We topped our own record for travel time to America. This time: 37.5 hours. Lufthansa had better give us something nice. This time, we can count on something nice.
BECAUSE OUR PLANE BROKE.
We get on the Airbus 340 and I can tell something is wrong. The plane is not accelerating as it should.... not roaring in that initial push. Time passes and all the flight attendants are just sitting in their chairs, way longer than normal. Why aren't we climbing?
Imagine how it felt for us when the pilot announced, "Sorry but our landing gear has malfunctioned. We are going to dump our fuel and circle back to Frankfurt."
It was one of those times in my life where I'm sure I'll die and I get very calm, "So this is how I go."
Then the pilot repeated himself in English, and explained in a less-panic-inducing way, "Our wing flaps are stuck in the landing position and we cannot gain altitude." Whew. (But still, I suspected he was lying to us and we'd find out on landing.)
We circled and circled, dumping kerosene on the forests and crops.
The video readout of the flight showed our path, it was super frustrating to know we're not going forward, just circling til landing where we began. We'd already missed a plane due to a late train so we were bound for Denver, not Seattle, and there was a pregnant girl puking two seats over. Later we found out they had a cat! (And I said, "He had a worse day than the rest of us!"
The readout on the flight video saying FRA-->FRA was just funny. That never happens. Usually a plane goes from one place to *another*: )
Then the captain announced, "Don't be worried when you see lots of fire trucks and ambulances on the runway when we land - that's just procedure." (That didn't help calm us down!)
We landed fine and then they spent the next hour trying to fix the plane, with us still on it. That's a first for me. They opened up the doors of the plane so the flight attendants could watch the progress. In the end they couldn't fix it so we had to get another plane.
That took a while and by then I'd entered that zone of apathy in travel where you just blank out. And we were still in freaking Germany.
Finally they put us on another plane to DEN and as usual it was abysmal, oh, but guess what - it's an even longer flight to Denver than Seattle! Who knew!
The airport region of Denver is the most desolate place on Earth. Even around the edges of the lakes there is not a spec of green.
That they have tornado shelters at the airport is another thing.
Before arrival they assured us they would be giving out hotel vouchers. HA. That sounds so nice, so simple. Nothing about it was. It took *hours* for us to get those vouchers. Our "Broken Plane" group had whittled down to about 13 because so many others had lost patience and just gotten out of there.
They finally found a hotel with room for 13 and got us a shuttle. I remember waiting for that shuttle in my airplane clothes (very light) in subszero weather.
We got to the hotel and got a room at 2 freaking 30 AM. Guess when our flight to Seattle was? So early we would only have TWO HOURS to sleep in that hotel. When we realized that I just about lost my mind. I said it's been too much, I'd had enough, and I need to just stay in a hotel a full night and day and recover from that nightmare.
But by the grace of God we woke up 2 hours later, from jet lag, and were ready to go. We caught the 4:30AM shuttle back to the airport and started the horrible last 3.5 hours of our journey.
Of course we were both delerious by this point, beyond apathy in a grey swirly place.
The Washington state license plates on cars that normally make me happy and feel so at home were pale.
We arrived in Seattle around noon and as soon as we got to my parents' house I got out a piece of paper to figure out how long it took us, with the time differences figured in.
37.5 hours. Have any of you had worse luck, and travelled even longer from A to B by plane?
Here is a video of the start of our journey (well, the start was by car....) at the Cologne main station, where our train was late, causing us to miss our direct flight to Seattle. BTW, the airline partners with the trains so it's one single booking. The train to airport is included in the flight as if it were a transfer.