Sorry about going “dark” for so long, folks, but re-entry into life in the States has been a bit of a whirlwind.
Kris and I started our return to the States last Saturday with a 5:00 departure from our hotel in Santiago to the airport there. When we entered the terminal, we were surprised by the long line at the Iberia counter, but eventually another agent opened a station and we found ourselves in the hands of a very kind man who was able to check our bags all the way to Minneapolis, but alas, he could not issue our boarding passes for our flights on US Airways/American Airlines.
We arrived in Madrid around 8:00 a.m. and had five hours to spare in the airport, but first, we had to find a US Airways counter so that we could get our boarding passes. This was not as easy as one might have thought. After roaming around looking for some signs to direct us to the ticketing areas (there were none) and asking two different people, we finally found out that we had to leave the secure area of the terminal to do so. After arriving at the ticketing area, we were greeted with rows and rows of Iberia stations, but none that said US Air and you guessed it, there was no map to indicate where to go. An agent who was standing outside the line told us where to go and we finally found the US Air Check in. It took several minutes and several consults with other agents before we finally were told that we could check in at the Kiosk to get our boarding passes (why the agents could not have issued them for us is beyond me, but I’m sure that they had very important personal conversations to catch up on.
With our boarding passes secured, we cleared Security and found a place to eat, again, not so easy a proposition at 9:30 in the morning. We found places to eat, but none of them had anything appealing; I mean Sushi at 9:30 with a beer just doesn’t cut it.
When we decided to go to our gate, we were surprised that we had another security checkpoint to pass before we could enter the gate area. (We didn’t have to do the metal detector or anything like that, but the agent asked us if we had packed our own bags, or if we had accepted anything from anyone to take to the States etc. We said, “No,” and were promptly let in.
The boarding process for US Air made a Marx Brothers film look like one of Patton’s Campaigns. Let’s just say that they aren’t all on the same page at the Madrid airport. We showed our boarding passes and were sent down this interminably long ramp to … a bus! When the bus finally filled up, we were sent to our aircraft. Now priot to going down the cattle ramp, we were told that if our seats were in 16 or above that we should enter in the back of the plane. When the bus stops and the driver finally lets us out — there was another wait while US Air personnel were catching up on their texts, their Friday nights, etc., they weren’t doing much in the way of work, or so it appeared — we finally left the bus and went to the back entrance to the plane. Just as we approached the stairs (yes, you had to climb a mountain of stairs to enter the plane) the crew beginst to shoo us away. As Kris and I walk back to the front door, a US Air agent sheepishly says, “Sorry for the confusion.”
Just as Kris and I begin to approach the stairs for the front entrance, another bus pulls up and ALL of them enter via the back entrance. As we entered the plane it was a free for all trying to get your seat with people needed to stop in the aisles to tell friends where they were, etc. We finally plomped in our seats for the 7 hour ride home.
The seats were very comfortable in the cabin and the crew was very nice, but 1/3rd of the TV monitors did not work. So much for catching up on your movies during the return home. Mine did work, but alas, Kris’ did not. She managed to catch a few “z’s” during the flight.
We arrived in Philadelphia and I was excited to use my Global Entry membership for the first time. Global entry expedites your movement through Immigration and Customs, and it worked like a charm. The only drag was that we had to go through Security again in the Philly airport.
What struck us as odd in the Philly airport was that the number of sit down places to eat was so few and their quality was so poor. MSP is light years ahead of Philly when it comes to dining in the airport. By this time, we were both contemplating our returns home and getting re-aquainted with our showers.
It was a very long day, close to 22 hours of travel, but we arrived safely at MSP. Our Camino had come to an end, on one level, but was just beginning on another.
Thanks to all my readers. Please check back from time to time as I want to continue writing, though I won’t be writing about travel. Vale, Vale, Vale!