According the to itinerary emailed to me by my OPS officer, our flight on United Airlines was to go out at 1215. Arriving by train at the Frankfurt Airport in what I thought was plenty of time – the flight on the board was listed as 1115. It was now slightly before 1000.
No sweat, thinks I. I am in line at the counter and the line seems to be moving. Getting to the nice young man at the check-in, he informs me that he can see my reservation, but no ticket number against it. Since it was a government purchase, I have to go and talk to SATO. They are over in Terminal 2.
Through the terminal, take the skytrain and go nuts trying to find the window which turns out to the in the far back corner of Section E.
Yes, I am in the computer, no – he can’t issue me the ticket since I don’t have a government credit card. The other alternative is handing over a copy of my orders. We are on this new, electronic DTS system. I had opened the screen for this travel on Friday, printing three sets just in case there was a problem. I pull them out.
The orders say Garmisch. They are orders for a previous trip. Now either I hit the wrong button, or the label in the electronic system is wrong. Either way, I am screwed. Since I don’t have a government credit card – no tickets.
Searching through SABRE, he finally finds another flight out an hour later, but the return comes through Muenchen. Thrilling – it will take me an extra three hours to get home. The ticket is 50E cheaper than what it cost for the rest of the crew. Some saving grace at least. He books me through Lufthansa (which is going to be a challenge later – except for the fact that there is a matching UA number).
By this time, the 1215 flight should be boarded and ready to push back. Leaving a message with that gate agent for the six people whom I was supposed to have met, I manage to get through security and to my own gate just as they are starting to board.
Flight is full. Really full.
Hours later, it is still Sunday. I am wiped, through Immigration and customs with my luggage. There is no one waiting.
Figures. Time to rent a car and head north.
Luck is with me, I slap an audio book into the CD player which happens to work and roll around the DC beltway, up 95 and through the McKinley Tunnel. Taking the Edgewood exit, the hotel is right there.
The rest of the crew has checked in, but I am not going to wait up for them – it is really time to sleep.
Kate Wilhelm – Desperate Measures for the flight and one and a half Salmon stripe socks on the plane.