Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cascading Failures

I should in Germany right now, but I'm still here in good ol' Milwaukee.  Richard and I left as chaperones for six high school German students from his school to go visit the exchange students who visited us last fall and do a little tour of Berlin.  The trip went smoothly right up until an hour before our first flight was about to leave - we had one shuttle, then three planes and one train ride just to get there.  We were delayed, by a thunderstorm, but were told our best bet was to still get on the plane for the hour ride and that our next flight would be held an extra fifteen minutes for us to get there.  Surely it was more than one thing that set off our cascading failures, but we didn't catch the second flight and that's when things got interesting.

Instead of being able to get on the next flight out we wouldn't leave until the next night, so we'd have to sleep two nights in two airports before we even left the country, and the previously 24 hour trek was now slated to take about 90 hours.  And even then we had no guarantee that with our new layover in Amsterdam of 55 minutes that we would be able to get eight people through customs, including four kids with no previous customs experience, and on to the last flight to Berlin.

After four hours of Richard and I on the phone with airline reps as well as confused and concerned parents we finally determined that the best course of action was to return home and try to reschedule the trip.  So at 3AM, in the MSP airport terminal F, we hung up with the last rep who had put us on a plane back to Chicago and laid down for a few restless hours of sleep before we got back on a plane that brought us right back to where we started.

We are out the hard-won and fundraised money for the hotel in Berlin, the shuttle to and from the airport, and a few other non-refundable expenses.  We're still hopeful the airline will recognize our plight and refund our tickets.

It's been nearly a full week since we attempted our little journey, and I'm still getting teary and upset when I think about that eventful adventure that did not get us to our destination.  To be frank, I busted my ass at more than one job this past year so that we could afford this trip and even when the money is refunded I will still be disappointed that our adventure ended so close to home.  I try so hard to be upbeat, and hopeful, everyday in everything but in this case I cannot.  This time I can only be sad and angry.


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