Alps Conclusion, Spring Trip Preview

Alps 2017

Conclusion

It’s time for storytime with Isaac once again. A few things to note before I begin:

  • I said “again”, but I’m not actually sure I’ve ever done storytime on my blog before. Just go with it for now.
  • This particular story is going to be a long one, so if you would like to skip ahead to the happy ending, click here and you can miss my long telling without anyone knowing or me being offended.
Anyhow, back to storytelling.
As some of y’all may remember, last May I went on an amazing MBA international experience to France, Italy, and Switzerland. Many of you followed my blog (thanks!), and a few people actually questioned me as to why I didn’t write a post for my final morning in Europe and my flight home. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t because it was a boring day of just sitting in airports for hours, though it did involve a lot of sitting in airports.
Without further ado, here’s the story you’ve all been waiting for/had forgotten about:

Leaving Lausanne

I awoke in Lausanne, Switzerland around 06:30 (12:30am EST), took a quick shower (I’ll explain why that is significant later), and hustled to the hotel lobby to catch our shuttle vans by 07:00. We arrived at the Lausanne train station and boarded our train (first class! – which was really not all that nice…).

We ate a quick breakfast of fresh peaches and store-bought chocolate croissants, and enjoyed a very smooth and beautiful one hour train ride around the lake to the airport in Geneva. We scrambled off the train with our luggage, checked our bags, and headed through the most detailed airport security I’ve ever seen. On the other side of security, fabulous restaurants and stores awaited us.

Geneva Airport

We opted to skip the restaurants and duty-free stores in an effort to get through customs quickly – that was our first big mistake. Once on the other side of customs, one could not return to the heavenly-smelling area of the Geneva airport, so we were forced to eat breakfast from a magazine stand. I opted for double dark chocolate gelato pint, since that was the most appetizing thing I saw. I also grabbed some seasoned almonds hoping that the fiber and what not would counteract some of the sugar.

GVA > IAD

We finally boarded our flight, and I spent the next 8 or so hours watching movies on the plane. I was determined to stay awake the entire trip home in an effort to mitigate some of the jet lag. We landed at the monstrosity that is Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. around 14:45. Despite having been awake for over 14 hours and surviving on ice cream and airplane food, I was doing pretty well at the time.

We made it through customs relatively quickly (I had a talk with the customs agent and convinced him it would save him a headache to question our group collectively rather than individually, so that saved us some time)–take note, CLT–and then we took the train to the opposite side of the airport to Terminal A to await our flight to Charlotte.

Departing Geneva
Departing Geneva

To Delay, Or Not To Delay

That’s when the chaos started. I checked the weather and saw that there were tornado warnings for the Charlotte area, and that flights to Greensboro and Atlanta were being delayed, so I knew my now-15-hour-day was about to get even longer. Our luck with the terminals had continued, and we were once again isolated away from good food. Tired, hungry, and very cranky, I just wanted to be home. If you’ve ever flown, you know the feeling.

That’s when I heard the United agent come on the intercom:
“We’re sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but the flight to Charlotte is on weight restriction due to weather conditions. We need volunteers to take a later flight to Charlotte, otherwise we will have to pick passengers at random.”

I knew I could wait to take a later flight, even though I didn’t really want to, but my contacts were killing me and I was tired and hungry. Nonetheless, a travel voucher is a pretty appealing incentive. I knew I was likely going to get delayed anyways, but I decided I would hold out for some compensation at least. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t leave to get food.

The agents came over the intercom again and offered $300 to take a 10:20pm flight to Charlotte, putting my potential arrival at midnight. Still, I held out, and the number went up to $700. A few people stepped forward, but the agents still needed two volunteers. By this time, our original 5:00pm flight was due to take off at any minute, but there was still not word on weather conditions or delays.

Eventually, the number went up to $1,000 to take the 10:20pm flight, so I (and a friend from the trip named Matt Cameron) sprinted up to the desk and claimed the last two spots. Just as our other flight home was supposed to board, we printed out our travel vouchers (which I held onto like $1,000 cash), and began to attempt to schedule a flight home.

I remembered reading an article about getting delayed in airports, and remembered you could ask to be transferred to another airline, so I asked about that, and they reluctantly sent us over to American Airlines for a 9:15pm flight. It was only an hour earlier, but anything was better than a 10:20pm flight and arriving in CLT after midnight.

Dinner, Finally

Matt and I grabbed our new American ticket vouchers, walked back to the train, and took it all the way back to the other side of the airport to the American Terminal. Finally, we were back near some food! I stopped at & Pizza, a DC chain, ordered a pizza and ate the entire thing. I would like to once again emphasize that I ate the entire pizza. And that I have now been awake for over 18 hours.

& Pizza
& Pizza

Homeward Bound

We headed over to the American desk and printed out our new tickets. The agent told us that if we waited around the terminal, there was a potentially underbooked American Eagle flight that leaving at 7:15pm we might could join (at this point, it is around 6:30pm). We expectantly waited, but our hearts sunk when we heard the final two boarding calls. But then, a glimmer of hope. “Church!” “Cameron!” “Please come to the gate immediately!”
We sprinted to the gate, grabbed our new boarding passes, and were hastily pointed down the walkway. We boarded the plane just before they closed the door, and got several dirty looks from the other passengers. I hadn’t been paying much attention, but it turns out the vacated seat I got was first class! I had so much leg room I could stretch my legs straight out and not hit the seat in front of me! Unfortunately, I didn’t really need it at that point because I was too tired to care.

Finally Home

We landed in Charlotte, debarked the plane, and I was finally reunited with my parents (and a bathroom where I could finally take my burning contacts out). The best part about the story is that my original United flight got back a mere 15 minutes before us. I managed to stay awake on the car ride home, and ended up back home in bed after a 25-hour day.

Home
Home

Summary for the Lazy Readers (TL;DR)

I got a $1,000 travel voucher on United Airlines for riding first class on a flight that got back 15 minutes later and staying awake for 25 straight hours! Yay weather problems.

Spring Trip Preview

All that said, that brings me to the point of me writing this post many months later: the travel voucher is being put to good use this March, just in time before the year long expiration date. The Church family will once again go on another unbelievable (mainly because Mom will be flying for the first time in almost 50 years) adventure.

I’ll post an official introduction soon, but for now I’ll give a few teasers:

  • Location Hints: We’ll be visiting a “needle” and a “haystack”; two cities with the same name that are a short drive apart, but in two different countries; ocean, rain forest, and mountains. One location is Greek but not in Greece; another is French but not in France.
  • We’ll be visiting two countries, traveling by sea and by land. However, no combination of 1 or 2 lanterns will be used, though the British will be involved.
  • We’ll be visiting places none of us have ever been before.

That’s all for now! Tune in again soon for the actual introduction.

Conclusion

A few closing notes:

  • Sorry to anyone who noticed any downtime of my website over the holidays. The breaker flipped in the living room of my apartment due to the blisteringly cold temperatures in Boone (we’re talking negative), and I was not able to get things working again for a while.
  • On that note, I’ll likely be moving to a new web hosting platform (aka not a $35 pocket computer in my living room) sometime soon. This should speed up loading times and keep things operating more reliably. That being said, at some point I might redesign my website. TBA for now.
  • As always, thanks for reading, and subscribe if you’d like future updates!
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