Flight

I realized at some point in my long journey back to South Carolina last week that I hadn't let my blog readers know my year-long stay in Rwanda was at an end. I had a lot of time to think a lot of things during that trip, as it started at approximately 8:00 am EST on Friday May 14 and lasted until about 10:00 AM EST on Monday the 17th. In lieu of an introspective post examining my time in Rwanda (which may come later), I'll succumb to the lesser allure of commiseration and list off my fantastical sojourn:

  • Hour 0 - Check-in at Kigali International Airport for a flight to Addis Ababa which should depart in approximately two hours. I am mentally prepared for the three flight, 24-hour long journey.
  • Hour 2 - Told that the flight would be delayed three hours.
  • Hour 6 - Told the flight would be delayed another few hours. Minor riot in the airport office, as passengers insist to hear someone at the other airport confirm a plane was actually on its way.
  • Hours 12-15 - Take-off for the first leg, a few-hour flight to Addis.
  • Hour 15 - Land in Addis, missing my connection to Dulles by an African sky.
  • Hour 16 - Find out Ethiopian Airlines had default booked me on the next flight following the same route as my original itinerary, which would not be leaving for another 36 hours or so.
  • Hours 16-19 - After a remarkable show of patience by a travel companion who was heading as far as DC, I with him secure an alternative route via London, departing in about 12 hours.
  • Hours 19-28 After receiving hotel voucher and grabbing checked luggage, spend several daylight hours convalescing in a comfortable hotel room. I am already slightly jet-lagged, despite having completed only ~10 percent of the trip in terms of miles.
  • Hours 34-46 - Flight to London takes off
  • Hour 46 - Land in Heathrow, confirm I am still on standby for my last connecting flight to Charlotte.
  • Hours 47-55 - Washington-bound
  • Hours 55-56 - Land, find out my bags are at a different claim, get bags, check them back in for standby flight to Charlotte
  • Hours 57-60 - Luxuriate in relative leisure of fast wireless, a plethora of food and drink options, and empty comfortable chairs.
  • Hour 61 - Feel an ember of hope at discovery that I am first on the standby list.
    • Info display flashes ice into my soul as I realize all seats have been bought and everyone has checked in.
    • A last spark of joy as gate  guy tells me headcount is missing one and says I should take off down the gangplank without even looking at ID or my boarding card.
    • After being placed in last empty seat on the plane, I try to ignore the dread feeling that the man whom I passed on the tarmac talking to airport personnel was the missing passenger and "rightful" holder of my seat.
    • The dread is realized, for about a minute after being seated I am told I must deplane.
    • Exit the plane, walk back up the gangplank against the current of passengers boarding another flight.
  • Hour 62 - Head to customer service to find next flight
    • Resist urge to let tears of indignity fall by evaporating them with the self-righteous anger I feel as other passengers in the queue loudly decry how awful their missed connection is for them.
    • In a bit of good news, discover there's a flight direct to my hometown in SC the next morning, so I can bypass Charlotte and a 90-minute drive.
    • In a bit more bad news, discover my bags made the flight I missed and were halfway to Charlotte.
    • Seeing as it was about 11 PM, use some weird payphone like device in the terminal to book a room at a nearby hotel.
  • Hours 63-70 - Sleep fitfully in a $200/night airport Marriott paid for in cash.
  • Hour 72  - Flight to final destination finally departs. Finally.
  • Hour 74 -  I arrive.
  • Hour 84 - My bags arrive.