I suppose if you travel to Ireland you should expect Murphy to take a hand but really I think he has overstepped his bounds on this one. I arrived at the Medford, Oregon airport at 5:30 AM in plenty of time for my 7AM flight. I had TSA Pre check so I sailed through security and didn’t even have to take my laptop out of my bag. I was happily settled in at the gate by 5:45, gotta love Rogue Valley “International” Airport. Came time to be boarding and the announcement came that due to fog in San Francisco our departure would be delayed by 2 ½ hours. That meant I would miss my connection to Chicago and hence the flight to Dublin.
I patiently awaited my turn with the gate agent who finally called me up about 8 and rebooked me on a flight to Dublin through Newark. At least I would only be 2 hours late. I emailed Road Scholar and they said no worries I would still be able to travel with the group to Belfast.
So, I get to San Francisco and go to the board to find the gate for my flight to Newark only to see that that flight has been delayed two hours due to an equipment delay. Now I will miss my connection to Dublin in Newark. I found the United customer service desk and they said all the flights to Dublin were full and the only way they could get me to Dublin the next day was through London-Heathrow. Not my favorite airport but OK, whatever works. They took the description of my bag but did not issue me a new claim check. I should have known then there would be trouble. But, hey, I’m an optimist.
So, I grab some lunch and find the gate for the London flight which boards smoothly and on time. Sitting on the plane the time ticks by and it is now 20 minutes past our departure time when the pilot comes over the loud speaker saying, “You may have noticed the mechanics out the right side of the plane” (I was on the left). So, we sat and waited for the mechanics to do their thing all the while getting hotter and hotter because the air conditioning is also not working. So, two hours later, the air conditioning and the right engine are fixed and we are on our way. I’m pretty sure I am going to miss my connection to Dublin but figured they should have more frequent flights from there than the U.S. I was lucky my seat mates decided to stretch out in empty seats in the middle and I at least had the row to myself though finding a comfortable position to sleep on the 10 hour flight still eluded me.
Of course, I was right, I missed my connection to Dublin by 20 minutes. United says don’t worry, we will have already booked you on the next flight just go to Aer Lingus and talk to them. Right. Bald faced lie. After negotiating the maze that is Heathrow, another trip through security (no TSA Pre here but at least you don’t have to take your shoes off in Europe) and a stop in customs I find my way to the gate of the flight I think I am booked on and there is no gate agent as there would be in the U.S., only people taking tickets and they are already starting to board. I rush back to the main lobby which looks more like a shopping mall complete with and orange wire taxi installation and I can’t find the service desk anywhere. So, I go back to the gate and get in line and tell the ticket agent my sad tale of woe and she just says, no, you are not booked on this flight go back to the service desk and talk to them. Well, I am afraid earned some bad Karma with that woman but eventually set out to find the service desk which it turned out was tucked away in a little corner of the shopping mall. By this time the 9:50 flight is gone, the 10:55 flight is full and I am booked on the 12:00 flight.
So, I suck it up and email Road Scholar my new itinerary and they say don’t worry, someone will be there to meet you. To my chagrin the same agent was taking tickets for the 12:00 flight. She worked out some of the bad karma then and there. I’d had time to mellow and just let it roll off.
I got to Dublin and negotiated customs again and went to the bag claim thinking this is where I will be met but no one comes looking for me and my bag never comes down the chute. So, I go to Aer Lingus and report my bag missing and they say, yeah, it’s probably in Newark and I say, yeah, that’s what I think too. But apparently there is only one flight a day from Newark to Dublin. And of course when and if it arrives it will be at United not Aer Lingus.
So, I go on out and keep looking for someone holding a Road Scholar sign. Finally, I see a man holding a sign with my name on it. He says he was about to send out a search party but he was not allowed to go inside. So, I follow him out to the parking garage and try to get the in the passenger side of the front seat but there is a steering wheel there. Seamus (really, that was his name, he was very nice) politely reminded me that they drive on the wrong side of the road here. So, he drives me to Belfast and we have a lovely talk about Donald Trump and Brexit and the future of Northern Ireland. I have now connected with my group and shopped for a toothbrush and comb. Note to self: always have a change of underwear in your carry on bag.
Hoping and praying my bag will catch up with me tomorrow. I went to bed at 8:30 pm and slept like the dead for four hours. It is now 3:30am and I am writing this when I should be sleeping but according to my laptop which is still on Pacific Daylight Time, it is only 7:37pm so I expect I will fall asleep again about the time I should be getting up and putting on my dirty clothes to go down to breakfast.
Well my electrical adaptor is also in my checked bag and my laptop battery is now down to half charge so I’ll sign off for now. Hoping to have pictures and better news tomorrow.