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The (Long) Journey to Sweden

December 30, 2009

My journey began the night of Sunday, the 20th of December. I was to fly from Cleveland to Chicago, then on a direct flight to Copenhagen, then on another connection to Gothenburg. Well, I sat in the Cleveland-Hopkins airport for almost five hours as my flight was delayed and delayed. Eventually it came to be delayed three hours, which meant that despite (originally) having a nearly three hour layover in Chicago, I would miss my flight to Denmark.

And so, with anger and tears, I got my bags back, thanked my mom for coming back to the airport to pick me up, and went back home. My dad spent an hour wrangling on the phone with the people at United trying to find the fastest way I could get to Sweden. Unfortunately, it was apparent that if you bought your ticket with air miles they will only be so helpful, even if it is Christmas. If United, Lufthansa, SAS, or any of these airlines would have been a little kinder and bent the rules a little bit to let me on any of the numerous other flights to Denmark or Sweden that were departing, I would have been here MUCH faster. But they refused and put me on this ridiculous route which took twice as long. And I just wanted to call them out on it.

So, dark and early the next morning at around 5am I was off to the airport again (I had only just left it at around 9pm the night before!) and ready to board my 7am flight to Chicago. From there I got off the plane and literally reboarded the same plane twenty minutes later and flew to Washington-Dulles. There I sat for approximately six hours, but at least I was able to use the lounge and get on the internet for a bit and try to waste time by watching a movie on my laptop.

That evening I was back on a plane and off to Amsterdam. I arrived at about 8am (a bit later than scheduled) and went to pick up my bags. I was intended to have a ten hour layover in Amsterdam, and that was something I could not accept. So I had only checked my bags through to Amsterdam and was convinced I would be able to get something earlier out to Copenhagen. I knew that there was an earlier SAS flight to Copenhagen, the exact flight I was supposed to have at 5:15 but just six hours earlier, and they had refused to put me on it but I knew that when I’d left Washington there had been free seats. When I asked at the counter, checking in for my 5:15pm flight at 8am, they told me there were no available seats and I could not fly standby, nor was there any other possible way I could be on that flight. I was pretty furious.

And so I spent the next many, many hours at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, where internet costs 6 Euros for a half hour. What an outrage! The whole airport is like a giant mall where they are trying to get you to drop wads of Euros on anything and everything over the sun. And there are millions of people, it’s a total zoo. Luckily I eventually discovered that I could enter one of the lounges (though even there wifi cost an arm and a leg!) where they offered free wine, beer, alcohol, soft drinks, snacks, etc. This greatly improved my long way as I sat and read and had a few glasses of wine. That is, until I went to my gate at the supposed boarding time of 4:45, only to find that my flight had been delayed an hour. Which later turned into the plane (coming from Denmark, where they’d just had a blizzard, apparently) would “hopefully” arrive at the delay-time of 6:15.

I think the plane eventually arrived at about 6:30 or 6:45. We were probably off the runway around 7:30 or so. An hour later we were FINALLY landing in Copenhagen. I was so thankful I had decided to skip out on my connecting flight to Gothernburg (I would have missed it) but unfortunately that meant Oscar had driven 3 1/2 hours to Copenhagen to pick me up, only to sit around the city for ten hours (in our hopes that I would get the earlier flight). Of course, then, I waited nearly 45 minutes for my bags to come out on the carousel, but finally they did and I was able to run out the customs doors into the arms of my long-lost boyfriend Oscar!

It was a great moment, and it took us a while to make it just the few hundred meters out of the airport because we kept stopping to make sure we were both really there. Unfortunately, we still had what would be a more than four hour drive back to Jönköping due to the snow-covered roads, but at least we were finally together. I was well over a day late, but I was finally here. Although it took a good 32 or so hours to do it (47 if you count from when I first started trying to leave!)

But I’m here!

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