Monday, May 27th (My last full day in Italy)
At 10:30 am, I turned the data on my phone back on. Before my trip, I had signed up for an $10 a day International plan that would allow me to use my phone as normal for a 24 hour period. I would only be charged if I turned data on or took my phone out of airplane mode. My flight was supposed to leave Milan at 10:30 on Tuesday, so this was perfect.
As soon as I turned on data, Thing One bombed me with pictures of the boys…..
Wow! I didn’t know I could be so homesick. Suddenly getting home was all I could think about. So I started to work on that.
I checked the standby list.
There were 40 seats available. Fingers Crossed!!!!
I purchased my bus ticket to the airport.
The airlines say you should be there 2 hours prior to departure for international travel. I could have purchased a bus ticket with an estimated arrival time of 8:30, but what if the bus was late again like it was when I arrived in Italy? Not taking any chances, I bought the ticket that required me to be at the bus station at 5:40 am even though my flight didn’t leave until 10:30. Ok whatever….
Did I mention I wanted to come home?
I also checked the airport’s website about where to go for wheelchair assistance. Central entrance of departures. Perfect! Tuesday should be a breeze….
Tuesday May 28th
I woke up at 3:00 am. (again with the whole not able to sleep before traveling thing) We left for the bus station at 5:15. I arrived at the airport at 8:30. Yay smooth sailing this time?
When I walked in, I didn’t see any wheelchairs or handicap signs. I had to look for 20 minutes before I found an information desk.
“Can you tell me where to find a wheelchair please? I need some assistance.”
“Yes, go to area C 24”
I’m thinking, “I’m standing at B 5, C 24 is probably very far away…. are you sure?!?!?!”
I still had 3 hours before my flight and could probably stop and rest several times, besides I was going home and could rest there. I started to head to C24. What else was I going to do?
I don’t think I am exaggerating to say that it took me almost an hour to get there. When I arrived at C24, (utterly exhausted, but with no additional broken bones) I received my standby pass and wheel chair assistance was called. When we got to the gate, I was so grateful that I had arrived early because there were maybe 20 seats total for the entire waiting area. AHH…It was very refreshing to hear people speaking English again.
We boarded the plane on time, and I was fortunate enough to have a seat in Economy Plus, which meant extra legroom!!!!!! The guy sitting next to me was very pleasant. I could hear the doors to the plane closing. The pilot came on the intercom and said they were doing final system checks and we should be on our way shortly…… I let out the breath that I didn’t know I was holding. I was going home!!!!!
Well MAYBE we were going home….
A half hour later, the pilot came back on the intercom to say that we were having some small mechanical issues but should be on our way soon. 1/2 hour after that, he said we would be leaving in about 1/2 more, but there would be no internet or electrical service on the plane…f or the entire 9 hours….hmmm ok 😦 Can we just get moving please?!?!?
OF COURSE this all happened after 10:30 so my plan expired.
We finally took off about another 1/2 hour after that. The flight itself was pretty boring, and there was not much turbulence. We “made up” 1/2 hour in the sky. We arrived in NJ at 2:40 pm. Catching my next flight was going to be close, boarding started at 3:25. Could we make it? The young woman pushing the wheelchair was willing to try. Have you ever heard the expression “Drive it like you stole it”? She had and she did! The lines for customs were incredibly long though.
I spent the time waiting, looking for the next flight. There was only one more scheduled to depart at 4:59. There MIGHT be enough time to make that one, but just in case, I began looking for a hotel near the airport. I barely remember going through customs, but I DO remember thinking it strange that I had to retrieve my checked bag, just to go around the corner and recheck it for my next flight. Maybe this has something to do with the ability to charge you with a crime for bringing something illegal into the country? You had to actually bring it in? I will google that later when I am feeling better… I am curious.
As it is, we did not make it to the gate on time. The girl that was navigating the wheelchair explained that she had to “dump me” there anyway, but I could have the agent call for another “helper” when I figured out my next step.
I still had time to make it on the last flight if I could figure out which gate it was actually departing from. (the monitors had changed the information 3x in 30 minutes) After the gate C88 stayed listed for more than 20 minutes I made my way there and found a charging station to plug in my completely drained phone.
At 5:00 I got a text from Thing ONE. “What is going on with your flight? Dad and I are trying to figure out who is picking you up from the airport, but the information keeps changing.” (Einstein had to work in the morning so he would be covering the pre 10pm landing flights, anything after that Thing One would handle unless it got too late, then it was a hotel for me)
She had to repeat this to me 3x, since I didn’t even remember how I got to gate C88. I didn’t remember purchasing the $15.95 chicken salad sandwich that sat in my lap, or the two empty Starbucks coffee cups that sat at my feet. Had I been sleep walking? Is that even possible? I typed the basically the same thing to her 2x also (at least according to the screenshots on my phone)
I talked to the gate agent who assured me that I was in the right spot, and that I would absolutely positively get on this flight. (the flight had been delayed while they were waiting for crew members coming in from Miami.)
Around 7:30, I texted back that the flight crew was here and they did all appear to be “Floridians”, so MAYBE the information I was hearing MIGHT be true? I used language that was a bit harsher, so I will not be sharing that screenshot…. My only excuse was that I was very tired
At 7:45, we boarded the plane. I was in the very last row, but I had the entire row to myself, so I “laid down” and tried to sleep.
Is it any wonder my phone battery is always dead? I mean even without dropping it in the toilet, I am a pretty rough on it.
Passengers were getting angry. Half saying they wanted off the plane, the other half arguing that we should hurry and beat the tornado. Me? I just wanted to sleep…ANYWHERE.
The pilot came back on and said something like “we are going to make a run for it.” The flight crew started rushing around re-locking things down. I tried to text Thing one again hoping she got the message… Im fly…. and we were gone in 5 minutes.
Since I am writing this, you all know that I survived my trip. Although, I had a wonderful time, I am not looking forward to traveling again at the moment.