Friday, January 28, 2011

There's no place like home...

After four (miserable) days in Budapest, we were finally going home! Caught the airport shuttle, arrived with plenty of time to get checked in. Flight on schedule. My heart soared.

Half an hour later, Beloved Husband asked, "So... why haven't they announced any flights?"

I glanced around and shrugged. "Maybe they're just clustered together."

Beloved Husband got up to look at the departure board. He scowled and returned to his seat.

"We're delayed by an hour. All incoming flights from Germany are delayed."


Great. So the big snowstorm they'd predicted on the day we were supposed to leave didn't materialize, but the one they'd predicted for our return did. My mind raced... We were going to be stuck here, I just knew it. In the airport. Overnight. With two young kids and nowhere near enough diapers for the youngest. Dear God, why hadn't we stayed home?

We checked the departure schedule every five minutes after that, but the new time held. Our plane arrived, and we were ready to board. Except for one small problem.

"Final boarding call for flight... to Milan." This was the twelfth final call, and we quickly learned that they were planning to hold the plane for the TEN people who had not yet boarded. At our gate. And we would have to wait, too.

After about 20 minutes, someone had the bright idea to open a new gate so we could actually get on our plane. We were finally on our way, long after we were supposed to have landed in Berlin.

The flight is about an hour and 20 minutes. After 2.5 hours, I started to wonder what was going on. Eventually, the pilot came on to tell us that the airport wasn't allowing any planes to land. We would continue circling and see what happened.

Ten minutes later: "We will be landing at Schönefeld. Tegel still isn't accepting any planes. We're going to cut our losses and get on the ground." Good thing we hadn't left a car at the airport!

Within minutes, the landing lights on the wings came on and the landing gear went down.

"Wow, that was a smooth landing!" my mother-in-law said.

"We didn't land yet." I pointed out the window, where a blizzard obscured the end of the wing. "I sincerely hope it doesn't look like that when we're on the ground."

And then we landed! Everyone on the plane cheered. We taxied a short distance and stopped.

"Look outside," my mother-in-law said. It looked exactly like it had when we were in the air.

"We have to wait for a 'follow me' car--I don't know where they want us," the pilot explained. Outside the window was nothing but white. No sign of anything, including the airport terminal. The follow-me car parked us right there, in the middle of who knew where.

"Well, at least we're back in the city," I said, looking at the bright side.

"We have to wait for a bus to come get us," the flight attendant announced. "At least fifteen minutes." People stopped putting on coats and sat back down. Fifteen minutes later a small car pulled up and a woman came on board.

"There are several planes that had to land here," she explained, "and we don't have many buses. It will be at least 40 minutes before a bus can come get you." The flight attendants immediately brought out food and wine to prevent a riot.

Just as they finished serving our row, someone said, "The bus is here!"

Crap! I was holding a full glass of wine in one hand, with no place to put it because I had to put the seat tray up to get Snuggle Monkey. So I chugged it. We carried the boys down the steps, through about ten inches of snow, and onto the bus. We'd made it. We were officially back in Berlin.

Rrrrrrrr! The bus lurched a few inches forward. Pause. Rrrrrrr! Another lurch. Giggles and guffaws came from all around us. Again and again, the driver tried to get us going, but the snow was too deep. Then he tried backing up. Rrrrrrrrrr! Nothing.

"Would everyone please move to the back of the bus?" More laughter as everyone crammed together in the back half of the bus (good thing we'd been on a small plane). That did it. We started to move.

And then we were in the terminal. The cold air clung to us, and we wondered whether we would get our luggage, or if it would be left out there in the middle of the snow field until the plows had cleaned things up.

"Take the boys home," Beloved Husband said to my mother-in-law and me. "I'll wait here either for the luggage or to fill out lost luggage forms." Brilliant idea!

We led the boys outside, through the snow, in search of a taxi. Found one, got everyone buckled in and followed four plows home on the Autobahn. It took forever. Oh, and we had to pay for a second taxi, yet again. But we were home!

What do you think? Fact or fiction?
Last week's story? Fiction based on fact. Snuggle Monkey did not plunge us into darkness; the rest was true.


  1. There's really no place like home is there? Home sweet home...

  2. This sounds so horrendously realistic, down to the glass of wine, that it must be true!

  3. I got last week's wrong, but I'm going to go with fact again. Maybe you are just too convincing a writer!

  4. Grandpa: home sweet home is right!

    Toby: Didn't you say the same thing about the taxi scene?

    Megan: You are too kind, my dear.

  5. Hey, you can't make up airport snafus like that! Fact. Including the wine chugging.

  6. I'm going to follow the crowd and go with fact-- but actually, there's not a lot of airplane-related drama that I wouldn't believe.

  7. I'm going with fiction this time. At least I hope so for your sake. What an ordeal!