Eyjafjoell, let me go home.
I’ve been in Europe this past week on business and was scheduled to return home to the United States yesterday. I’m still here though I hope to get out later today.
My Saturday morning flight from Munich went without any problems. Because I have elite status on the airline on which I was to travel home, I got to sit in the lounge before my cross-Atlantic flight from Frankfurt to Chicago. I was warned when I got there that my flight was 2 hours late and when I got online, I learned that the incoming flight was four hours late, having been held up in Chicago because of some mechanical problem.
As the afternoon went on though, murmurs about more ash from the Icelandic volcano began to spread. The current cloud is evidently fairly narrow, but is extending very far south and up as high as 35,000 feet. Therefore cross-Atlantic flights have to go way north or way south to avoid the cloud completely. This adds several hundred miles to the flight with associated additional time required.
Then my flight got canceled. When they announced it, I rushed to the front desk in order to get rebooked and maybe get a hotel room. I didn’t get the former immediately because they just weren’t sure about which flight they could put me on. I did get a voucher for the hotel at the airport. They had made me check my luggage in Munich, so they were going to take all the luggage from the now canceled flight and put it in baggage claim.
However, I knew that could take a while. I instead rushed right over to my hotel to get the room. Just as I was walking away with room key in hand, I heard a supervisor say to the reception staff that they were accepting no more room vouchers. So I was lucky and I got a free room. The hotel was not full, but the airline decided that it did not need to pay for delays because of the ash. I was lucky because I was early. In any case, I would have paid for the room. While it was important for last night, it would have been especially important if the delay extended for days.
I then went back across the street, figured out how to get into baggage claim, and retrieved my one piece of luggage. I made several more ventures out, primarily to get more Euros from the ATM in case the delay extended to several days and some food for the evening.
Though I had been given a dinner voucher, the hotel staff told me that it was no longer valid since the airline stopped paying passengers for their inconvenience. I didn’t have a problem with this, especially because I had a room. I didn’t want to eat in the hotel, so I just walked back to the airport and found a restaurant where I could get some “take-away” food.
The airline lounge opened at 7 AM this morning and I must admit I was there ten minutes early. Though they had originally planned to move me to a slightly earlier flight on another airline, I wanted to stay on this one. Essentially, I did not want to get lost in the system of the other airline if there were further problems.
So I’m now scheduled to fly out in a couple of hours, though my making the connection in Chicago is not likely. I’ll worry about that if it is an issue. Though it is a long way, I do drive between home and Chicago several times a year. What is mor probable, if I miss tonight’s plane I will hop on a very early one in the morning.
In any case, I know I can drive home from Chicago. I cannot do that from Frankfurt.
Update for Sunday, 14:00 CET: Flight just got delayed 3 hours because of ash drifting into some of the available tracks across the Atlantic. Will need to go back through passport control and security.
Update for Sunday, 16:20 CET: We got a track an hour earlier than we thought, so we’re going now.
Update for Sunday, 18:50 CDT: Landed in Chicago.
Update for Monday, 01:00 EDT: Just got home, 47 1/2 hours after I originally left the hotel in Munich.