I’m sitting at SFO, waiting to board my KLM flight. Vineet, a wonderful new friend of Kenya Help, found me a much cheaper flight than what I would have paid Emirates. So this year no Dubai. Instead, I pass through Amsterdam.
As usual, my son, Mark, picked me promptly and whizzed me off. The young couple checking in right before me seem to be having a packing problem, which they are solving on the floor, in front of the counter. The agent stands, watching. I’m puzzled because neither suitcase is very big and unless they are carry lead ingots, I can’t imagine the are over the 50# limit. My usual pre-check-in tension increases by an order of magnitude (that’s X10 for non-math folks). My bags weighed in at home around 49 +/–. RATS! If they are over the weight limit, how will I finagle this? Use the old lady plea, the “I’m taking many gifts to poor Kenyans, play the “Oh, I thought it was 53#’”. Oh, well, I’ll think of something.
Finally the young couple moves aside to complete their packing and it’s my turn. I’m grateful to Mark’s trainer, Jeff, for making him strong enough to lift my bags, which he pretends are easy. OK, first one passes. Second one? Yeah, that’s OK. My carry on (which I know to be over 18#) doesn’t raise any eyebrow. “Here are your boarding passes, and BTW, you have exactly 1 hour, 5 minutes transition time in Amsterdam. Enjoy your flight”. Next level of tension. Never been to Amsterdam. ARGH! Now I have to worry about that for 10 hours (and you will be in suspense until I make that flight—or don’t).
We agree to eat at the food court right by security. Mark has brought a great looking salad from the free lunch at work. Hmmm! Nothing here looks nearly as good, but I select a $15 chicken salad, consisting of iceberg lettuce, soggy croutons, a few shaves if Swiss cheese and what seems to be some sort of chicken spam. Never seen such a concoction, but I know it has been a very long time since whatever chicken might be in it saw a feather. I eat a bit, but decide to see what the KLM lounge has to offer instead.
Mark returns to work and I head off, following the KLM agent’s very careful directions, “It’s just beforesecurity (is that OK?), on level 5. This is level 3” OK, here’s an escalator. Hmmm, only goes to level 4. OK, there’s an elevator. Oops! Out of order. Back down to level 3, elevator is the same one only one floor down and, of course, is OOO! Information person informs me that the KLM lounge is aftersecurity, on the same level. Since the KLM agent wasn’t a native English speaker, I could understand confusing “before” and “after” but level 3 with level 5???” OK, now to security line. I have TSA Pre, but it doesn’t show on my ticket. Nonetheless, I am directed toward the “priority” line, which is several blocks shorter, thanks to my business class reservation.
I don’t like those new screening machines where one must “raise ‘em and spread ‘em”. I explain, as I always do, that I have a titanium rod in my arm and the old machine never reacts to it. “Oh, no, madam, it will just keep alarming.” “It never has.” His expression says, “OK, 82 year-old nitwit, see for yourself.” Imagine his disappointment when the alarm is as silent, as always. I find the lounge (on level 3), am duly welcomed and wander to the back. Agent has assured me it’s “really nice”, but—-well, I’d give it a C+. So far Emirates (passed years carrier) 2, KLM nada. It’s bound to get better.
Gate A8 sounds like it’s not too far. Right, A10 is farther, but I have to walk to A10 anyway because there are no book sellers closer to the hub. I choose something I’ve never heard of and hope for the best, then settle at A8 to await boarding. I note Zone 5 on my boarding pass and dutifully wait in a long line that’s going nowhere, wondering why KLM doesn’t give priority boarding to those of us having paid with an arm and a leg. Finally I note my ticket says I am sitting in Zone 5, but my boarding zone is 1, the short line. Now I am seated, we are somewhere over the north bay and I am ready to sample my book. More later
Near the end of the flight, the attendant to whom I had confided my concerns about the short layover time, came to tell me we were late. She could not guarantee I would make the flight. She looked worried. Generally, by the time I leave a long flight I am crippled and barely navigating. Not this time. I was up the gangway and searching for the flight schedule board almost before the dust settled. The board says Gate E19. I’m practically there! And so are all the other passengers. Evidently my Nairobi flight was also delayed. Definitely a case of hurry up and wait.
There are several families with many children sized small to large. One such seems to have a problem. Instead of pulling them aside so boarding could proceed, we all stand there, anxious to board and be settled, tired, and a bit irritable.
At last we are all boarded—well, I don’t know about the problematic large family, but the rest of us are on the way. The only hitch was a very narrow, rather steep stairway to business class. Where was the person who always says, “May I help you with that, madam? “ Three attendants stand at the top, all making conciliatory noises, but not reaching out to give me a final hand. ARGH! Getting old is such a nuisance. But here I am, winging my way over somewhere—can’t see out the window, so I don’t know where. Actually, since is the real deal and not a map, even if I could see out, I probably wouldn’t see any labels of “France”, “Belgium” or “Italy”. How thoughtless they are.
This must be an old plane. No wifi, so I can’t send this yet. RATS!