This might not be a flight from hell, but unfortunately it’s the “New Normal.”
A few times a year I visit my elderly parents over a long weekend in Hamburg, Germany, usually flying Delta/Air France. Leaving Friday, the plane to Atlanta was delayed and I barely made the connection to CDG (Paris).
We left on time just to sit at the end of the runway for 30 minutes, until the captain announced a minor issue requiring a return trip to the gate for repairs. Another hour later we were on our merry way, getting off the plane in Paris just as the last boarding call for the 8.00 am Hamburg flight was announced.
There was no way to change terminals and clear security again in time, so Air France rebooked me for the next available flight. Apparently April 1 is a major holiday in Paris; all flights were full until 8.55 pm. I was told I could check other airlines, pay for a ticket, and be refunded the portion of the trip. When I expressed disappointment for losing one of three days with my family, they threw in a 15 Euro meal voucher and told me I could spend the day in Paris.
Thanks to Trip Advisor I figured out how to take the RER train downtown, spent a lovely day walking along the Seine from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower, and rode a boat back to the train station. The leg to Hamburg was fine as was the visit with family.
On the way back the plane was late leaving Hamburg, reducing the layover in Paris to only an hour. CDG passport control was a disaster! Hundreds of people leaving and only five of eight booths open. It took 45 minutes to get through, more time to get to a bus, a trip around what seemed like half the airport, and a long run to the gate. Air France actually held the plane and delayed departure by 20 minutes.
Arriving in Atlanta around 5 pm the line towards passport control for US passport holders went almost all the way back to the gate area. Thanks to exactly THREE officers checking US passports for hundreds of passengers, it took me 90 minutes to get through. There were plenty of people in uniform herding passengers and yelling at us that all of this was in the interest of security and to be patient.
Even the Delta rebooking desk was better staffed with 6 people. A group of Germans in line with me had waited 3 1/2 hours to get through passport control and did not even want to stay in the US, they were just passing through on their way to South America. After security with a snarky TSA person telling me to take my shoes off since they don’t accept “TSA-precheck,” I made it home on a later, uneventful flight.
I am not exactly looking forward to the next trip to see the folks! God help us if this is the “New Normal”!