our journey through Europe...

A collection of pictures and words documenting our life in Germany

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

what a nightmare

Last night at 10:20pm I technically left the country of Germany. I was on my way to see my family and friends back in the States. I was on a military C5 plane. Thirty minutes after leaving the country I had to go back.

It all started on Thursday last week when I was planning to fly Space-A(A for available ha!) with the military flights out of Ramstein AFB.The flight that was supposed to leave on Thursday was delayed til Friday, then delayed again until Sunday then until Monday at 12:15. There was probably roughly around 200 people sitting in the terminal all weekend...women and tons of children screaming and running around. There were many retirees as well. Everyone I talked to said this was so rare in October and usually they never have a problem flying. Thats the reason I had decided to go home at this time because it was supposed to be EASY at this time of the year! Apparently I had forgotten one important thing....what the military does best: Hurry up and wait.

On Sunday I met a very nice girl who also has a husband in the military and she and I started planning our way back to the states,trying to figure out if our names would be called to get on the next flight to the states. As we sat at the terminal ALL day on Sunday we started making friends with one of the retirees couple. I must say I was very blessed to have met all these nice people and I'm SO thankful I had them there for moral support because this whole week has been frustrating.

When my new friend and I found out there was a flight heading to Charleston, we figured that would work for us(heck we just wanted to get out of there and back to the sates). We knew that our names were too far down on the list to make it on the flight to BWI. So we decided to go to sleep at my house and come back early in the morning and HOPEFULLY be on that plane to Charleston! The next morning, we called the terminal to make sure the plane to Charleston was still on schedule, the recording tells us yes its on schedule. We get to the terminal only to find out that the flight as been delayed until 18:45!! Too tired to go anywhere we got out or sleeping bags and slept upstairs in the terminal. Apparently the terminal was left open so all the families could sleep in there that night.

So we decided to sit at the terminal for the rest of the day to see if our names would be called for any of the flights head to BWI or Charleston. There were 108 seats on the flight to BWI, at the last minute they added more seats and my friend was able to make it on that flight. I missed getting on that plane by 3 names. Three names!

The plane with red is the one my friend left on

Oh well, I thought to myself...I KNOW I will make it on the flight to Charleston because my names at the top of the list and there were 73 seats. I told myself that if something happened with this flight that it was going to be a sign and I was not supposed to go.While I was waiting, I had also made friends with another couple who were from Charleston and they told me they would take care of me when I go there. Again, I am so blessed to have met such nice people! They kept telling me, don't worry we are getting on that flight and soon I would see my family. Soon 18:45 comes around and they announce roll call...my name is called and I got my boarding pass! Brad is there and he and I call Southwest to "make my last reservation(I had already changed it like 5 times) to Chicago. Well we find out the plane is going to get there later than we think so Brad goes home and he gets me a flight to Indy on Tuesday night.

So we make it through security me and the moms and kids and the retirees. Everyone so tired and cranky. One lady had been waiting with her two kids for 7 days, trying to get home to her mom was ill. They have us sit down in a room to wait while the get the buses to take us to the plane and do all the other prep work that they do. At 21:30 an airman tells us all to line up and we will be getting on the buses. We all stand up and then he tells us that there has been a delay and there is a minor problem with the plane but it shouldn't be too much longer. We sit back down and wait. Finally he says its time to get on the buses and we all walk out and load up on the buses. We get out to the C5 plan if you don't know what kind of plane that is then click here. Here is a good picture to give you an idea of the stairs we had to climb up to get to our seats:

Here's a picture I took real quick so you can get the idea:
You can see all the people rushing up front and trying to get on the stairs

So I'm standing there waiting to climb the stairs and then people start arguing who gets to go first. "The women and children should be going first!" one lady shouts. "I'm E9, theres a bunch of E9s over here, let us through!" says one retiree. The whole time people are pushing and shoving to the top. I keep my mouth shut and finally get into the plane and find a seat with my friends towards the front. I sat down and couldn't believe it, I was so excited to leave. The crew is up front and they pass out earplugs to everyone.
Even thought I was going on 4 hours of sleep, my throat hurt because I had gotten sick from being around so many people, I was still so happy. I took pictures with my friends:

The Crockers from Charleston who said they would take care of me.
The Bailys and me(they reminded me of my grandparents!)
So I was sitting there with my boarding pass in my hand, listening to the safety brief and 5 minutes later a man tells us(women children and retirees who could barely walk up the stairs to the plane in the first place) he is sorry to inform us but something was wrong with the plane again and we all had to get off and the flight would be rescheduled to leave in the morning. My friends and I look at eachother and I started laughing. So I sat there for two minutes and I was waiting for him to say to us "I'M JUST KIDDING YOU GUYS JUST STAY IN YOUR SEATS." But it wasn't a joke.

I knew this was it...we started filing off the plane and the airmen kept apologizing to us. As I walked down those steep steps I just had this feeling that something wasn't right. I felt that I wasn't supposed to be leaving. You have no idea of much I wanted to see my family and friends. Something just kept telling me that this wasn't the time. They load us back up onto the buses and we head back to the terminal. I sat beside a man and he told me that they had already fixed the plane that very first time but an airman had told him the reason they got us off the plane was because they had not gotten permission to lift off. Quiet hour is at 11pm in Germany and they had not gotten permission to fly out.

Seriously I thought?!!It seemed the whole weekend that there was a lack of communication at this terminal. I had been told by my friend and other people that they had gotten incorrect information that weekend.

We get to the baggage claim and sit there waiting to claim our stuff. I look over my shoulder and there are two little girls who had become friends, sitting down just sobbing. The one girl tells her friend "I just want to see my daddy!" The other girl agrees with her. Oh my goodness..I couldn't take it, I just started to cry. I thought to myself, I can't be mad at anyone because of this mess because I chose to fly Space-A(which is not reliable)but geeez this is so messed up. I was so tired, frustrated.

An airmen comes to tell us that our luggage is at the other end of the building and that they are going to give us a briefing. We make it down there and it is chaos, people looking for their bags, kids crying, the retirees shaking their heads, out of breath from walking so far.

I found my bag and waiting. They told us we could rotate ourselves off the flight or we could stay on and fly out tomorrow at noon. "Really?" I thought, these people are going to wait to be delayed again? Come to find out from one of my friends this one airmen started telling people that they HAD to rotate their names off the list and then she started telling another group of people that they could rotate themselves off in the morning.

So at the end of this nightmre...I decided that I will never try to fly Space-A again and that clearly I had seen  the end result of horrible communication between a group of people. So many people are upset with the commander at this terminal and I don't blame them. But I don't think saying anything is going to change the way they run their flights.

To all my family and friends who I won't be able to see,
I love you all and I miss you so much. I tried to make it there but apparently there is a reason why I shouldn't leave.When you get together this weekend I'll be there in spirit. I will see you some other time when I can get a commercial ticket and not this space-a-waiting-all-week-stuff.




sabo_meenyo said...

ohh..what a horrible experience! i'm so sorry Lita!

Nicole said...

Oh Lita! That sounds like something you'd watch in a movie! You're right, there apparently was a reason the Lord didn't want you to get on that plane! I'm glad to know you are safe...sad that you don't get to see family and friends, but trust that when you do it will be well worth the wait :o) I enjoy reading your blog...thanks for sharing friend.