With a large family and travel chaos, it's been hard to post. I was caught up in the Europe snowy airport problem. When I saw the snow pouring down last weekend, I knew our flights would be canceled. But we were lucky and after a storm of postponed and rescheduled flights, a miraculous escape from Heathrow, hurried online changes, and long long drives, all of our scattered family finally got to Colorado in time for Christmas together. We'll see what happens when it's time to return... the snow has something more to say.
I flew out of CDG on Tuesday 21st December (which I had picked because the snow was supposed to stop after Monday). Some people at the gate had already been waiting for days to leave and had colonized one corner of the gate area. The airport had supplied them with neon-chartreuse-colored blankets which they wore around their shoulders-- as they had not been able to get access to their luggage, and the airport was cold. The gate agents would call passengers' names, often almost unrecognizable in a heavy French accent, and if the passengers did not show up by a certain time, give their seats away. Each time a gate agent called a stranded person's name, the whole group let out a cheer. When a middle-aged Frenchwoman was called, she waved an affectionate goodbye at the group. One of the passengers who had been there since Friday was a musician who called out, "I hope I never see you again!" She replied in French, "I don't understand what you are saying, but happy Christmas and good luck to you all!"
A young American woman I know, who lives in London, was not so lucky as my family member. They both were supposed to leave on Friday 17 December; her flight was only a couple of hours later. But after she spent eight hours sitting in the plane on the tarmac, the plane was forced to turn back to the terminal. After living for six days in the airport chaos without her luggage amid thousands of other passengers in the same fix, she was told on Wednesday 22nd December that she could fly out on ...December 29th, missing Christmas with her family.
She gave us updates via Facebook and seemed to keep her spirits high throughout the ordeal. Her friends all said they spotted her on the BBC coverage because her yellow scarf stood out in the crowd. At least she had a home in London to go back to. Tens of thousands of transit passengers had nowhere to go. It's a big disgrace for the British that so many hundreds of thousands of people had their holidays ruined after a day or two with five inches of snow. When you add that unbelievable incompetence to the new huge British per-flight tax and the constantly threatening British Air strikes, why would anyone who had the choice fly through the U.K.?