Monday, October 29, 2007

Arrived, but what a trip

Air France flight crew personnel were on strike in Paris on Saturday and Sunday. The scene at the airport on Saturday afternoon when I arrived was chaotic. It took me nearly two hours to get from the RER station to my hotel by shuttle. And it was only a two-mile ride.

On Sunday, the Air France terminal was a mob scene. There were literally thousands of people waiting for the airline staff to tell them whether or not their flight was actually going to depart and to let them check their bags. My friend Marie and I stood in a crowd from about 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. We finally boarded the flight at 3:30, but then we didn't take off until 6:00.

As we stood in line to check bags, an Air France employee came by and asked for U.S. residents to make themselves known. I raised my hand and she said I could go to the head of the line, and then I remembered and said that I actually resided in France. She said it didn't matter, that I should go to the front of the line anyway.

Then I told her that my friend who was traveling with me had a French passport. She leaned over and told me very quietly just to tell the screeners that Marie was my wife. That's what I did. I asked her why Americans were getting special treatment, and she said it was because not everybody would fit on the plane and they wanted Americans returning home to get on first. French people who got bumped would just be told to go back home, unless they lived very far from the airport.

Our plane was not full. Walt says he heard on the news that because some members of the flight attendant crews were out on strike, they couldn't accommodate all the passengers that the plane would normally hold. So there were many empty seats on our plane.

The upshot of it all was that after a day of wondering whether we would actually be able to come to the U.S. at all, we finally arrived in Atlanta four hours later than scheduled. But we made it, and our friends were at the Atlanta airport to meet us.


ConnMc said...

Welcome to the USA, glad you were able to get you and Marie to the front of the line!!!!

Anonymous said...

Glad you made it safe and sound. Regards to Marie. CHM

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the update. It was a mutually beneficial relationship ... you and Marie, I mean. If you have to wait in a crowd, good to have someone to talk to and make the time pass a little faster. Then, she benefitted from being your "wife-for-10-minutes" to get on the plane!

Enjoy your trip!

Anonymous said...

I hope this experience doesn't turn you off frequent trips back to the States. Will give you a call Sunday morning-ish before we leave. Shall I pick up some Wilburs BBQ on the way down? - Monet

Claude said...

When I heard about the strike, I thought of you! Hope when you get back, everything will be in order!

Anonymous said...

Bonsoir Ken, hi ConnMc, CHM and Cheryl :-) !

I'm back home and not too jet-lagged though I was unable to sleep on the Delta plane (which arrived on time, lol !) Yet, I could sleep for 4 hours at my son's apartment in Paris, ouf/phew !

What a good time we had together in Alabama ! And how lucky we were when we eventually boarded the plane after waiting for it in Paris ! My neighbours had to drive back to Rouen since their flight to Mexico had been cancelled... On a eu de la veine, Ken ;-) !!! I haven't kept many memories of the wedding, lol, but the "result" was great :-) !!! Bises. Marie