The Trip Home
was not as pleasant as the trip over. Partly my fault, partly weather…
It had been snowing in DC all morning long before we left for the airport, after lunch. We all know how I feel about snow. But I was very brave and drove the 2 blocks that I needed to, to turn in the rental car. Here is Ben sitting in the hotel lobby after we turned in the rental car. We were waiting for the shuttle to pick us up and take us to the airport. This is mere minutes before I realized that I had left our two largest suitcases in the back of the rental car. Oh yeah, 50 plus days of hauling 4 suitcases and innumerable bags of belongings in and out of places and making sure I had them all, I got distracted and left 2 in the rental car. It was my worst nightmare come true. Even more so for the woman sharing the shuttle with us. I was almost in tears I felt so bad. But we finally got the cases back and were on the way.
To our next obstacle. For some reason Air France decided to be really, really fussy about the weight of carry-on luggage. I had already paid $160 for 2 extra bags. I had carefully packed so that 3 of the 4 checked suitcases were right at the weight limit. One, the smallest case was under weight. It was the carry-ons. If we could not get the weight of the carry-ons reduced we would have to check one and pay another $80. Of course the carry-ons had Ben’s laptop and tablet, my tablet, Ben’s machine which he uses at night to help with breathing and our drug supply. (all over the counter or prescription) I spent 45 minutes pulling stuff out of the checked bags, packing, weighing, repacking, weighing, repeat, repeat, repeat. Finally after pitching a few food items and putting on some extra clothing we were okay.
On to our next obstacle. Getting on the plane. The whole plane load of folks are all sitting and waiting when Air France decides that there are probably too many pieces of carry-on luggage. Some of it has to be checked. Which they will now do for free. My first thought was ‘ten minutes ago at check-in if I had been forced to pay $80 to check one of these carry-on bags and now I hear that the airline is taking them for free…’ And then I thought, ‘wait a minute, I just spent all that time, ditched stuff and still you are taking one of my carry-on bags away….’ The reason that we were so glued to our carry-ons is because on every other trip we have ever taken on Air France, changing in Paris, our luggage does not follow us on to our next plane. Oh, it makes to us eventually, but not without a few hours to days delay.
Finally we get on the plane. Because of the tail winds, the flight is more than an hour shorter than usual. We take off, 10 minutes later we are eating dinner. No cocktails/wine before dinner. Boom! Dinner is over. I barely got to watch a movie and then we were in Paris. And I had to eat normal airline food. Air France does offer an upgraded meal choice but I didn’t like any of them. Yeah, I know picky, picky. If they had offered an Asian choice I would have been happy. The KLM Indonesian meal I had on the way over was outstanding.
Here is Ben coming through the airport in Paris. Waiting for our connector flight on an Irish airline to Florence. Florence was fogged in so we landed in Pisa. Others were bussed to Florence. The nice folks, at the Irish airline that we were on, arranged for a car for us so that Ben did not have to climb the steps of the bus. The nice man driving the car took us to the hotel where our friends were waiting with our car so getting all those bags (since we arrived in Paris early there was enough time for the luggage to follow us) in our car was easier than it would have been at the airport.
Compared to the trip over on Alitalia and KLM, the trip back on Air France and some Irish airline was not as good. Given a choice, unless there is a HUGE price difference, we will go through Amsterdam and on KLM next time.
But to be fair to Air France, most of the difficulties could have been avoided by me. I was lulled into a false sense of ‘entitlement’, by the courtesies extends to us on the trip over by Alitalia and KLM. We had 3 bags on the way over and did not pay for the extra one. And no one weighted our carry-ons. So…. I assumed that Ben’s status of handicapped gave us a bit of lee-way. And that I had already paid $160 for extra bags. The weight limits are clearly posted on the Air France web site. It is just the crap shoot of will they be enforced or not.
Just two more posts about this trip and then we will finally be done with this.