As if leaving Copenhagen were not enough of a reason to be emotional, add on the worst travel experience possible and you end up with a sweaty, tear stained, lunatic- aka me circa Sunday between the times of 3:00-5:15.
Let me lay out the scene for you:
The trip to the Copenhagen airport took much longer than expected as the cobblestones and my hefty baggage proved difficult to maneuver to the metro. Finally- we arrived and checked it. $120 later my bags were tagged and sent off to the beautiful US of A. Little did I know going through customs to get onto the plane would take so long and I made it, thankfully, onto the plane with 10 minutes to spare. Now all that was left to do was to sit and try to relax because PRAISE THE LORD I WAS COMING HOME!!
The whole plane ride I couldn’t shake the nauseated feeling that something was wrong.. My boarding pass I printed in CPH only said Washington, DC. No mention of Charlotte… “they’ll give me my boarding pass at the transfer desk” I reassured myself as I attempted to enjoy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
The time crept slowly by… 7 hours until destination. 6 hours until destination. 4.5 hours until destination. I couldn’t sleep. I felt sick. And there was not a thing I could do about it until I landed and had phone service. “Everything will be okay. You’ll be in the States and it’ll all be good.” … HA!
After reading an entire book, watching the first half of Saving Mr. Banks, and pretending to enjoy the repulsive airplane food… We finally landed.
As soon as I could, I flipped on my phone and attempted to text my mom. Not working. “Hmm must just be bad service. I’ll try again later.”
I was already cutting it close and hoped that I would be escorted through a fast track line so that I could make my connecting flight to Charlotte and be on the way home. NOPE. I was sent through local customs and was told that I had to RECHECK MY BAGS at the United Desk.
(My CPH flight landed at 3:00… My CLT flight took off at 5:19)
It’s 4:00 and I JUST made it through customs.
PANICK stricken I stumble my way with my enormous bags to the United desk where GUESS WHAT? No one assists me. My reference number is not recognized and I cannot print my boarding pass. After being yelled at, and helping an idiot woman print her own boarding pass after three failed attempts, I am finally assisted. $100 later I am paying for my extra bag because no, that payment I made in CPH did not transfer to DC. I think that’s it but NO! “I’m sorry ma’am you’re going to need to remove 5 pounds from this bag otherwise you will have to pay $100 extra dollars…” Impossible. Absolutely impossible. Everything is stuffed to the brim there is absolutely no way this is happening. Tears streaming down my face, I fling my belongings around the room and finally readjust and am headed through security.
I am a mess. I am sweaty as hell. I am crying. I am on the verge of passing out. It’s 4:20 and I am positive I am going to miss my flight.
Looking back on it, I know I looked like a schizophrenic fool muttering to myself under my breath “DEAR LORD” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME” etc. And frantically searching through my bags for my passport which I either threw away or left at the United counter. I’m sure I made several people uneasy….
One security guard asks me what’s wrong and I tell him, without taking a breath between my words, that I am late for my flight and I am going to miss it and I CANNOT miss it, I have to get home.
I am escorted into the express lane and think that things are FINALLY okay and I start to relax… I walk through the Xray machine and the woman guard says “ma’am just step aside, someone will be here to assist you.”
I thought “HOW NICE! They’re going to get one of those cart things to speedily take me to my gate. They saw how upset I was and they’re going to help this poor little crying girl get home.”
Boy was I mistaken….
“Ma’am you have been randomly selected for an extensive search please follow me.”
WHAT. I immediately burst into sobs. I just knew I was never getting home. Convulsing with tears, I am groped by this wormy little androgynous person in front of everyone in security. Bawling my eyes out as I just know that I am never going to make it home, they wipe down every inch of my belongings- even my innocent little Life is Good monkey, Maurice. My phone still has NO service so I won’t be able to contact my parents and I just know I am going straight to airport jail for acting like a crazy person. FANTASTIC.
It’s 4:50 when I am finally released (boarding started at 4:55) and I SPRINT to the train to take me to my gate. I run like I have never run before, tearing my boarding pass in half, and frantically making it to the gate at 5:10.. “You sure are cutting it close miss.” Astute observation, gate man. I run, heavy breathing, onto the plane and sit down- completely exasperated.
“Oh darlin, did you have to run here?” The sweetest southern voice sitting next to me says. “Yes ma’am, you have no idea the time I just had….”
Several deep breaths and a round of lunatic chuckles to myself later, I was up in the air listening to James Taylor serenade me about my beloved Carolina…. I was going home.
I get off the plane in Charlotte and head towards baggage. At this point I smell so bad and I am so exhausted that I am walking like a zombie towards the exit. I turn the corner to head down some stairs and I see my perfect little family at the bottom with the biggest grins and a sign that read “welcome home sister!!” I’ve never run so fast down a flight of stairs in my life. I collapsed into their arms, sobbed (this time happy tears), and all was right with the world.