LOTs more of this pun lies ahead…

I awoke one morning and decided this was the summer to visit Gdansk, with Anna Grace my willing (?) travel buddy. Perhaps a Sandman had whispered into my ear one night, “Visit Polish Copenhagen. You will be impressed.”  And what do you know? Gdansk impressed both of us, even making Anna Grace the envy of friends who were either slogging through tourist-dense European cities and beaches, or air mattress-testing their way through their American home leave by attempting to visit every friend and family member they had not seen since the previous summer.

“We start engine and then we fly.”

We flew the national carrier of my people, with connections in Warsaw. The check-in for Vienna to Warsaw was of course with issue; the folks at the Austrian/Star Alliance desk only fluently speak “Austrian Airlines.”   With the Economy fare I purchased I was offered the option to check baggage for a fee. At the appropriate hours before the flight I checked both of us in, but could not pay for a checked bag. A telephone call to LOT solved the problem and I printed my receipt, just in case.

At the airport there was no record of my having paid to check the bag, and the kind kiosk attendant ushered us to “Special Assistance.” A full 20 minutes were spent trying to connect the receipt with the bag so the computers would not reject the bag during sorting. Would not it be simpler to just let everyone check one bag for free?,  I wondered.

On a 50 minute flight one should not set unreasonable expectations regarding snacks and beverages; I can report that our expectations were met.The Polish version of a chubby KitKat was offered on the taxi; and the tiny cup of water was offered as we were landing.

Warsaw-Gdansk started strong. We boarded the bus a full minute ahead of schedule, and everyone dutifully filed on board the Bombadier prop. Cabin doors were cross-checked; and the Captain announced, “We start engine and then we fly.” Except we didn’t. It seems the luggage conveyor on “Marshmallow,” as our plane was named (No. Really.) had gone kaput, and each piece of luggage had to be hand loaded. We arrived 20 minutes late on a 40 minute flight.

As for the return…

Gdansk-Warsaw. The “Marshmallow” departed 20 minutes late because of the broken baggage conveyor issue. I guess someone also forgot to alert the Warsaw advance team, in addition, because there was no bus waiting for us upon landing (the second of three 20 minute delays). And no one thought to request a couple of extra hands to unload the luggage, either, so we all cozied up on the bus waiting another 20 minutes for the luggage crew.

That is not entirely correct. Passengers needing to make transatlantic connections took turns getting off the bus, walking back onto the plane to ask the beleaguered attendants when we would reach the terminal.

With 1 hour of our 1 hr, 45 minute layover now behind us, Anna Grace and I were psyched to be heading home. The last day of our holiday was wet, to the point where we weren’t sure if we would be leaving Gdansk by plane or by Ark (more on the rain later.) Nie, Nie, Nie. We reached the terminal and looked at the board only to see the D-word. Our final leg was delayed 80 minutes, and we were already within the dinnertime zone. Survival instincts kicked in, and we scoured the terminal in search of edible protein, just in case.  We were not alone; the Airport Delay Map on flightstats.com showed pretty green dots all over Europe (no delays) and one big, fat red dot atop Warsaw. “LOTs” of us were delayed.

The best of the edible protein had already been scavenged by the 3 hour-delayed passengers hoping to get to Stuttgart, Malta, and Barcelona; what remained had been picked over by the 2 hour-delayed passengers wanting to be in Paris. We found two little plastic cups of hummus and vegetable sticks cowering in the back of the Costa Coffee snack shelf and snatched them. I swiped my Bankomat at the purchase without looking at the cost.  Desperate times and all.

We boarded on-time, if boarding 5 minutes after we should have landed counts as on-time. Then a miracle occurred: I had the aisle seat and Anna Grace had the window. AND NO ONE SAT IN THE MIDDLE. With our little hummus cups and an empty seat between us we felt upgraded to Business Class, just without the pre-flight orange juice.

Tony sensed (it could have been the SMS, “Why are my people so inefficient? Communism is over.” I sent him) we would need “Special Assistance” after enduring this First World Problem, so he was waiting for us in Vienna.

LOTs more to follow.



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