They said there would be time. To quote our travel agent: “The system is letting me book these connecting flights – so it must be okay.” Why would we doubt “the system”?
So we were flying from Berlin to Zurich with 45 minutes to hop on another plane to take us New York. We get to Tegel Airport in Berlin and our first flight is delayed because their ticketing system is down and they can’t check people in. Of course.
The flight lands about 10 minutes late. Naturally the gate we have to get to is on the other side of the terminal and within about five minutes of us stepping off the plane, the airport screens are saying our flight is “Boarding”. So we begin our cross-terminal sprint yelling “Pardon” and “Excuse me” and dodging the slow walkers, children, pensioners. There were a couple of near misses with children.
We get through the transit passport control, through the security check and then…hang on…second passport and security check specially designed for in-bound US flights?? What the? And they want the name of the place we’re staying in New York. Which I have…safely stored in my email account.
Now I know you’re supposed to provide an address but I’ve only ever had to provide it once you’re actually entering the country you plan to visit, never before getting on the plane to go there. My plan had been to log on to the email once we were in New York and get it then. My bad.
So we are at the first immigration desk, sweat pouring off us, with no address and we’re sent to another desk. The immigration officer there is extremely stroppy, won’t let us use his internet, I have to start up my lap top, and there’s no free airport wifi, and the air hostesses are threatening to close the flight, I’m trying to find a credit card so I can pay for some wi-fi time. The immigration officer is doing everything he can not to swear at us…I think I heard the words the words “You just can’t be possible.”
Eventually we get the address…we make the plane! Red-faced, puffing and still sweating but we made it. Hurray! But I felt very sorry for the man sitting next to us for the 7 hour flight.
Our bags did not make the plane. I very much enjoyed wandering through New York for a day in clothes that reeked of sweat. But thankfully SwissAir took responsibility for that…as they should…and gave us $100 each to buy some essentials until our bags arrived. Which included a new pair of jeans for me. And some clean underwear. Many thanks to “The system”.