Thursday, April 14, 2011

Welcome to America?

(Guest post by Georgia, our precious British visitor.  This is an account of how she started her visit to America.)

America so far has been AWESOME.
Reflecting back on my week so far means I have only a week left which I would rather not think about.

Instead let's discuss my arrival into the country... Fresh from a nine and a half hour flight I landed at Dallas airport full of excitement despite the fact that I had been up for fourteen and a half hours already (due to time difference). My optimism and excitement were somewhat dampened when I walked into four massive lines of people waiting to be checked just to get their luggage and only three stations open for these checks meaning that six people were to check these hundreds of people. At this point I had one and three-quarter hours until my connecting flight from the other side of the airport. Still I was optimistic.
 When I finally got to the checking desk the attendant there decided to take a walk with me sweating a little because I had an hour until my flight and I still had not collected my baggage. Finally after four sets of finger prints were taken I was let through and I found my bag carefully (or not!) placed on the floor. I picked it up only to find another huge line of people to have the forms checked again. When I joined the back of the line I had fifty minutes until my flight left and twenty minutes until the check in was closed I started to relax not realising that the terminal I needed to fly from was a train ride away. Thankfully this line moved along a bit quicker and I reached the customs check in ten minutes so I now had forty minutes which to me seemed plenty although I was far from relaxed now. I then went through a long corridor only to put my suitcase I had spent an hour collecting straight on to another flight which to me seemed ridiculous.
I then had a hand luggage check to get out of the the terminal which took ten minutes.
Now check in was closed. I found the place I had to get the train from and jumped on the train to my terminal. Then I was lining up for another hand luggage check. I reached the front of one of the lines in five minutes but the boarding pass for my previous flight was not accepted despite the fact I had been told it would. So I went over to a kiosk to get another boarding pass using up more time. At the kiosk it told me that it was too late to check in and gave me voucher saying that I should be allowed on the flight. I then lined up again for the hand luggage check and when I reached the front they told me that I had to find an "agent" which to me means a big guy in a suit wearing dark sunglasses and an earpiece; suffice to say I didn't see one of them so I wasn't sure what the American definition of agent was.
Luckily a really kind Texan man and his wife saw and actually cared about my  visible distress and took me to a counter when by this point I was so frantic that I couldn't speak for myself and he asked people to make way for me in the line and spoke for me at the counter and got me a boarding pass. Now I had ten minutes to get through hand baggage checks and to run through the airport to find my gate. At the hand baggage checks my bag was passed through and reversed many times. Finally I got through and in my socks I found out that I still needed to get on a train with minutes left. I got on the train where I put my shoes on. Now I had no idea what the time was because there were no clocks around so I was still rushing. When I got to the gate my flight was on the screen but there was no one there. A woman then appeared and confirmed that the plane had just finished boarding.
Now I'm stuck and panicking even more because there have been plans in place to pick me up and I'm not going to be there and I don't know how I am going to tell my hosts because my phone conveniently stopped working altogether not that I would have been able to dial from the US with and English phone any way. BUT it did have their numbers on and now I couldn't access them. A man offered to put me on the next flight as a standby (at the time I didn't actually understand what this meant) but how could I explain being so late to people I couldn't contact!? He offered to look them up on information for me but they did not appear so I still couldn't contact them.
An idea sprang to mind that if I emailed I may get the message to them so I used the free Internet to email and say what had happened titled URGENT...
The man also offered for me to stay the night in a hotel with meals and a flight the next morning which I didn't even respond to because I had no idea what to do. Then I got an email back which calmed me considerably so I knew what to do - head for the gate of the next flight at seven fifty- five pm and wait to hear. As I approached the gate there was an announcement for me to come to the gate where I received a relayed message saying to stay there and that they know what is happening. Relief, but still confusion. The airline was then having to pay people to leave the flight because it was overbooked so surely there was no place for me. I then had a phone call from Tyler airport saying that Engineer was on his way!  Finally I knew what was going to happen so I felt relieved but I felt terrible that because of this, Engineer had to drive all the way to Dallas to pick me up. By now I had been up for twenty one hours and was a wreck. When Engineer arrived I was so pleased to see a familiar face and pleased to be getting out of the airport. I didn't have my luggage but that could be worried about tomorrow...
I would like to note that while all of this was going on with her in Dallas, I was frantically calling Engineer and having him talk to the folks at the Tyler Airport to see what they could do and on the phone with the airline.  Also, I was calling the help desk at the airline for any advice or assistance they could give me.  After all, I was responsible for a 17 year old foreign girl travelling alone, one would think that people would be a little more compassionate and understanding.  The customer service that I received from the phone was appalling (they will be receiving a strongly worded e-mail from me very soon) but the customer service rendered by the desk in the Tyler airport was wonderful.  Thank you Tyler airport for being so gracious and helpful.  Thank you Engineer for being so flexible and calm.  I can assure you that Georgia's parents thank y'all too.  :)

2 comments:

  1. oh my, not the best of welcomes. Glad you made it and are having a good time Georgia!

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks cricketscts im loving it!

    ReplyDelete

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