Back in February this year I received a letter from a US university I had applyied for years ago. They offered me the possibility of doing a post-graduate in chemistry program in Chicago. They told me to go there anytime in march to do and interview and show me the university and its installations. I'm,like most of you, crazy for aviation, so when I was offered a roundtrip to ORD free I couldn't say no. The one & only problem that I had was that during that period I had only three days free, from march 5th (sat) to the 7th(mon).
The result was that i was leaving BCN on the 5th very early morning
(06:20) to connect in AMS with the KL 611 to ORD which departed at 10:40 and arrived at ORD at 12:40. the return trip was on sunday afternoon KL 612.
I actually live at 1h-drive from bcn, and I didn't want to bother my family on driving me to the airport at such hours; however BCN airport is very bad linked at those hours, even from BCN city itself. So on Friday night I called some friends and we went to supper, cinema...etc to make time. At 3am i took a taxi that took me the airport.
One hour later the KLM check-in counter opened and I proceded to check-in and get my boarding card. There I made the error that would spoil my trip. I was only carring my laptop and a little trolley, and I checked-in the trolley.
Once I both my boarding cards and pass through security...easy at those hours, I went to have sth to eat. Boarding was at 5:50Am so i had plenty of time. Moments later I realise that the flight is 30 min delayed...no problem, a little bit of patience...But then my worst fears come true and my flight is delayed indefinitly because of the big snowstorm that has closed AMS.
The airport was beggining to wake up at that moment, and my fellow passengers and I were beginning to fell asleep...then a man who had to connect to nairobi and I approached one of KLM employers in BCN to ask her if she could tell us whether our flight from AMS was delayed, cancelled or had flown away yet. She told us very kindly that all flights were delayed, because all the early morning flights from europe cities providing passengers to long-haul flights were grounded as ours was.
At that moment I could have asked her to have my bag back and go home, but I decided to take the adventure and go to AMS.
Finally my flight took off at 11:30, and 2h&half later we landed in an awesome and snowed Schipol!
I went out the B738 as quickly as I could and run to the G-Pier, where KL611 should be. As I was running trhough the crowds I noticed that my flight wasn't being shown on the screens...I saw a B744 at my gate, good sign..but it was going to Delhi!
Then I realised I had Lost my flight and went to one of the 9 transit desk areas that Schipol has (SCHIPOL IS A GREAT AIRPORT). Then I found that thousands of people, and I mean thousands, had the same problem that I had. All the transit desk areas where very very crowded. I ended up doing a 3h queue, where I met great people.
When it was my turn I told the Duch beauty I had in front all my story, and that if she could make me arrive at ORD that day it was ok. If not, I wanted to get back home and sleep a little bit.
She told me I could be booked on NW55 to MSP,and then take a connecting flight to ORD. At that point I only said "yes, thank-you" and didn't care that the flight in question was leaving in 10minutes!
So start running another time to Gate E-5 where the NW1224 ship (DC-10) was standing. I passed the security (you know, telling that I hadn't any bomb, that I had packed my baggage...etc) and boarded the plane. At that moment I feel proud of sitting in a window seat of a DC-10 as it also was the first plane that I flew, back in 1985 with only 2 years.That time it was Iberia.
5 minutes later the captain voice echoed all over the cabin to tell us that there was a problem with one of the navigation radios, and they where going to fix it, which would take 30 min aprox. It turned out to be only 15 minutes and when we were about to pushback the captain appeared again to tell us that the load on the plane was bad configured and that we would have to wait until some containers where unloaded. "Don't worry, your baggage will be untouched" he added.
That phrase made me think...If I had nearly miss that flight, it was sure that my poor trolley was not under me in the cargo deck, wasn’t it?
Anyway, I had a very pleasant and smooth ride in that old bird, followed by a very smooth landing in MSP. There we were told that those who had been rebooked from a KLM flight would have our baggage at our final destination…a little piece of hope.
One of the best moments of the weekend was then, when I asked to visit the cockpit and the captain accepted joyfully. He explained me everything he could and took a photo of me in the left seat!
Then I passed through security and went to the walk a little inside the terminal. I saw nothing more than NWA planes, 753, 320, 319, DC-10…great airline and great livery.
It was 9:00pm in MSP when I boarded the old DC-9 that would fly me to ORD. Nearly empty plane, no more than 20pax, we were de-iced before taxiing. 45 minutes later we were landing in ORD. Then I headed directly to baggage belts to ensure that my trolley was not there…what a nightmare! At that moment I had had more than 30 hours without sleeping a minute, with the same winter heavy clothes, and I had no baggage! I went to NWA lost&founds and they told me that my bag was in AMS, that they would fly it to ORD tomorrow or the day after…”but I’m coming back tomorrow, that’s the problem” I said. Then the old NWA agent asked me in a rough way “So what are you doing in the states?” Then I could not do nothing more than answering in the same roughly way…sorry…”You have nothing to do with that, and I should have been here by 12am, now its 23:00 and I don’t have my baggge, I have no clothes, I have nothing! That’s what matters now” Sorry for that, I was possessed by my own exhaustion and anger. I hope I could meet another time that agent. Finally she game me a little bag with a toothbrush, soap etc..and told me that my bag was going to be ferried on KL 611 the next day and it wouldn’t be unloaded.
I had a reservation at the Chicago O’hare Hilton, here you have some photos from my window, great hotel.
Next morning I could go very very early to the university and in a world record time I manage to do all what I had to do. Then I had to go and check-out the hotel, and to talk to the KLM supervisor there in ORD to ensure where my bag was.
When I arrived at the airport the agent was very friendly and comprehensive with my situation, she told me that she would personally make sure the bag was in the plane. After that I checked-in and I realised with surprise that she had given me a World Business class Boarding card…which is what I really needed at that moment. Thank you wherever you are!!!!!!
I walked to do some quick spotting from the terminal where I could see AA 772, AF 332, LH343 SAS 333, BA 772…
Then I went to enjoy the business lounge and when I boarded the plane, KL 744 PH-BFK “City of Karachi” I wait till we took off and the immediately went to sleep.
When I woke up I had a very good breakfast prior to land in AMS at 6:30AM.
Once there I went directly to the transit desk to see If they could put me in a flight to BCN earlier, cause I had to wait till 16:00 to get mine... I didn’t notice it when I made the booking. She told that she couldn’t cause I had one bag checked-in…I HATED THE WORD BAG!
But Which airport is better than AMS to walk around? Here you have some of the results!
When I arrived to BCN my bag was there, plenty of sticks in it…what a different and usual trip we had had! But you know….I would repeat!
PD I don't know how to post the pictures...they are not on the web...how can I link them, they are in a folder in my pc?