Getting to Italy- the hard way…

From Jacksonville, FL to Verona, Italy is never an uncomplicated trip.  There are no direct flights for most of the steps involved so planning is of the utmost importance when we make the trip, which we do several times a year.  This time was no exception.  We had made reservations to fly from Jax to Dallas to London to Rome to Verona.  Three separate record locators and three airlines.  Here’s how it all played out:

We arrived at the airport in Jacksonville, got our coffee and egg sandwiches and awaited boarding.  Just as everyone was queuing up to board the flight was cancelled.  A flight attendant on the incoming flight had been taken seriously sick on board and they had no replacement for her.  They also didn’t want to use the plane until they knew what she had.  They took her away in a stretcher and thanked us for our patience as we all worked to get re-booked.

We managed to get a flight out of Jax through Charlotte that would get us to Dallas in time for the London leg of the trip.  We boarded the flight, taxied out to the runway and sat there delayed almost an hour due to the navigation system needing a reboot.  We were thanked profusely for our patience.

Arriving Charlotte we had to run to our gate to board on time for Dallas.  This time we were held at the gate by air traffic control due to the number of planes on the runways, and of course thanked for our patience.  As we finally taxied out we were again stopped by the need to reboot the navigation system.  Thanked yet again for our patience.  And given a free snack.

What started out as a leisurely 4 hour lay over in Dallas slipped away to a 30 minute stop over where we had to ride the train halfway around the airport to change terminals.  We arrived at our gate and boarded on time.  The scheduled departure time came and went with an announcement that one of the rear toilets needed maintenance and all they were waiting for was a log signature. Thank you for your patience.  Another 30 minutes later we were told that a coffee maker was leaking somehow to the outside of the plane and as it might freeze on the plane in flight it had to be replaced.  Guess what they thanked us for?  Yep, our patience.

Arriving Heathrow the next morning we hoped for a better day of travel.  This flight was to Rome and we had a long layover again there before heading to Verona later in the day.  We were pleasantly surprised to get on the plane, leave and arrive on time.  We also had a relatively easy time getting through passport control on arrival in Rome.   We headed to the airport Hilton where I had mistakenly booked us for the next night.  A whole lot of euros later that we had not planned to spend and we had a room to get about 4 hours sleep.

Up early for our final leg to Verona.  A new day and only a one hour flight left to go.  Everything went fine at check in up until we got on the bus to go to the plane.  the bus was full of people and it sat there and sat there while all around us busses came and went from other gates.  Eventually several passengers started yelling in Italian with one of them funding on the glass separating us from the driver.  It was a little tense for a minute or two as other passengers tried to calm the men down only to erupt in arguments.  Finally the gate agent came down to explain that they could not take us to the plane as the catering was late.  She motioned us off the bus and up the tunnel back to the terminal.  The only problem was the door to the terminal was locked.  We were in the middle of the pack and we could not go forward or backward.  We stood in the tunnel with a lot of very angry passengers for another 20 minutes before they allowed us to board.  For a one hour flight?  At least we did not have to hear someone thank us for our patience.

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As far as redeeming moments during this 48 hour + journey?  A beautiful sunrise over London, my flight attendants shoes, a passengers handbag.  It’s the little things that restore joy in trying circumstances.

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