Every year around vacation, I remember the holidays of 2010 when I was very close of spending the celebrations in an airport hotel in Boston.
When I got to Boston Airport on December 21st, I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it home for Christmas. The airport was “frozen”: most airplanes didn’t fly that day, my friend’s flight had been cancelled just two hours before my scheduled departure and things didn’t look good for me either.
I didn’t lose hope though. A lot can happen in two hours. And it did. I sat in the queue to check in, carrying two large suitcases, a laptop bag and a handbag for about three hours and a half. My flight was still operating and I was checking its status every 15 minutes on my phone, until I saw it. There it was, written in CAPS, with red: flight connection from London to Budapest: CANCELLED. The flight to London was still up and running, yet I would be stuck in London for God knows how long.
I felt my knees go weak, my feet started to shake and I had to step out of the airport for a breath of fresh air. This cannot be happening I thought – I couldn’t and wouldn’t spend Christmas in an airport! I went back inside and looked for a British Airways representative. I didn’t care I was going to lose my place in the queue…After many minutes that seemed like hours, I found Mark, an employee of BA, and I thought: “Finally! Someone I could talk to!” He told me all flights from London towards any destination were cancelled and the next available flight will be after Christmas. I don’t know what he said next as I couldn’t hear him anymore. But there was one thing I knew for sure: I was not going to spend Christmas at an airport or in the hotel room that British Airways promised to provide to all of us who were stuck in Boston. Yes, hotels are nice. I love them, but on Christmas, that was the absolute last place I wanted to be.
So I went back to my queue and waited for I don’t know how long for my turn to come so I can talk to the check-in guys to get a new ticket considering the situation…If I wasn’t in public, I would have just sat down and cry my eyes out, but being the proud girl that I am, I was not going to let anyone see how I actually felt.
Around eight phone calls home and many flight status checks later, I had almost given up my hope to be home in time, when I refreshed the webpage and literally had to gasp for air: my flight connection from London was operating again. The plane from Boston had been scheduled to leave at 18:45 and it was already 19:20 so I grabbed my bags and ran to the check-in counter and literally screamed at Mark: “My flight is operating! Get me on that plane!” It took him about two seconds to realize what I had just said but he grabbed his phone and told the crew to wait for one more passenger. He overlooked my much too heavy luggage and my way too many hand luggage that I wanted to take on the plane, printed my boarding pass and wished me a Happy Christmas. I smiled back and ran to the security. I practically flew through the security gates and made my way to the boarding gates. The flight attendant smiled at me and I apologized for keeping the plane from flying, but she knew the situation already. Apparently, Mark, God bless him, had called them again after I left and had explained it all.
For the first time in my life I didn’t mind the angry looks the other passengers gave me when I boarded. Whoever had anything to comment could go jump off a cliff for all I cared. I was on the way home and I wasn’t going to let anyone ruin that.
I landed in London about 13 hours later due to several layovers on the way, I made my way to the British Airways Executive Club Lounge and enjoyed a peaceful breakfast after letting everyone back home know I had made it there.
Much too many hours later I landed in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and saw the “greeting” crew at the exit gates – my parents and a bunch of my friends were there with a “WELCOME HOME” big banner and a huge smile on their faces. I stopped for a few seconds and a smile appeared on my lips. I was home…
With a “Thank you” thought to Mark and tears in my eyes, I headed towards them and left the airport.
So, Mark, if you ever read this, THANK YOU for sending me home for Christmas.