Everything Will Be Fixed

I have returned from a lengthy period “abroad” (or “at wide”, if you like). We spent some time in Venice, in connection with both the big ol’ Biennale and also in connection with sitting in piazze in the piping hot sun and drinking granita. We also made it over to Portugal, hitting Cascais and Lisbon – both very pleasant places. Had the best custard tart in the universe in Belém.

Yes, nice nice nice, and then there’s Air Iberia.

I’d never actually been in one of those nightmare travel scenarios where everything’s going wrong and you feel like you’re in an episode of that show Airport. But now I have been there. Over the course of our travels, Air Iberia managed to delay three of our flights, causing us to miss three connecting flights.

The coup de grace was in getting back to Copenhagen. In brief. Lisbon-Madrid was delayed, so we missed our connection to Copenhagen. They made us wait hours then re-routed us to Frankfurt. The plane to Frankfurt had to circle, ran out of fuel, and had to land in Cologne. Then we weren’t allowed off the plane because it was an unscheduled landing, so they refueled (after a while) and flew back to Frankfurt. Literally no one was at Frankfurt to tell us what we were meant to do next, so we waited for our luggage (which didn’t come), talked to the luggage guy (who told us to go elsewhere), and eventually (after a long while) ended up being put in the airport hotel with others heading our way. I ate tomato soup with two Brazilian Scientologists and a Dane. This morning we went to the airport where they told us they had lost our bags, so we flew to Copenhagen and filed a form. Amazingly, they found them and even as I write we await their delivery.

Throughout the experience I was constantly wondering to what extent it “measured up” to proper airline misery. Just how epic was our particular trudge through the skies? I’d sit there on a plane, listening to the baby screaming in its falsetto, the larger lady blowing her nose for minutes at a time, and ponder what this moment was really like. Sometimes I imagine myself getting a phone call in which the voice on the other end simply intones, “You are having the authentic experience.” I received no such call during our trip, though I waited for it.

In the end we made it back and the memories of the 30 plus hours spent in plane world are already receding. But for a while there, standing slightly outside myself as I involuntarily do with some frequency, I was pleased to observe myself authentically suffering through such a ridiculous comedy of errors, complete with a plane full of Spaniards expressing their deep disapproval at the nth delay and the optimistic flight attendant announcing that “everything will be fixed”, just before we ran out of fuel.

Remember: don’t fly Iberia.

10 June 2011
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