How not to end a vacation
This is supposed to be the wrap up post about Budapest and sage observations about the trip in general. I’ll get to that, probably.
For now I have to talk about the dumbest thing I’ve done ages.
I was all proud of myself. It took me months of incessant calling to American Airlines to get a decent flight home, but I had finally succeeded. So yesterday, I opened the AA app on my phone and there it was: 12:15 LHR. We even got to sleep in and get to the airport about 10 for our flight.
But when we got to the terminal, there was no flight listed at 12:15. Uh oh.
It took a while, but I finally got it through my head that what I had seen was our flight FROM Heathrow, not the flight TO Heathrow. And we most certainly were not going to be in London at departure time.
This was not good. Not good at all.
Still, I had to do something. We had to get home, couldn’t just decide to live in Budapest for the rest of our lives. (Although Gail would have been happy to leave me there.)
First things first, I got us on the next flight to London. This entailed wandering around the airport trying to find a British Airways office, which doesn’t exist. Finally, somebody pointed me to an office that represented them, and I got some help.
Then I called American, who said it would be 20 to 30 minutes on hold (at international rates) or they would call me back. Indeed they did call me back, and after some very smooth talking I got us on a flight to New York today, and a flight home in the morning. A message to Beth, the Travel Goddess, and we had a room at the Hampton Inn–overpriced, but that’s New York.
At Heathrow, we made our connection with seconds to spare, and that’s only because I stopped a guy with an electric cart and got him to drive us to our gate. We invariably get the very last gate, and I think we would still be walking if he hadn’t come along.
Arriving at JFK, Global Entry got us through immigration in a trice, then the baggage was, as you might well imagine, the last to come off the carousel. There are many signs and constant announcements that you may not use your phone or camera in the customs area–and virtually every person I saw was on the phone. They probably ought to re-think their position on that.
I know that I’m a cheapskate, but the luggage carts that are free in Dallas and San Francisco and Paris are SIX DOLLARS at JFK. That’s outrageous, so we looked like the Joad family trudging our luggage out to the taxi. That may not have been my best decision of the day, Mrs. Joad was not amused.
We got a taxi driver who had never heard of the Hampton Inn, couldn’t use his GPS, didn’t speak English well and had a car so poorly maintained that I kept asking if he had his headlights on. A question he didn’t quite understand: he turned on the overhead light in the car. I navigated us there with my phone.
But we’re here. For 10 hours or so, then an 8 am flight home.
Gail will speak to me again someday, I hope.
And that’s what I did on my summer vacation.