I always thought Bogota’s Eldorado Airport was horrible. Long lines, funny smells, chaos and suitcases dropped onto my feet. However, there’s something even worse than the chaos…it’s the contagion. Last time I flew out of Dulles, it was Bogota all over again. We’ve been infected! Here is a rundown of my festival of fun at Dulles last Sunday.
Flight Time: 5:45 pm
2:45 pm: Arrive at airport (three hours early!)
2:50 pm: Drag luggage to United counter, look desperately for airline employee so I know what line to stand in.
2:55 pm: Locate employee. Notice that employee is trying desperately to blend into the crowd as to avoid my questions. Discover that my destination is “Line 6”.
3:10 pm: Locate Line 6. Join a merry band of 433 new best friends, waiting for assistance from 3 ticket agents.
3:10 pm-4:30 pm: Stand in Line 6. Glance at watch. Move forward six inches. Glance at watch. Worry. Glance at watch. Sweat.
4:30 pm: United employee pulls everyone going to Munich out of Line 6…and moves us to an even longer line. Place head on suitcase. Weep.
4:45 pm: Finally check in. Discover my bag is 12 pounds over the weight limit. Gate agent requests $315 in fees for overweight bag. I remove precisely 12 pounds of stuff from Target from my bag (I’ve always wanted construction paper, hair dye, and glue sticks in my carryon!).
4:55 pm: Drop off bags with TSA agent, who tells me to “go to the left, no wait.”
5:00 pm: Go to left. Wait.
5:05 pm: Reach beginning of security line. Ask agent, “Will I make my plane, or am I kidding myself?” Response cannot be printed on family website.
5:10 pm: Befriend man in line behind me, who is also traveling to Munich. We compare incompetent United employee tales.
5:30 pm: My new friend and I finally get screened. My new friend walks up, and promptly removes his artificial foot and tosses it in a bin with a clatter. Awesome.
5:35 pm: We’re now very concerned about catching our flight, so my friend decides there isn’t sufficient time to fully strap on his foot. We half-run, half-hobble to the people movers. Meanwhile, Velcro foot-straps and my Target art supplies stream behind us.
5:37 pm-5:42 pm: Run, hobble, run. Reach gate. Realize my ticket does not have a seat assignment. Picture myself being pulled behind the plane in a little red wagon.
5:43 pm: Receive seat assignment (“Seat #1896A”)
5:44 pm: Board plane. Watch door shut behind me.
7:15 pm: Plane takes off. They’d discovered the luggage had been loaded improperly, so we had to wait for the entire plane to be reloaded. (I’m picturing all the weight on one side of the plane, forcing us to fly in circles.)
I haven’t even discussed the rowdy teenage basketball team, the batty Italian who wanted 8 different people to move to accommodate her boyfriend, the bouncing lasagna (I have the charming habit of testing airplane food to see if it bounces – which it often does!), or the fact that United seats are so cramped that I spent the entire flight with my knees jammed under my chin (I’m only 5’2”!). I bet business schools all over the world are studying how United sucks all the fun out of travel.