connect!

airplane!



Every summer when I leave for the States, flying stand-by, I declare that it is for the last time. Summer travel out of Europe is a bit hairy for paying passengers, so for me, the low man on the totem pole, it is a total nightmare.

Arriving at Charles de Gaulle, the check-in line was about 100 customers deep but was moving somewhat steadily. During my wait, I did however notice the terminal now has two PCs and printers! The computers were mostly being utilized by passengers who had forgotten to register for their ESTA in order to authorize entry into the United States, but one man who gave no impression whatsoever to be catching a flight took it to the next level. He took up one of the machines to watch Russian YouTube videos of stock auto races. The other passengers looked less than thrilled when he paid for additional fifteen minutes. Me on the other hand was envious of the extra time he appeared to have. The buffer time I allocated myself with was stolen at on the peripherique due to an accident, and we sat in standstill gridlock 20 minutes.


With my non-assigned boarding pass, much to my horror, I arrived at customs with a line that snaked around 14 times. The clock on my phone was moving faster than the actual line and with only 30 minutes to get to my gate, I had to think fast and act smart. Taking a risk, I left the line to speak to one of the airport personnel to explain that my flight would close soon and to ask there was a line for passengers whose flights were soon departing. Just as I arrived, I saw her shoo away a man who was barking at her a request to cut the line because his flight was also about to talk off. She was so not having any of it. Merde.

Having no other choice since I had already abandoned my place on the line, I approached the woman anyway. Pulling out the big guns with all sorts of polite French tenses and sentences, and also not expecting much, I calmly explained my case. I knew that I was most likely not even going to get onto the oversold flight, but I wanted to at least try. The guard listened, looked at my boarding pass that read NO SEAT and had me follow her, explaining that it would be at the discretion of the customs officer. She walked me to one of the counters and proceeded to explain to the unamused officer. Without so much a facial expression, he extended his arm out for my passport, stamped it and wished me good luck getting on the flight. That was not at all expected. I think I said merci about ten times before they both shooed me away. I guess I was overdoing it, but I was sincerely grateful. Not being a full paying customer or even an actual airline employee, I have zero clout in an airport. So on the rare occasion when someone is actually nice to me, I tend to go into shock.

Now I was on countdown. Breezing through security, I situated myself in a corner to prepare myself for the hustle I was about embark on. I traded out my kitten heels for flat espadrilles, stuffed my cardigan in my bag, tied my hair up in a high ponytail, and pressed play on my internal soundtrack; that English Beat song that is that  climactic final scene of Ferris Beuller's Day Off where he is racing his parents home by running through the backyards. That song is my official "beat the clock" jam and I have to say, it adds a little adventure to what would otherwise be a stressful situation. 

With my roller board in tow, I hauled ass through the terminal; weaving in and out of other passengers practically hopping over their suitcases, children wandering away from their parents served as unexpected mini obstacles, taking a moment to frown when passing at La Durée, sad that I didn't have time to pick up some macaroons, and then breezing past duty free even more sad that I wasn't going to get bring home some booze. 

I was at gate 59 and had to get to 31. So this race for time continued on for some time...

I arrived at the gate with fifteen minutes before take-off, which in air travel time for an international flight is the very last minute, and I swear the Gods were looking down on me because guess what I heard as I was arriving? My name being announced over the intercom by the gate agent. Rumor at the terminal was that a connecting flight was cancelled, which had freed up 25 seats.

The flight serviced 35 kids who were part of a teen missionary group from Utah, and I was stuffed between four of them. I enjoyed eavesdropping on their adventures and their interactions, especially when they referred to me as the lady drinking the wine, as if I couldn't hear. For some reason them calling me this made them laugh uncontrollably and you know what, I understood why. I remember being a teen and being so easily amused, where almost anything could get me laughing, especially if I thought I was getting one over some lady drinking wine alone. Or maybe I had something in my teeth. I am known for red wine mouth. Either way, they had a good laugh at my expense and I didn't care because I had my wine and Robin Thicke. (Side note: So are you guys loving "Blurred Lines"? For me, it officially replaced "Get Lucky". Just sayin'.)

So, who wasn't exactly impressed with the teen missionaries was a French teenager sitting directly behind me who also was sandwiched between them. In a crisp white button-down, a cardigan tied over his shoulders and perfectly sculpted eyebrows, he tolerated co-existing with his American counterparts. Several times during the flight my seat would jerk forward and would look back to find them passing cookies and scrapbooks, and at one point, to poke and insult each other over the French teen while pushing forward my seat. The French teen practiced his most impressive huffs and puffs while reluctantly succumbing to the cookie pass.

And then, they started to sing. All of them. Albeit gently and softly, I immediately whipped my head around to get first reactions of the French teen. 

He. looked. horrified. 

Watching too extreme cultures respond to each other was the best in-flight entertainment, as I kept leaning forward to get reaction shots. Maybe I still am easily amused... 

Believe it or not, it was one of the easier trips back to New York during high season, and walking through JFK and seeing the big sign that read WELCOME TO NEW YORK...I believed it! Damn, it feels good to be back, now get me to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts.

21 comments:

  1. Dunkin Donuts?! See, to me that doesn't say NYC so much as Boston;)

    Wasn't your mister traveling with you to your hometown? Or will he be joining you in L.A.?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh DD is SO NY! I grew up with family out in Queens and Long Island, so even if I grew up in the city, there was always a Dunkin' run happening. It's a NY fave!

      Aurel just got here a few days ago. I arrived a few days early because he still had work. It was pure chaos for him to get here. There were 70 people trying to get out of Paris flying stand-by! Mayhem, pure mayhem.

      Delete
    2. We have DD on this side of the border too:) But I don't think I've ever seen a larger concentration of them than in Boston' (I think they have 114 stores!)

      Delete
  2. Heh, I think I relived much of my journey to the US last October, albeit, I was just changing flight at CDG ;o)

    On the way back, I had a male Italian student next to me, and behind us were 2 American teens who were flying alone from Salt Lake to Paris and then taking the train to Brussels to meet up with one of their mothers who was there on some kind of business trip. One of the teens had been to Europe, and specifically Paris, before when she was about 10, but the other had never been out of the US, so teen #1 felt the need to give her all sorts of travel advice, especially over the last 45 minutes or so coming into Paris.

    The bit that had both me and my neighbour nearly falling off our seats laughing was when teen #2 looked out the window as we passed over the Ile De France, and a very wealthy village where there were many gardens containing swimming pools and tennis courts. Reporting this back to her friend, she observed that she couldn't see any soccer fields (there were about 3, she just didn't know what she was looking at ;o) ). 'Oh,' says teen #1 knowledgeably, 'Yeah, they don't really play soccer in Europe.'

    I have never queue jumped officially in an airport, but after a train break down left me with 40 mins to check in and get to the gate, I once managed to cut down one side of the security queue at Heathrow simply by pleading my case with the person at the end of the queue snake at that point all the way down. I reckoned that if they were placated, I could just pretend the 100 odd people in between them and the next snake end didn't exist *ahem*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahahahahahaha! I admit, it is entertaining listening in on know-it-alls, especially when the information is wrong. No soccer in Europe?! As if! Too funny!

      What an adventure you had! I'm glad it worked out and you made it out...even if you did cut the line! : P !!

      Delete
  3. Whoohoo! Happy to hear you are "home" in good ol'USA--have some mexican food for me please. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!! It's been so good being back!! I seriously can't stop eating. : )

      Delete
  4. Oh, that's awesome! Have fun!

    And where did those lovely water color illustrations come from?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!!

      The watercolors are from a notebook I bought in Paris many years ago. I didn't the illustrations artist's credit because the back page had been ripped out with the info. If I find out, I'll post it. : )

      Delete
  5. My brother works for an airline so I can fly stand by through him. The first time I tried it, I flew Chicago to Paris. That flight was also oversold and I was the last person seated on the flight, in a middle seat, in economy, by a lap baby. The child was about 1 years old and he obviously didn't like his routine interrupted because he cried and kicked throughout most of the flight. But I didn't care because I was going to Paris on a pass. I couldn't believe my good fortune. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lynn!

      Thanks for commenting!

      Flying to Paris (or out of) on a pass really is such a gamble. Those flights are always packed!! It generally works for me because I took my dad's companion pass after he passed away which means I have a higher ranking, but my husband who had a normal pass was stuck at CDG for two days before we just canned it and bought an Air France ticket!

      I'm glad you got on the flight that time! You're right, even if you have the least ideal seat on the aircraft, you're grateful to at least have gotten on! Good fortune, indeed. : )

      Delete
  6. That song has become our summer soundtrack ... and as we're on a 2500km road trip at the moment, we've listened to it A LOT. Have a great time in the states and a lovely honeymoon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That song is so addicting isn't it?? I keep listening to it...and then start dancing. I can't help it!

      Thank you so much! Can't wait to head out!! Woo hoo!!

      Delete
  7. Are you kidding me? No singing on public transportation! My colleagues are always singing, shhhhhhhhh! Glad you made the flight, have a great trip x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On an 8 hour flight? Hmm, not sure. I had good headphones so I was able to tune them out once the novelty had worn off but the other passengers weren't terribly thrilled about the group sing-along about Jesus. : )

      Thanks! I'm so glad to have gotten on and it's been good to be back! I can't stop eating. There are SO MANY CHOICES in the States...I forgot about that. : )

      Delete
  8. My brother and his friend "sing" this song every time we're getting ourselves into trouble bar-hopping around the city! That is so funny! "ba ba ba ba bap"

    ReplyDelete
  9. You got through in CDG will great ease, that's amazing! Glad you made it on board and didn't have to spend the night in the airport. Now that sucks

    I was reading rather quickly to hear about the "drama"- like the time when you, had to dress in the middle of the airport LOL! I always remember that story, i burst out laughing and read it several times.


    Oh and "Blurred Lines" is my summer jam, when i had a stressful day, i blast it through my phone speakers and the world around me stops...Bliss

    ( ノ^ω^)ノ゚ ヾ(*´∇`)ノ ヾ(・ω・*)ノ(ノ^_^)ノ



    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, finally you got home, that's what matters XD

    ReplyDelete
  11. There is no better way to burn calories than the Airport Walk. I think I'm going to use your 'beat the clock' anthem for my next one :) x

    ReplyDelete