Traveling to Rome – Day One

The first part of this year’s vacation was time spent in a tin can and two airports, and traveling all the way to North Carolina. The day was a series of failures by American Airlines and Viking Ocean Cruises.

It started off with my daughter driving us to the airport. The Pre Check line was extremely short, with a minor disruption when one of the passengers ahead of us had some metal in their body. Still a much faster security experience than normal security. Thank you Global Entry. And that was the end of the good times.

Arrived at the gates more than an hour before boarding, so off to Ruby Tuesday for lunch. Then we got to the gate about twenty minutes early, standing in line for group six (of nine). There’s a thunderstorm outside, so they say they want us on the plane as fast as possible.

Which didn’t work. Delayed due to the storm and a glitchy external power connection.

screenshot_20180721-144626_american airlines6172102938419626702..jpgWe ended up getting off the plane in Charlotte at 5:15. Enough time to get to the next plane, but so much for our leisurely layover.

My mother was waiting at the gate for the next plane. While waiting, I got to watch repeated advertisements for the Florida Space Coast on the charging station. I’m not sure I was target audience.

Once we got on the plane – I carried my mother’s bag back to her row – they stopped boarding people. After a bit of a delay, they told us there’s a maintenance issue, and asked us to get off the plane for an hour.

Off to the bar we go. For quite a while.

After multiple delays and several hours, AA decided the plane was unsafe, and our flights were rebooked through Chicago, landing nine hours after the scheduled departure of our ship.

screenshot_20180721-230323_american airlines3112358023774459117..jpgSo, time to call Viking to figure out how we’re getting to the ship. After calling multiple numbers and spending at least an hour on the phone, the bottom line is that even though we bought our flight through Viking and even though we bought their insurance, they wouldn’t do anything for us. Nothing. Hardly what we expected from a top tier cruise line.

American Airlines looked it up, and there’s a train from Rome to the next port. So we’ve got to take a train once we get to Rome.

A couple good things from American Airlines. First, as the delays continued, they brought sandwiches drinks, etc. Second, there was a very helpful person at the customer service desk near the gate who worked hard to get my mother, Lisa, and I to fly to Rome together. We can’t fly to Chicago together, but we can be together for the second flight. Assuming we continue on with the cruise (which is still up in the air.)

AA followed it up by leaving our bags in limbo. It took about an hour or so after the flight was bandaged to get to baggage claim, where there were a bunch of people still waiting for their bags. After a while some bags showed up, but ours didn’t.

After threats of a riot, the manager finally decided to figure out where the bags were. It turned out that someone in the baggage department decided that if someone was booked on another flight, even if the flight was more than twelve hours later, they’d just hold on to the bags.

After finally getting our bags, it was off to the hotel. Final decisions to be made in the morning.

One decision we made was to NOT book travel through Viking again. They don’t stand behind their work. Instead, if we’re going in a cruise, fly to the the city a day or so early, making our own booking. Explore the city on our own, and make our own way to the ship. This means we may have to book our way home, too. But it would be better than to miss the boat and find our own way to Barcelona, where our flight home begins.

In fact, we’d book out travel ourselves.  In the long run, we’re going to be much more self contained travelers, so we should be used to making our own reservations to the rest of the world.  After all, we make our own reservations to the rest of the United States.  It would be good for us to practice connecting planes and trains as needed.  Although, if I have my way, planes will be limited once I retire.

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