Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


(Another LONG AS HELL post in which I ramble about flights and why I now hate flying so much!)

Yesterday will long reign as one of the most awful and trying days of my life.

I’ve often counted myself lucky that I have never had any major catastrophes while traveling. Rarely a delayed flight let alone missing one.

Well, that all ended yesterday.

Things started off swimmingly in Salt Lake City. I got through security in record time, caught my flight, slept the whole way. I had just enough time to walk through O’Hare to catch my flight to London. Luckily, we got out before flights started to be delayed due to the weather.

Again, this flight went fine. I got a window seat (which I was worried about) and the leap over the pond went really quickly. As much as I loved the sweet British flight crew there were a few things that I did not like about British Airways: they did not offer in-flight entertainment like Delta–touch screen TV monitor with movie/TV/ game choices), rather they had channels each showing a movie with no way to start over; and they served curry for dinner (ick). All in all, though, everything went great.

Until we landed at Heathrow, that is.

I know I’ve been to Heathrow before (on my way to India), but I must have forgotten what a madhouse it is. After landing we sat on the runway for over an hour and a half. We weren’t even at a gate, instead we were out in the middle of nowhere and we had to walk down a flight of steps to catch buses to the terminal. After sitting for so long, I knew making my connection to Sofia was unlikely.

We finally got back to the terminal and I got into line for security. My two carry-ons (which went through with NO troubles in SLC) were flagged and had to be hand inspected by the less than time conscious security staff. The worker took every.single.thing out of both of my bags and meticulously swabbed his bomb-detecting wipes over every square inch. Now, if you know me (and I think you do by now) you know that I do not pack light. Not even close. I had those bags packed like a puzzle. Everything was snug and, dare I say, perfect. Not so much after someone carelessly takes everything out and goes through ever nook and cranny.

Still hoping to make my connection, I hurriedly threw everything back into the bags after being ruled out as a terrorist hell bent on destroying the world. Frantically scanning the departures screen, I knew I was in trouble. Sofia was nowhere to be seen. I asked an employee and she said if it was off the board the plane was gone. I tried to keep it together while I wandered around the 8 million duty free shops looking for British Airways customer service.

I finally found it and tried to be civil to the guy helping me. I’ve worked in hard customer service jobs; it’s not easy being yelled at all day. He said I had two options: 1) wait for about 6 hours in Heathrow and take the next direct flight to Sofia which would get me into the city around 10pm, or 2) catch a connecting flight to Bucharest then a flight to Sofia from there, which would get me into the city at 6:30p. I have zero patience so I rashly went with option 2.

BIG MISTAKE as it turns out.

The customer service agent assured me that I would not have to go back through security to catch the flight to Bucharest and that I had plenty of time to make the flight. I quickly shot off an email to Vince telling him that I missed my original flight and not to go to the airport to pick me up until later.

A train ride and lots of walking later, I made it to the terminal for the flight to Bucharest; a huge security line staring me in the face. I tried to talk to the employee standing at the front of the line to explain that I had just gone through security and had both my bags hand searched, but he said I had to do it again (curse the BA agent that said I didn’t have to!). With no other choice I got into line and prayed that I would get through with no problems.

I must have been asking for far too much.

Both bags were hand searched AGAIN. I lost it this time (as boarding for my flight to Bucharest was already closing) and burst into tears. The older British woman going through my bags immediately turned into the grandmotherly type and tried to calm me down. She went through everything pretty quickly and after telling me that candles will alert security staff every time (I brough quite a few for our apt. as well as for gifts) she said that  if I hurried I might catch my connection.

I ran as fast as 70. lbs of luggage would allow me and barely squeaked onto the bus out to the plane with seconds to spare. I have a sneaking hunch the nice lady in security called ahead to tell them I was coming, but who knows.

3 hours later we were touching down in Romania. Right when I got off the plane I asked the BA gate agent where I should go and where my luggage was. She said that my bags would meet me in Sofia and directed me to the correct gate.

Another security check awaited me.

Commence 3rd hand search of everything I packed. The security woman was friendly and seemed genuinely interested that I was moving to Bulgaria to be with my husband. She was a lot quicker and even opened one of the candles and commented on how good it smelled.

I found the gate and waited, and waited, and waited some more. The screen said Sofia and had the correct flight number, however, it said “Check in closed.” There were a few other people waiting, so I just sat down and re-packed both my bags. Check-in time came and went. 10 minutes before the flight was due to take off, an employee who had clearly just woken up from a nap rolled in. The flight started loading and he made me wait until every single other person had gotten onto the bus until he would talk to me. I had no boarding pass at this point and was just going off of a paper the BA agent in Heathrow had printed me. The still-sleepy man hand wrote me a boarding pass and onto another bus I went.

I should mention at this point that in addition to being exhausted and beyond upset, I was also very ill. The tiny bit of curry I had eaten hours before was catching up with me. It was all I could do to not vomit on the plane.

I could not have been happier to land in Sofia. Customs was the fastest it has ever been and I was practically running at this point to go see Vince.

Oh but the apparently pissed off travel-Gods had more in store for me…

Guess whose suitcases didn’t make it to Sofia? Yep. Add one more damn thing to my already awful day.

I dragged myself over to Lost & Found while trying to hold in the hysterics and growing rage. A nice woman sat me down and after getting my name told me that she had already gotten a phone call about my bags–they never made it out of London. I wasn’t even surprised at this point.

She told me they should arrive the next day (today) on the first flight from London to Sofia and that a courier would deliver them to our apartment.

I didn’t even care at this point. It’s just every bit of clothing that I own, but whatevs.

I walked out and there was my cute husband. He could tell that I was done. He tried to talk to me about it but I just told him I couldn’t and to wait until we got to the car. I had already sobbed in front of thousands of people earlier in the day, doing it again was out of the question.

A profanity-laced cry fest ensued the moment we got into the car. He doesn’t deal well with me crying, but he did his best to comfort me. We drove over to Hit to buy bedding for the apartment and made our way home. At this point I was out of it with exhaustion and barely registered that I was even back in Sofia.

After a quick shower and dinner, I was ready to pass out. Thankfully I had packed an extra t-shirt in my carry-on, so I had that to sleep in. I had no underwear, however, and after wearing the same pair for nearly two days, I was open to alternatives.  My only option was a pair of Vince’s boxer briefs. He’s quite thin (and I’m not), so it’s not the greatest look, but it works!

A good night’s sleep has helped to shake off most of the events of yesterday. Vince and I ate breakfast together and then he headed off to work. I don’t have much else to do today besides unpack my carry-ons and wait for the courier to {hopefully} deliver my luggage, so I thought a blog post was in order.

I’m still exhausted (thank you, jet lag) and not feeling very well, so I’m just going to veg out today and take it easy.

Hope you are all doing well!


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18 thoughts on “My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  1. Pingback: 2012: A Year in Review « Girl Meets Bulgaria

  2. Pingback: Thankful for the Little Things « Girl Meets Bulgaria

  3. That seriously bites, Whit. So sorry you had to deal with all those shenanigans, but I’m glad you’re with Vince now!

  4. Holly molly :)!Poor Wit! But so glad that you are already in Sofia.You’ll soon feel much better,I promise!:)))Enjoy as much as you can with Ventsi:)))

  5. Ugh, what a nightmare. I hate doing that crazy sprint to a boarding plane when a connection goes badly. Hope your luggage makes it to you soon!

  6. I can’t even imagine having all that drama. Remember when we flew separately to Europe for our cruise and I was in a panic because I couldn’t find my luggage (the very last item they put on the belt) and I went through costumes in France so I couldn’t find you or your mother.

    I am glad that you made it and are now with Vince!

  7. Holy crap…what a day! Good thing Vince was on the receiving end to meet you not sending you off… husbands are good at the end of days like that. 🙂 Tell him hi for us!

  8. What a nightmare. Glad you made it in one piece. I’m always suspicious of connections although I haven’t had any issues (knock on wood). My husband’s bags (and my parents’) have been delayed on more than once occasion so I’m just figuring my turn is next. Hopefully you can relax a little over the weekend. 😉

  9. I know this might not be the most appropriate thing to say, but I enjoyed reading your post. Haha. I was held in suspense until the last few paragraphs. But i feel for you. I once had luggage left as well (and i was going on a beach holiday!) and i know it can be quite a damper, especially since you already got through so many misfortunes earlier on. Still, you made it! Here’s to luckier travels in the future! 😄

  10. Sorry that you had these misfortunes on your return flight to Bulgaria. The important thing is that you got there! (Your luggage hopefully will be able to say the same very soon). I look forward to your further adventures in Bulgaria.

  11. What a mission! I probs should not have read this since i fly in 6 days 😉

    • Sorry! It’s not the most encouraging post is it? I had no idea how long it was until I published it. I just had to ramble and get everything off my chest. I don’t think most people experience quite so many horrible thigns in one day of travel; but then again, I know some people who have had worse. Just luck of the draw I guess! Best of luck with your travels! I’ll send out some positive vibes into the universe!

      Thanks for reading, W.

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