THE MOST TERRIBLE TRIP IN THE WORLD

I hate Air France. And now I hate Paris too. Let me explain.

My day started off Tuesday night, flying out of Philadelphia, bound for Bristol, U.K. via a stopover in Paris. Before we even left the ground in Philly, things got bad. Traffic bad. We sat on the runway for over an hour due to airline congestion. So we were an hour late arriving in Paris. Still, if I hurried, I was assured that I would make my connection on Wednesday (yesterday) morning.

We arrived in Paris, sat on the plane for 45 minutes, then sat on buses for an hour before we arrived in the terminal. By then, my 40-minute connection flight to Bristol had already left, so I was re-booked on another flight from Paris to Bristol at 2 PM the same day. Not that horrible of a thing, I could waste three hours in the Charles de Gaulle International airport pertty easily, and I did just that.

When boarding at 1:25 PM was to commence, we were told to hang on another 20 minutes for technical difficulties. When that 20 minutes passed, we were loaded onto another bus and shuttled to the tarmac where the plane was being prepared to leave. It was surrounded by three tech trucks, a fuel truck and about 15 airline mechanics. The 20 or so of us passengers looked at the two propeller airbus and didn’t have a good feeling, but we loaded onto it anyway and sat there til the repairs were finished.

Two hours later, we were still on the tarmac, waiting in line to taxi. When it was our turn, the pilot recognized some kind of problem with “pressurization” and decided that the plane couldn’t fly. So they took us back to the original spot where we loaded on, gave all of us cans of beer and apologized. Then they loaded us back on the bus, returned us to the terminal, and re-booked our flights again.

This time, we were to leave at 7:30 PM for Amsterdam, then connect to Bristol and arrive in at 10 PM. So we passed another two hours in the airport at Paris. Then something happened. Our flight to Amsterdam disappeared from the schedule, and the gate we were told to go to changed its destination to Rome. So I panicked, then followed the other original Paris to Bristol passengers to someone in charge. They gave us a gate, a plane and even got us on the plane to Amsterdam fairly close to 7:30.

Then it started raining in Paris. And then we got stuck in traffic yet again. But sure enough, we made it into the air. I fell asleep (after missing the previous night’s sleep). Then we arrived in Amsterdam with 10 minutes to run across the airport, get a paper ticket for the next flight to Bristol, rush to another bus and jump on the plane to Bristol. By now, the original Paris to Bristol group had faded down to about seven of us, and those of that group that weren’t able to run decided to stay in Amsterdam for the night and get hookers. I decided to run, and I made the connection.

When I arrived in Bristol, I didn’t know who or what I was supposed to do. I didn’t have an address for customs, but I somehow remembered the old Seventies warehouse address, so I told them that I was on my way to Hastings. Then I got a call from Red Bull. “Take a cab to the ‘Cadbury House’ and get a room. It’s already paid for,” they said. Get in the cab, cab driver gets lost, finds the Cadbury Garden Center, tries to let me out, then eventually finds the hotel.

I get a room, throw my backpack down, get a pint of Stella and pass out trying to watch the Eddie Murphy movie ‘Norbit.’ The room is nice and the bed felt amazing. Altogether, I endured three bouts of airline traffic, two canceled flights, one mechanical failure and from start to finish, a 24-hour journey from Philadelphia to Bristol (when it should’ve been somewhere around eight hours.)

Hopefully the rest of the weekend turns out better for me. Oh, and Air France lost my bag too, so I washed my clothes in the sink with shampoo and used a hair dryer to dry them this morning. I really miss brushing my teeth though. Thanks for nothing Air France….

I’m now sitting by myself and wondering how in the world I’m supposed to get to Devon.

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