Monday, June 20, 2005 6:11:02 PM
The clock time is currently Moscow time - GMT + 4. Sometime after dawn we overflew Ireland and England. I didn't get to see much. I was the last seat on the airplane - and it wasn't a window. My window side rowmate was sleeping and the shades were down, so I didn't disturb him. When we rolled the shades up, about 8 AM local, we were a little over an hour out from Paris. And, we were very soon over the fields and farms of France - completely new land. Ah, gee, ma, it looks just like it does back home. When we get to the airport - Charles DeGaulle, I feel something of the same emotion - it looks just like the news pictures. Of course, this is in part because this trip has been very tiring - I swear everything that can go wrong has, short of an actual crash. Knock on wood when I say that - we are still in the air heading to Moscow. So let me catalog our incidents to date: Inquired what could be done to make visa happen sooner, told all we needed was HIV test. Got HIV test done early. Doctor didn't receive the fax he was supposed to. Nobody told me until I inquired. Requested resend. Got HIV test - sent visa app out. Visa received, but now I am told we need med results too before going over. All pre-reqs rec'v'd, and all systems go. Request and receive res for Thursday. Get our butts up and to airport at ETD -1.25. When I get to counter, the agent cannot find me in system. She checks res printout - flight is for next Thursday. I am without cell phone now, and it is prior to Pasadena office hours. Since I have previously been told that we only use Delta, I go home, as this is the only Delta connex to SVO. I arrive home after walking 2 miles with bags from airporter stop at Dunbarton. Time is 11:15. Two messages on answering machine to call Pasadena. I call Najat - she rebooked on Lufthansa, but there is no way I can get back to airport in time. We agree to resked on Sunday. Sunday we leave more time to get there and all, arr airport ETD - 1.8. Line is just as long as last time but there are many behind me. I get to counter and agent has trouble with checkin. Following the letter on everything. Bicycle bag is oversize, must charge. No problem, I say, and whip out the new Diner's Club. It refuses charge. Ok, we use another cc. No problem so long as we get done and on board. But soon all the people behind me in line have been processed and we aren't finished yet. An agent is asking if anything else is required before she closes this flight, my agent doesn't answer so that she can hear. At the time it appeared to me that she might have, but that she didn't soon becomes clear. They close the flight and my agent is still checking me in. He calls the gate, and the gate refuses me - they have a full flight. So once again I am stuck in SFO without a flight. This time Pasadena will not be open for me to call, and I don't have the 800 number to call 24/7. So, we rebook for the following day. As we leave, I remember that I can use internet to get 800 travel number, and perhaps make other arrangements. We know that we can book on other than Delta. We stop at the SJC airport to find internet connex. Guess what! SJC, of all the places, does not have a wireless hot spot. They only have wired dialup available. I don't have a modem wire. After searching some alternatives, I locate a spare phone cable and hookup. Unfortunately, I can not get an SBC operator to find the dialup numbers that are valid for my home acct. This takes 30-45 minutes dancing with the operators. I give up and fortunately MS has an automatic connex to a list of local ISPs - wonderful. I pick SBC, can't find my account, so buy a new dialup account. My new The speed is so slow both browsers time-out trying to connect to Parsons and Yahoo pages. I am online, silent, unable to accomplish anything, and increasingly frustrated. This eats up another hour or so. I take another tack, and go to the NWA counter to see what they can do for me as non-rev. They can issue a ticket for that day on Airfrance, out of SFO, connecting in Paris. I take it. However, this is still non-rev = standby. I want to make sure that I have exhausted regular channels.
I retry SBC operators. No go there again. I give up on SBC dialup, and sign on for Earthlink dialup. This gives me a bit of a problem intially, but no more than could be considered normal. After these couple of glitches I am online and communicating. I get 800 number. The 24/7 emergency center has no opinion as to whether non-reving is appropriate, and I know I have a flight. However, I do not know the load factors. I decide to return to SFO to get load factors and sked something else if they are bad. By the time we get back it is 2:10 prior to ETD, and it takes 1:30 to get to counter. Flight is closing, and they want me to standby. About 15 minutes prior to departure, I get the last seat on the airplane. Now there is no time to call 800 travel center or company. I give what contact numbers I can to Suzanne to call. It is a 747, and there is no inflight telephone service.
In Paris, they seem to have lost my bags - although this is a false alarm, it takes 20 or 30 minutes to clarify and find the bags. I attempt to call the 800 travel number to cancel the Delta ticket so that Parsons can get the refund. The French telephone system foils me - I can make a credit card call to a toll number, but not to a toll-free number. It is the middle of the fricking night in CA, but I call and wake Suzanne. I ask her to call the 800 travel center for me.