cheapo flight on Ryanair, then buys a €200 1-ounce bottle of Dior Poison on board?  No one, on any flight I’ve ever been on.  But people must do it.  This stuff is shilled by all airlines, but on other airlines it’s done once, half-heartedly, as though the flight attendants are embarrassed to do it.  On Ryanair they walked up and down the aisles repeatedly throughout the flight and are very assertive.  Maybe they’re on commission?

My flight from Rome to Catania was an hour late taking off. There was no explanation.  After we took off the pilot said casually, “Sorry about that delay; it’ll put us into Catania about an hour and a half past schedule.”

My connection was tight.  I flagged down a flight attendant and made what I thought was a reasonable request.  I was mid-plane.  Could they let me off first when we landed, so I could run to catch my next Ryanair flight?  She looked puzzled, as though no one had ever asked anything like this before.  She examined my boarding passes, then shook her head.  “No, we can’t make a special exception for you.” As if I was trying to scam her.

“All Ryanair flights are separate, so you’ll have to claim your bag in Catania, check in again, and go through security again.”

“You’re going to miss your next flight no matter what.” She gave me an unsympathetic smile and abruptly walked away.

My heart started pounding and my thoughts racing withthe What Ifs?  What if there wasn’t another flight to Malta that day?  What if there was, but Ryanair didn’t take responsibility for me missing the first one and made me pay again?  What if they charged me a million dollars?  What if I never got to Malta?  What if I never got to Spain to meet Lynn?

In the end, my second flight was also over an hour late so I had no trouble catching it.

It could have been worse.  I could have been in this prison bus waiting to board that flight you never want to be on.  It’s painted all black.  Really?  Was that necessary?  Seems a little melodramatic and trite at the same time.