Sunday 3 August 2008

USA: still at the airport


The worst thing about being marooned in an airport is the lack of decent food - unless you count the American-style food court, which I don't. I was getting peckish. The 'last and final' call for Oman Air 865 was announced several times by an increasingly frantic airline rep.

Two hours later than scheduled, we departed.

We thumped onto a soggy Heathrow runway with only four hours in London due the earlier delays. Another nine-hour flight later we arrived in Chicago. Unfortunately my bag did not. 'You have to register the loss at your final destination, sir,' the grumpy man stated at the carousel.

Inside the terminal, it was clear there was trouble ahead as the scene was reminiscent of a hurricane shelter. After 'special treatment' in security, I rushed to the gate and fought my way to the appropriate desk. The flight was in an 'over-assignment situation' - I would have to wait for a seat allocation. Mysteriously, the plane then suffered from a mechanical problem forcing a couple of hundred passengers to canter to another gate where I still didn't have an assigned seat. Eventually, the nice lady at the desk responded to my Bambi eyes and gave me what was probably the last seat on the plane.

Four hours later I was standing at the American Airways desk in San Diego with the feeling I was the being blamed for the bag loss. 'Where did you last see your bag?' asked the lady as she tapped away at the keyboard with 5cm fingernails. I was doomed. 'Muscat in Oman' I replied, although I was thinking 'the planet Jupiter' stood a better chance of getting a response. I was right. I took a risk and gave her the airport code - it worked. I came away with a reassuring piece of scrappy paper covered in 1970's dot matrix lettering.

I eventually reached the hotel after travelling for 38 hours. I had no clothes and my phone was out of juice. Could have been worse I suppose. I had no idea what day it was. I needed sleep.

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