A Trans-Atlantic flight (in 2016) by Mary Mae Lewis
The first inkling, on this trip, that all would not be perfect was when we checked our baggage in at Manchester airport. The larger suitcase was opened up before we were allowed through to security and the plane was delayed.
I was by then hungry, and nervous. Boarding in silence the air hostesses only nodded as we took up our seats. There was no welcome aboard and no life jacket demonstrations. Summoning a flight attendant, to obtain earphones, took three attempts. But at four euros a pair we made do with watching an Icelandic film with sub-titles. Only a coffee came, complimentary. Food had to be purchased! With baguettes at eight euros, minimum, we declined (we were used to Spanish prices) There’ll be a hot meal on the six-hour haul from Iceland onwards, surely?
Arriving in the Reykjavik we felt like we had been disgorged into a refugee camp; bodies sitting on rucksacks littered the transit lounge. Amid the chatter and foul smells, like Hyacinth and Richard in Keeping Up Appearances we toured the salon. With my sciatica, sitting on a floor was not a healthy option!
Luckily, hubby spotted an empty seat and nudged me. In a flash I whipped off my sun hat and hurled it, like a Frisbee, across the room. It landed admirably but as I staggered towards it I heard, “Would Mrs Mary Mae Lewis, make her way to the Icelandic Air information desk.”
“That’s me.” I gasped as I handed my husband my bag.
“Mrs Mary Mae Lewis.” The voice over the tannoy repeated.
“Guard the seat.” I instructed.
“Mrs Lewis?” The girl at the airline counter queried.
“You have been chosen; a random customer.”
I moved closer to the pretty face and smiled.
I imagined I had been signalled out for a bottle of free champagne or some luxury chocolates.
“For an extra security check.”
Before my chin could drop, I felt an arm on my elbow and I was gently frog marched up some stairs and delivered to the USA BORDER CONTROL.
Passengers lined one wall, holding passports. I wasn’t. Showing the US guard my empty hands I was ordered to fetch mine!
I plead; we only have thirty minutes before boarding. I am frisked and quickly cleared! Phew!
We encamp to the eatery, another queue! Stuff that. I grab the only stool available at the bar but with drinks at fifteen dollars a time we order tap water. We talk to an American student about how terrible it would be for America if Donald Trump was elected president and we forget our hunger, till the flight is called.
“I see you have passed your security check,” the boarding pass checker announces loudly as we line up, again. I blush and my tummy rumbles like a roller coaster.
“When’s dinner?” I enquire as the stewardesses move up and the plane’s cabin again like Stepford wives.
“When you order it,” one girl says, whipping the menu, (the same one as before) from the pouch on the back of the seat in front of me.
I succumb. Hubby doesn’t.
“I’ll have the tapas with the wine.” Included was a piece of hot pizza, apparently! The wine was fine but the box of tapas, which looked about a foot long on the photo on the menu was no bigger than a big box of matches! The pepperoni looked like burnt spaghetti, the cheese was just one mouthful of cream cheese, and the pizza didn’t exist.
“A printing error” the flight attendant informed me. I grimaced and delved into my book, sipped the wine slowly and ignored my hunger pangs.
With face and finger print recognition technology we slipped through Immigration like silver fish through pin holes and waited at the carousel for our suitcases.
Hubby stacked the first one onto his trolley with our hand luggage and coats and we waited and waited. Damn it our case is lost! And my hat’s in Iceland!
“Ok. No big deal” hubby assures me as he turns to a guard nearby.
“You grab the trolley and we’ll do what we have to do.”
“Hell, where is the trolley!” I scream as my eyes run around the vicinity looking for our distinctive blue and white suitcase. Spotting a man pushing our stuff down the baggage hall I run up to him.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” I shout. “You know that trolley isn’t yours; those things are not yours. Why did you do this?”
“Cause I am an asshole” he yells. I yank the trolley off him and turn away.
“You said it.” I shout, over my shoulder.
“She called me an asshole” the man complained to the guard.
“No, I didn’t.” I defended myself.
“No, you didn’t ma’m. “The man is what he said, an AH but don’t worry about that now. You got your stuff back and now you must make a claim for the missing baggage, in the office.”
I glance at my watch; we have already missed the 7 pm bus and now will have to wait till 10. Still enough time to get a Big Mac and fries. My mouth waters at the thought.
Mr. Peterson fills out the forms while telling us his life story and we tell him about our son and his family in Milwaukee, who we will be staying with for three weeks; we feel confident our suitcase will turn up. Just one week later it and delivered straight to our son’s front door.
We had a lovely holiday in Wisconsin and a good journey home, but I never did see my hat again!