Monday, July 07, 2008

In Which My Flight is Delayed

My Polish travel-companion and I don't know one another. We just happened to be on the same flight from London to Bishkek, connected with each other by email, and agreed to meet in the London airport before renting a room together in Bishkek. She's part of the Habitat for Humanity group, 20 years old, blonde, and living in Paris as an au pair over the summer. In her last email, she said that she would wear a pink scarf on her wrist so that I would recognize her. I've been on enough blind dates that I wasn't really worried, but I agreed to tie some yellow yarn to my bag so she could find me as well.

My itinerary gave me 3 hours layover in London, which is good because the ticket agent in Minneapolis couldn't give me a boarding pass for the last leg of my trip. "Don't worry," she said. "You'll have plenty of time to figure it out in London." Famous last words, which may or may not have jinxed my flight from Chicago, causing a delay of over two hours in take off, which is how I found myself running through Heathrow, following the maze of walkways and ground transport to Terminal One and a long line at the transfer desk, me at the end of it, and the digital clock in front of me ticking down the minutes to my 1:00 departure. The ticket agents felt no urgency. At one point all but one of them walked away from their computers (Break time? Now?!). The clock said 12:56 when my patience gave out, and I asked the two people in front of me if they might let me go ahead of them. They did, and so I was close to the front of my endless line, when the boarding call for my flight came on ("Passengers to Bishkek, please, report to gate 38 for immediate departure.") Finally a desk agent took my ticket. Finally she (ever so slowly) picked up a phone to hold my flight. Finally she told me to run to gate 38. "But your bags might not be on the flight," she said to my departing back. Cheerio, then.

And so I met Paulina while I was drenched in sweat, seeing her bright pink scarf moments before she warmly embraced me. She was as relieved as I was that we wouldn't be traveling this last, most frightening leg of the journey alone after all. I don't think there's another flight from London to Bishkek for two days. Phew.

After all of that running and panic and worry, I am now (as I write this, not as I type it) back in the calm of an airplane seat, sitting for another 8 hours (on top of the 8 and a half I've already been in the air). It's a good thing I'm practiced in the fine art of sleeping on a plane. I've also already finished my first trashy novel of the trip. Take that, Youngster.

No comments: