The longest day

It actually lasted two days but by the intensity of troubles and events, felt like one.
Early morning on December 18th, I woke up and take a look through a window: dark heavy clouds over Belgrade didn`t feel promising at all. A bit later, while a friend of mine was driving me to the airport, a heavy snow started. On the Lufthansa counter they didn`t know what to tell me about a situation in Frankfurt, only that some flights were delayed and some of them cancelled – but what the hell, I thought, once you get into system, system will take care of you. Hey, it was a beggining of an adventure, why not to spice it a little bit. What terrible could happen, right?
It didn`t happen as I expected.

We were about an hour late in departing from Belgrade and once getting to Frankfurt, needed to wait for flight control to let us lend. So we circled and circled and circled and it was I think our 6th or 7th circle on the sky when they gave us a green light. So we did, just in time for me to miss the flight for Calgary :irked: Ten lousy minutes :doh: Ok, what to do next, I asked a girl at the informations but she just waved her hand toward Lufthansa counters, not even bothering to look at my direction.
"Go wait there…"
I was a bit annoyed by that, hey I`m a customer, a bit of compassion and politeness won`t hurt but… what the hell, those… 300+ people probably asked her the same question :left: The next annoyance came few minutes later, there were only one person working behind a counter and she probably spent more than 15 minutes per passenger to try to solve a problem :doh: Fortunately, a lot of my fellows in trouble thought the same way as I did so they started to complain louder and louder and soon there were 4 people working there. Ok, I thought, soon I will be on a next available flight and it will be just a small annoyance. At the same time, a sky over Frankfurt cleared and sun made a bad day a bit easier.

It didn`t happen as I expected.
A girl behind a counter told me there were not available flights for that day so she transfered me to Air France flight to Paris next morning, telling me that there will be enough time to catch a connecting flights to Toronto and Vancouver. She gave me a vouchers for taxi to and from hotel in Frankfurt, voucher for a hotel and two meals, smiled and wished me a safe trip tomorrow. Well, what the hell, I thought, I will take a short walk by the Main river, spend a night at the hotel, and go to Paris next morning. A day was nice, sky blue and clear, being a little late won`t be THAT kind of problem, right? Only if that headache I got in a meantime would go…

It didn`t happen as I expected.
Because of terrible headache I couldn`t fall asleep before midnight, despite clean white sheets on my bed and a great long hot shower I had. At 1 a.m. San sent me a text message that my 7:25 flight to Paris was already delayed and I won`t make it in time to get to connecting flight. I jumped out of bed and went to airport immediatelly to see if anything could be done. By that time it started to snow again… seriously this time :left: Of course, no one at the airport didn`t know anything about delaying so I spent another couple of hours wandering around a, suddenly, empty airport looking at some "unfortunate" people who slept there on mobile beds and were not lucky as I was to have a hotel and two meals… Then I met a girl who spent the night on one of those beds and she told me that later in the afternoon, Lufthansa brought those beds to airport because it seems no hotels were available by that time – too many delayed flights, too many people to take care about. And she told me it would be smart to avoid that kind of sleeping there, and something about 500 people and only one shower and such things :left: Well, soon I will be out of here, one way or another, no need to be THAT worried, right? Right?

It didn`t happen as I expected.
First, they told me my 7:25 flight was cancelled, then they put me on another flight to Paris at 9:00. It was close to boarding time so I ran to another part of the airport to make it in time. They opened a new ticket for me and I was revealed, ok, flight was not delayed nor cancelled, I will make it in time and…. 15 minutes later my flight was cancelled. In return they offered me a train to Paris which I was smart enough to refuse (later I heard on the news that train ended stuck in snow somewhere in France).
By that time I realised everything has gone to hell and Lufthansa people just didn`t know what to do. I returned to the main hall to try to find another way to solve the problem and…. I ended up in a line along with about 3000 people waiting for the same thing :ko: I felt a bit desperate, I admit, and after 2 hours I sent an text message to San that maybe, I won`t make it this time and who knows how many days I will spend here. I was sleepy, hungry, tired and still adrenaline ran through my veins which made me even more shaky and tired. At one point, there was a Danish couple in front of me, woman looking at me and asking me if I feel all right. I told her about what I have experienced in last 24 hours so her husband kindly offered to go and buy me a sandwich and a bottle of water. I was so grateful, my mouth was too dry I could barely speak. I told them that they just saved my life there. I am sorry for I didn`t ask for their names because I would like to mention them here. They are about my age and just arrived from Calgary this morning….

San, on the same time had another sleepless night in Vancouver but she gave me some important news. It seems that not a single intercontinental flight was cancelled, they were late but not cancelled; and that on 5 p.m. there was Air Canada flight to Toronto; and that there were free seats available. So I grabbed the timetable from a nearby shelf and checked: there were flights to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and, I think, New York that afternoon. I made a firm decision that I will never let them put me on another European flight, because I will be stuck there forever and I know I won`t be able to make through another night at the airport, that would be simply too much…
After 5 hours, when I was almost at the counter something unexpected happened – 4 Italian guys who just arrived there, pushed me and my fellow Danish saviours and just stood in front of us. I became really mad and tried to explain them that this was not the end of the line but the biggest of them (who only spoke some English) told me to be quiet and gave me one of those mean look at the eyes. Which made me even more mad. I told him to move or I will call the police and that word seems to be some sort of password that made them quiet and obedient. They moved behind me and pushed some guy from Kenya who thought it won`t be smart to argue with them. I tried to argue more but it seems that other people found that fine and not a big reason to fight. So I quit. There were some important things to focus too…

When I finaly got there, I didn`t even give the poor man a possibility to say anything: I told him that I already spent 24 hours there, that I know there are 4 flights "over the pond" that afternoon and that at least on one of them there are available seats. First, he hesitated, tried to put me on some kind of waiting list for the next day, which I refused cutting him in the middle of whatever he wanted to say. I told him that I know, a snow is not their fault, but not giving me the same option yesterday was, and that I don`t intend to stay there anymore. And that I know my rights about returning money policy. I insisted and insisted and finaly he agreed and put me on Air Canada`s flight at 5 that afternoon :hat: It was enough for me and I went immediately through all security checks and passport control and set myself at the gate. A plane was there and it was about an hour before boarding time.
The rest of that afternoon and night is just a blur in my memory: we were about 90 minutes late in taking off but it didn`t bother me at all. Somewhere over England, just after sweeping a meal in, what felt like one big swallow, I fainted and woke up a little bit before landing in Toronto. We were late for my next flight, of course, but they were very efficient there and in less than hour I was on another flight to Vancouver where I landed at around 1:30 a.m. local time, on Monday…

Later on the news, I`ve heard there was a fight among people on the Frankfurt airport. And 3 days later some of them were still stuck there…

After all I was taught a good lesson: a system will never solve a problem for you, once you got stuck with something major. You must think and find a solution even if it means going slightly around system`s rules. Otherwise, system would solve it when it will be too late for you :left:

And I managed to make one nice photograph of Frankfurt :happy:

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57 Responses to The longest day

  1. intothedeep says:

    What an ordeal!! I think you're right and were smart to take matters into your own hands…cutting through the bureaucracy. Who knows how long you would have been grounded eitherwise. It can be draining though, yes? How long was the flight to Canada? I would have felt so antsy at that point.Anyway, all is done. Something you can share with your grandkids :DI'm happy for you, Dare. πŸ˜€ Hope you keep the same attitude and cut through any protocol that will delay you from experiencing the happiness you deserve! :up:

  2. sanshan says:

    I wouldn't let him give up though I knew how difficult it was. There is always a solution, that's my motto. Thank you Dare for your great persistence and patience. :heart: It was worth it wasn't it! :happy:

  3. Suntana says:

    :insane: Day-Um! That was the Mother of all Flight Nightmares.When the 4 Italian guys cut in line and refused to move, you should have gone, "LOOK! I'm gonna give you 4 A-Holes ONE warning. I'm a Bad Ass Martial Artist with a short fuse right now. You move to the back of the line … or I am gonna get my Can Opener and personally open a Can of Whoop Ass on you four Scumballs. So, there's one question y'all have to ask yourselves … 'Do we feel lucky?' Well DO you, PUNKS?!" :mad:Or something to that effect.

  4. intothedeep says:

    Well you know what they say, San. Behind every good man is a great woman! I'm thinking you have as much spunk as he! :DCongratulations!! πŸ™‚

  5. Suntana says:

    It would have made for even more great Blog drama if after the 4 Italian guys moved behind you, you would have gone, "Perhaps you didn't hear me. I didn't mean just move out from in front of me. I said move to the BACK of the friggin' line, you Cockroaches! Or would y'all like my fists and my Size 12s to escort your ugly faces back there?"

  6. Suntana says:

    But, he wouldn't have been mean.He would have been perfectly justified.He would have been doing everyone behind the Bullies a favor.He would have been the hero.There would have been cheers, whistling and clapping. Then again, he might have been delayed again after some local Talk Shows would insist that Darko make appearances. Okay, so that's the only thing that stopped Darko from busting some heads. He knew he would have been shy in front of the TV cameras.

  7. intothedeep says:

    πŸ˜† Be scared. Be very scared.My guess is that Dare is NO push-over, but he's not mean person.

  8. Dacotah says:

    Good lesson to learn. Great photo. πŸ™‚

  9. intothedeep says:

    I once got stuck in NYC due to bad weather, they first suggested a train ride home. Ugh!!! That would have been like an hour back into the city, then God only knows how long of a trip back to boston. I think waiting awhile for air travel always pays off.

  10. intothedeep says:

    πŸ˜† Okay, I can see it now. Oprah is so impressed and decides to interview Dare. She has this way of breaking through into people's sentimental sides and Dare can't help confess that he told those airline people to:STOP in the name of love before it breaks my heart…think it over.What a show!! πŸ˜€

  11. Stardancer says:

    Wow. What an adventure.That is so cool that San helped you through it like that. You two make a great team!:smile:

  12. KYren says:

    Yeah, you are right about the systems. I am in favore of getting a way around them. You know that. :bandit: :ninja:

  13. Suntana says:

    How long would the train ride have been had it not gotten stuck in the snow. I would think it was a stupid idea to have even been suggested considering that everyone is on a tight schedule virtually no time to spare to make connections. So, I wouldn't think a train ride would be an exactly speedy factor in the equation.

  14. Suntana says:

    Actually, Mags, Barbara Walters is the ultimate obnoxious nosy one who is infamous for making interviewees cry. πŸ˜₯ :insane: I can't stand her.

  15. thaodp says:

    Such an adventure. I'm agree that you'll have something special to share with your grandkids ;)Can't stop laughing when reading these comments πŸ˜† Thank Mags and Suntana for an interesting… movie πŸ˜†

  16. sanshan says:

    Grandkids? This is news to me. :no:

  17. thaodp says:

    πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  18. gdare says:

    Hm, no one said my Frankfurt photo is nice, yet :awww::PAnyway…Mags, if I caught that flight to Calgary, it would last about 10 hours. Plus one and one hours from Belgrade to Frankfurt and about the same from Calgary to Vancouver… all in all about 13 hours of flight only. This way it lasted about 14 hours plus about 35 hours airports time :irked:Carol, thanks :DSan, it was worth it to the last drop of sweat I lost there :happy:Carlos, 3 of those 4 Italians were really big men, especially the one I was talking to you. About 7 foot tall and about 120kg of muscles in him. But I was counting on police actually, they were really nervous because of so many nervous and angry people at the airport and were patroling there armed with H&K MP5 automatic rifles. No one wanted to mess with them :left:Star, we already know that :DKyren, I know. We people from a so called 3rd world have to be ready to do that. Only, I was not expecting this to happen in Germany….Mit, grandkids? :whistle:

  19. studio41 says:

    WOW! what a tale to be told over and over as time goes by… "It didn`t happen as I expected." a lasting theme for all of this, but the best things are well worth the wait and trouble and turmoil to get there, as you have found to be true :)a lovely picture of Frankfurt for your album! and what is Paris without San to enjoy it with anyway? (those Italian bubbas were lucky you weren't donning your sword.) :furious: :knight: a talk about the weather has never been so involved! glad the worst is over and the best is yet to come.

  20. There2ia says:

    Darko, It was a terrible time for you and San when you had a plan and schedule with you… but at the end it was worthy and A happy time for both of you… you have titlled it as an adventure and it was…:)The picture looks fantastic…Originally posted by gdare:

    Carlos, 3 of those 4 Italians were really big men, especially the one I was talking to you. About 7 foot tall and about 120kg of muscles in him. But I was counting on police actually, they were really nervous because of so many nervous and angry people at the airport and were patroling there armed with H&K MP5 automatic rifles. No one wanted to mess with them

    Yeah when we are in a certain situation, we would be so brave to do something that we would not do in a normal situation… πŸ™‚

  21. Dacotah says:

    "Hm, no one said my Frankfurt photo is nice, yet"Originally posted by Dacotah:

    Great photo.

    I said it was. :DYou are welcome. πŸ™‚

  22. Spaggyj says:

    What a hellish ordeal. But totally worth it in the end, right? πŸ˜€ Man, you've the patience of a freakin' saint – if it were me I'd have been hysterical by the time those guys pushed me and nowhere near as sensible and collected as you were. I'm so glad you got through it all, and it all paid off in the end.And yes, it is a really beautiful photo πŸ˜€

  23. Furie says:

    Talk about against all odds. It probably would've been quicker to fake a Canadian identity and plant a fake bomb (the sort that looks real but just gives out a flag with the word Bang on it), getting yourself deported "back" to Canada. :up: I notice no mention was made of my reindeer coming to save you. πŸ˜‰

  24. There2ia says:

    Originally posted by Furie:

    I notice no mention was made of my reindeer coming to save you.

    Has your reindeer come back to you? or Darko keeps it for the next trip to "go home" to Canada? πŸ˜†

  25. Mickeyjoe-Irl says:

    Wow, :faint:I heard all kind of horror stories of Irish people trying to get home for Christmas. (Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and Ferries πŸ™„ ) And you didn't even have those options. At least the trip back was less eventful.

  26. gdare says:

    Originally posted by studio41:

    but the best things are well worth the wait and trouble and turmoil to get there,

    Agree completely :yes:Teresia, my main concern was not to be late for trip to Tofino. And I wasn`t :happy:Carol, sorry, my bad :doh: I am still jetlagged my brain works on 2Hz :zzz:Kimmie, I was talking to myself to stay calm and patient and not to jeopardize our plans. Otherwise, I would probably call the police at once and got stuck with them explaining what happened and who made a trouble. Then, filling all those forms and statements… it was not that worth. And they calmed down, anyway…Mik, you would not believe a level of security on the airport. Before even reaching a plane I went through 2 rings of security (with bags scanners and body search) and then, just before boarding, another one, organised by Air Canada itself. And police armed with long barrels and police in civil suits… Planting a fake bomb would be a bad idea, very bad one :insane:Mick, I have heard and watched the news about Heathrow. It seems it was even worse there. It seems that entire Europe has a lack of anti-icing liquid for airplanes, and that made a cherry on top of the entire fruit cake. No one expected a winter like this :left:

  27. SittingFox says:

    Oh, poor Darko! :faint: Things were very bad in England at the time as well. I've learnt the hard way that train companies don't do anything to help you, but both times I've got stuck in Canada I've been helped out by my airline. /remembers never to get stuck anywhere while travelling with Lufthansa :insane:

  28. Dacotah says:

    That's okay Darko. πŸ˜€

  29. intothedeep says:

    Btw, your Frankfurt photo is nice, very nice πŸ™‚ :up:

  30. SqueakeyCat says:

    Look at it this way. Lessons learned. At least everything worked out in the end!

  31. gdare says:

    Calgary airport was on the beginning of a big storm when we landed on Saturday afternoon. Visibility was less than 100m with a strong wind and snow. But it seemed to me people were comfortable with those conditions and no one made problem with that. And no cancelled and/or delayed flights even though I could see a warning on a TV that people should avoid driving and better remain at home. In Belgrade, they would probably close the airport :left:

  32. gdare says:

    Adele, I must say I was amazed by the efficiency of people employed at Toronto airport. When I arrived, I managed to go through passport control, claim baggage, go through customs, get a new flight and be on the airplane in less than hour. And this is a busiest airport in Canada :left:Kim, exactly :DMags πŸ˜† I knew my remark will make effect πŸ˜€

  33. SittingFox says:

    I usually get out of Calgary Airport within half an hour of landing. You get off the plane, get through checks, pick up your luggage and go! :up:

  34. funz81 says:

    My Goodness! I agree with Kimmie, you have the patience of a saint!And oh, another lesson probably would be: avoid winter flights πŸ˜€

  35. MirabelaTM says:

    What a complicated trip Darko! But I'm glad that all it was worthed at the end πŸ™‚

  36. gdare says:

    Fan, even more: to avoid connecting flights that take off 1 hour after a previous one :left:Mira, it was :happy:

  37. funz81 says:

    Ugh that's always a pain, I hate running around the airport with heavy bags trying to find the right gate :ko: On my last flight to Indonesia we had over 6 hours to kill in Amsterdam, that was already too much for me… Can't imagine being stranded like you were.

  38. gdare says:

    I was stuck once at the Milan airport, on my way home from Japan, in October 2006. After 13 hours spent in airplane, I`ve found that flight from Milan to Belgrade was cancelled. Spent another 17 hours at the airport, without food and water, because Alitalia failed to provide it. Back then I needed visa for travelling in EU countries and I didn`t have one :ko:

  39. There2ia says:

    Originally posted by funz81:

    On my last flight to Indonesia

    Fan, where did you go, Bali?

  40. raniakasim says:

    in spite all of these problem u have faced , i think it is a kind of adventure in ur daily life , u can call it the luckless day , take it easy Darko , it has ended

  41. funz81 says:

    Dark, so you're kind of used to it, eh? lolTeresia, am from a town called Bandung πŸ™‚ saw on your profile page that you grew up in Indonesia as well, yay! πŸ˜€

  42. claudeb says:

    "After all I was taught a good lesson: a system will never solve a problem for you, once you got stuck with something major. You must think and find a solution even if it means going slightly around system`s rules. Otherwise, system would solve it when it will be too late for you."

    Heh. I wish more people understood that. The "system" is less and less able to accomplish anything. What little is still working on this planet is due to individuals or relatively small organizations and communities, with the largest-scale good things happening at city level.Come to think of it, you've given me an idea:- The world's economy is breaking down.- Corporate culture is breaking down.- Air travel is breaking down.- The EU is breaking down.- National states are breaking down.Have we gone too far? Are we racing towards a collapse of civilization due to our own obsession with doing more, faster, just for the sake of it? Worth an article, don't you think? Not that it's a new idea.

  43. claudeb says:

    Originally posted by gdare:

    But I was counting on police actually, they were really nervous because of so many nervous and angry people at the airport and were patroling there armed with H&K MP5 automatic rifles. No one wanted to mess with them

    That sounds like the German police all right. They look badass and probably are badass, but you don't feel threatened with them around, you feel safer. Romanian police is the other way around, and that sucks.

  44. There2ia says:

    Fan, Bandung… yeah I know this town… Thanks for visiting my profile… welcome…

  45. gdare says:

    Rania, you won`t believe how happy I was when it was all over :hat:Fan, I hope it will never happen. But my hopes and reality are sometimes on a different sides :left:Felix, you are right about police, I must admit that. I felt safe with them on the airport. On the other hand, our police… Few weeks ago we had a pool on one of our newspapers` web site, about corruption. Police was No. 1 without any serious competition. I know few people who are policemen and not crooked and feel sorry for them because they work with coleagues who are polluting all of them :left:Ed, one morning I looked thwough a window and saw a mountain on the south – east. I asked San what it is and she said: Mount Baker! Then I checked on wikipedia and saw that Spokane was not that far away as I first thought. So, one day, maybe we will go to have a lunch on that Thai restaurant and have a couple of beers too :cheers:

  46. edwardpiercy says:

    "I fainted and woke up a little bit before landing in Toronto"I've heard that a lot of people faint when they are heading into Toronto. :p It's just that kind of exciting place.Well I think you certainly have had an adventure, one you will never forget. Just go to your prior post and look at the nice pictures of you and San…:D :up:

  47. edwardpiercy says:

    That would be fine with me. Yeah we'll all have noodles and drink a couple of Tsing Ha's.Woops, make that Kokanee. :p

  48. edwardpiercy says:

    Oh and BTW, totally off-topic but I was just reading this morning that Croatian wood is very good to make violins because with the weather there it makes the wood more dense. :up:

  49. gdare says:

    πŸ˜†

  50. studio41 says:

    Originally posted by gdare:

    you won`t believe how happy I was when it was all over

    :yes:

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