I’m starting to think that I may be cursed when it comes to air travel, as it seems something interesting always seems to happen. Haha! My journey from Sochi to Amsterdam was no exception.
Sochi to Istanbul
I taxied to the airport at 2am for my 5:20am flight. It was a good thing I gave myself that extra time because the airport was one big unorganized crowd of people all wanting to check in, with no real idea of where they should be lining up. It took over an hour to get through the lineup and through the checkin counter.
Next I had to visit the Turkish Airlines office to pick up my compensation for my lost luggage when I arrived. When I filled in the paperwork initially, they had told me that I could pick up the compensation when I left Sochi. So imagine my surprise when they said that it wasn’t possible and that I would have to visit the Turkish Airlines office in Amsterdam! There was no reasoning with them, so I moved on.
I passed through security and was surprised that it had been stricter to get into the Olympic Park than it was to get through the airport! Once on the other side, there were minimal chairs for people to sit down, so most sat on the floor, myself included. There was no food available so people were splitting 6-packs of beer from the Duty Free shop and drinking them right there.
The plane boarded and the doors were closed, and what the pilot announced next made me laugh out loud: “Our cabin crew is ready, but the cargo doors are still open and we are not sure what we are waiting for.” The flight was about 30% Canadians, and most of us thought this was hilarious! After sitting at the gate for over an hour, we finally took off.
Istanbul to Amsterdam
I had about an hour and a half layover in Istanbul, which has to be one of the busiest airports I’ve ever been to. First thing I did was check the board for my gate. Of all the flights listed on the board, mine was the only one missing the gate number. Haha! Comedy! So I found some food and wandered the duty free stores for about a half hour and then went to check again. Still nothing. It wasn’t until 40 minutes before flight time that the gate number appeared. It was a ways away, so I ran!
The Istanbul airport doesn’t have enough gates to accommodate all flights, so they have a bus system that takes passengers out to the planes on the tarmac. (I had never shared the road with airplanes before!) After boarding, we sat on the tarmac for about 45 minutes. Finally we were moving and we took a run at the runway for takeoff and suddenly they slammed on the brakes and taxied back to the terminal. Two airline technicians boarded the plane and opened the emergency exits two rows ahead of my seat and next thing I knew they were telling us to gather our belongings and deplane onto waiting buses.
The buses took us about 50 meters to another plane. I watched them unload all the luggage and cargo from the first plane and onto the second plane, and finally 2 hours later, we took off. Whew!
I was grateful to land and deplane at Amsterdam’s familiar Schiphol airport. I half expected that my luggage wouldn’t arrive, but it did. Yay! I found my aunt and cousin who had been waiting for over 2 hours due to the delays and felt immediately at home.
So my next mission was to find the Turkish Airlines desk to deal with this compensation issue. We found the desk. They asked for my luggage claim paperwork, I gave it to them. They said, “This is in Russian.” Um, yes. Yes it is.
After explaining my story, they sent me up to the 7th floor office to someone whose first language is Russian. (Yay!) And it seems that the Sochi office did not fill in the forms properly and it was missing a claim number. Great. So I left it with them to sort out and am expecting an email hopefully today to clean this mess up. Wow!
What Have I Learned?
Through the lost luggage, the claims process, the late flights and unorganized airline offices I have learned a few things:
1. Roll with it.
Stressing is not going to sort anything out any quicker or get you there any faster. Roll with the hand you are dealt and try to keep a sense of humour about the mishaps. It’s a lot healthier to laugh about it than to get upset or cry about it.
2. Everything will work out in the end.
These adventure will make you a stronger, more experienced person and traveler.
3. Never fly Turkish Airlines again.
Stick to major airlines.
What travel challenges have you experienced? Please share in the comments below.