Cancellations, Delays and Missed Connections…Our Journey back to Abuja
Delayed and cancelled flights are no fun. It usually requires numerous hours on the phone with a ticket operator and an unhealthy level of stress as you race through the airport trying to catch your connecting flights.
As we were preparing to travel back from the U.S. to Abuja, we experienced a cancellation on Air France. Around 11:00am on Monday morning, I received an email from Air France telling me that my 6:55pm flight to Paris had been canceled and Sheila and I were re-booked on a 9:05pm flight that would arrived in Paris at 10:30am. While that sounds good, our connecting flight to Abuja was scheduled for 11:00am. We would only have 30 minutes to make our connecting flights in one of the largest, chaotic airports in Europe. Knowing that Sheila did not have a visa to France, I didn’t want to spend 24 hours in an airport after we missed our connection. I called Air France and started the process of changing our booking. After nearly 60 minutes on the phone, Sheila and I were re-booked on a Lufthansa flight that would depart at 6:05pm and arrive in Frankfurt at 8:25am. I was very familiar with this flight and happy to be on a star alliance member as I have Gold Status (it came in handy on this trip).
God had other things in store for us. After getting checked in and settling down in the Lufthansa Lounge at Dulles airport, it was announced that the 6:05pm flight to Frankfurt would be delayed, as the aircraft hadn’t arrived. Thunderstorms in the DC region had forced the plane to divert to Toronto. Our flight was now rescheduled for 9:15pm, which meant there was a 95 percent chance we would miss our connecting flight to Abuja. The fear of spending 24 hours in the airport was starting to settle in…
Our flight arrived in Frankfurt at 10:30am and we were off to the races. Our arrival gate and departure gate were as far apart as any gate could be! We had to walk 35 minutes and take a 5-minute tram. We were making good time until we hit German security…I breezed through but Sheila was tagged and had to have her bags searched. As the officer took his time to go through Sheila’s bag, I was losing hope that we would make our connection. Two other Nigerian couples arrived at security and proceeded through while Sheila and I waited for the officer to inspect every inch of her bag. Finally, he finished his inspection and we were off once again. When we arrived at B60, I could tell that we were late and the gate agent confirmed that we had missed the flight. She made sure to remind us that they had “held the plane for as long as they could…” We also encountered the two other Nigerian couples…who suffered that same fate as us.
The Lufthansa lounge in Frankfurt re-booked our tickets and informed us that because of Sheila’s passport, we would be unable to leave the airport. She suggested we settle in for the long haul. Thankfully, my Gold status allow us to access the Lufthansa lounge (for the entire day).
We have been able to sleep on nice couches, eat a variety of food and drink everything from tea to beer to mojitos. We have been trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation…