Our Moving Experience From Stateside To Italy
Nothing else screams jet lag than the fact that I am writing this at 3:20 AM local time in Italy on 6 May. To give you an idea, it is about 7:20 PM stateside on 5 May. Don't worry, I feel very rested, but it probably won't last and I'll be headed back to bed around noon.
To be 100% with you, I don't even know where to begin on explaining how exhausting it was to physically move from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Italy other than referencing one of my favorite Tim Burton movies, The Series of Unfortunate Events.
So, let me ask you a series of questions: Ever feared missing a flight? Ever feared of a delayed flight and how it would impact the rest of your flight? Ever feared of a canceled flight? How about lost luggage? I hope you get where I'm going with this.
On the day before we officially began our move to Italy, George and I stopped by Albuquerque's Sunport to check-in for our flight since we were unable to do this through the app due to a special circumstance which is... we were traveling on orders. I personally have never traveled on orders internationally, but I soon found out that George can ONLY travel using his military ID and orders and airline apps like American Airlines ask for passport info instead. Lo and behold, we were able to check-in.
Finally, the first step of this move began at Albuquerque's Sunport the following day. We arrived at the airport 3 hours before our departure time, checked-in our luggage, got our boarding passes, totally in denial of the fact that this was a "move" and not a "vacation", went through TSA pre-check (man, that was a breeze!) and sat around until boarding. Basically, everything went smoothly in Albuquerque which is a surprise to me because nothing ever goes smoothly in Albuquerque (at least for the past 10 years I've lived there).
While on our way, a thunderstorm decided to brew in Chicago which eventually left us flying around Chicago in an oval-like shape for the next 2 hours. Since flying around in circles was never taken into account, we were running out of fuel and landed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin instead. The storm persisted and we were left sitting in the plane for about another hour. Around this time, we were still optimistic since our flight to London Heathrow wasn't leaving until 7 PM.
We had the time or thought we did.
After the air traffic controllers figured out their numbers, we were finally given the "GO" signal and headed to the runway, still optimistic that we will make it to our flight. Then things took a turn again where we spent the next 45 minutes sitting on the runway. At this point, we were a little worried, just a little.
Eventually, we took off and headed to Chicago O'Hare which is about a 22-minute flight from Milwaukee and we were back to circling around Chicago, but this time with enough fuel and definitely not enough time to make it to our next flight.
Basically, our plane to London Heathrow took off just about 10 minutes before we landed. REST IN PEACE. The rest of our flights are officially screwed.
Luckily, American Airlines rebooked us for the next outgoing flight which was around 10:00 PM. We are once again optimistic. Normally, international flights begin boarding around 45 minutes before departure, but it never happened for our 10:00 PM flight. We sat, we waited and surprise! They decided to delay our flight to 11:30 PM which was justified because man, the weather took a turn for the worst. After delaying our flight, they decided to delay it once again and this time in 15-minute increments.
To give you an idea, we have been at the airport from ABQ, on a flight that got diverted, landed in Chicago O'Hare, dealt with customer service, grabbed a quick bite just 10 minutes before every single restaurant closed for the day for a total of 8 hours. Yup, the time difference is calculated. You can probably imagine how exhausted and how gross we felt at this point.
American Airlines kept us in suspense for about 2 hours and eventually canceled the flight at 1 AM. We then had to deal with customer service again about rebooking our and they were able to rebook us with British Airways. Our next flight was set to depart 16 hours from when our flight was canceled. That is a really long time.
All I wanted to do at this point was: shower, get some rest and start over the next day. Thankfully, American Airlines provided us with a voucher for a hotel (which was incredibly nice - 4 stars), a taxi cab to and from the airport, a breakfast voucher worth $7/each and a dinner voucher worth $12/each.
SEE INSTAGRAM POST ON WHAT WE GOT WITH OUR FOOD VOUCHER: WEFORTHREEBLOG
Before leaving the airport, we asked multiple American Airlines employees about our luggage. Each confidently informed us that they will re-route our luggage and we were free to take all of them from baggage claim or only take what we needed. We took 1 out of 5 bags before leaving the airport and trusted them to send our luggage to our next flight.
THE NEXT DAY:
Well, first thing's first, as mentioned, American Airlines was able to rebook us with British Airways the night the flight was canceled. Peachy. Except, when we were about to get our boarding passes with British Airways that afternoon: 3 hours before our 5 PM flight, we were told that they did not rebook us properly and they couldn't find us in the system. Thank God, British Airways was able to book us from their end. I would have lost it honestly. We were able to check in the ONE luggage we chose to get from our canceled flight and all is well.
From here on out, it was smooth flying. We actually took off, landed in London Heathrow, took off again and landed in Venice. When we were in baggage claim, we stood for quite some time waiting for our luggage. We were able to retrieve the ONE suitcase we checked in with British Airways and that was it. Yup, 4 other suitcases from the American Airlines flight never made it.
At this point, we are jet-lagged, grumpy, in a new country with very little understanding of Italian. Thank goodness the rest of the world know English because if they didn't we would have been so screwed. We were able to put a claim for our luggage and we were contacted the next day when our luggage finally arrived in Venice. We got our 4 suitcases, but they totally mishandled one of the suitcases marked "heavy" and broke it. Literally, wheels were coming off and handles were unusable.
For the most part, I think American Airlines handled majority of the issues fairly well, we appreciated the vouchers, their planes are definitely equipped with some of the best features, but cancelling our flight when the weather calmed down a bit was a little too sissy of a move for them, granted that was probably a call made by the air traffic controllers and was out of their control. However, I still felt like they sloppily handled the rebooking of flights, as well as redirecting us to deal with British Airways instead about our lost/delayed luggage when everything started going wrong on their end. Also, I might be slightly pissed that a well functioning suitcase was destroyed.
Would we fly with them again? Maybe, unless given the choice not to. Would we pick up all of the luggage from baggage claim after being rebooked with another airline, ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY - we don't care how many or how heavy, at least we can only blame ourselves if something goes wrong.
To say the least, it was such an unpleasant experience and what meant to be a 1-day travel altogether turned to 3 days was even more infuriating, but at least Italy is for sure making up for it by being so beautiful.