Repost from Sept 2013 for the most part we have been lucky flying nonrev this is the only time I’ve been stuck in Europe. My how my world has changed. If I were to get stuck now I would probably go visit the city again instead of worrying so much about getting home.
So a few weeks ago I mentioned that I was stuck in Zurich. I’m skipping the trip between Greece and Zurich and going right to Zurich. I will go back to the trip in between and the other lessons I’ve learned. The trip started the night before when my husband got a call to go to Zurich. We were out with our friends and I was able to check and the flight out there looked great but the flight back looked a little iffy. We were out as I stated and my friends were like what’s the worst that can happen. Now the last time I went to Zurich it was cloudy so I didn’t get to see the Swiss Alps off of Lake Zurich. So I figured what the heck. I also decided to bring my DSLR. Typically my rule is if I have been there before I will bring my smaller Olympus EPM3. So we woke up early on Sunday and headed to the airport. All is well. We got on the first flight fine. No issues. We then landed and Philadelphia and headed to his crash pad. On the way to the crash pad we each found a penny. Both pennies were face down. Now my husband is Dutch they do not believe that you pass any money by. My mother has told me not to pick up pennies that are face down. So needless to say we picked them up. As we were sitting in the crash pad it began to rain. Not too badly at first for then it started to come down. Now there really isn’t a good way to get to the airport without walking. My husband changed out of his uniform (because he would have been soaked) and we headed out. It’s about a 20-minute walk to the airport and by the time we got there we were soaked. My bags were soaked and everything inside was soaked. Thankfully my computer and iPad were in cases so though the case was wet the devices were not. My camera was fine but my poor iPod which I have had for years was not doing well. It had been sitting in the bag where the water had pooled. It still turns on but the touch screen does not work. All of the clothes in my bag were soaked so I had nothing to change into. Thankfully his uniform was dry. So we were waiting at the airport and had to change gates, no big deal. Then the computers went down so we were not able to board the plane. After about a45 minutes we were able to board. Feeling drenched I purchased a first class upgrade hoping to not be squished next to someone being soak and wet and hopefully being able to dry out. We then pulled out towards the runway which was packed. I looked out the window and there was quite a bit of flooding in the grass and where you cross the runway. We were just about ready for take-off and they stopped takeoff for all flights due to weather. So we sat and sat and sat. Then we got the ok to go. We took off and I was like yay we are on the way. I took off my wet shoes and got under the blanket and tried to get warm. The view out of the window was amazing and when we were able to use our electronic devices I took these pictures.
The flight itself was uneventful. Which is a good thing. We then landed in Zurich where it was guess what, raining. Yes, raining and not a light drizzle but a steady rain (just like when we left Philadelphia). So we went to the mall by the hotel and decided not to go into town to Lake Zurich because we would not be able to see the Alps. This is the first time we have ever gone to a foreign country and just stayed in the hotel. After a nap for me, I woke up in time for dinner. There is a place that’s a short walk away that has the best garlic soup so that’s where we went. We headed out with the umbrella’s it had stopped raining by now but you never know. You can walk through the woods to get to the restaurant. So we headed out. This is the path through the woods.
We then ran into this little guy.
There were a bunch of them so we had to be careful not to step on them. It was a really nice walk
I love the buildings here. We also went to the lake where we saw some berries
This is the back of the restaurant
When we went inside we saw that everyone had their umbrella’s with them.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel taking the scenic route. We found another guy roaming the fields. This cat reminds me of one of ours. He was just watching us as we went by.
They have some large streets to cross and they have these underground walkways that you can use to avoid the traffic.
I love this door and all the old charm.
This church was just waiting to be photographed by me. Especially since there weren’t any people walking around.
It was a lovely walk back. To bad, the rest of the trip would not be the same. I always check the flights before I go to bed and when I did there were no seats on the flight going home and it was overbooked by three. Well, I tried to sleep but could not. In the morning we discussed the possibility of me not getting back on his flight. I then booked myself (standby) on a United flight back just in case. We went to the airport and I upgraded to first class again that way I would take priority over other passengers. My husband gave me his credit card and we went to the plane. He had to get on the plane ahead of me and he let the gate agents know that I was out there. Then the moment of boarding arrived. People kept coming and I waited and waited and waited. They called some people that were standby but they were the ones that were overbooked. Then I got the news. There wasn’t a seat available. He had to stay on the flight since he was working it and I was all alone. Ok, I was booked on a United flight no problem. I went over to the United flight and I was not checked in. They managed to check me in and then the waiting began again. There was a guy and his friend there and one of the guys got on but his friend did not. Actually, I was the next person to be called when they ran out of seats. Well ok, now what do. I booked myself on a seat to San Francisco but they could not get me checked in. Alright, panic mode set it. I could stay in this airport.
But the flight the next day was overbooked by 5. Ok, so my brain starts thinking what places can I get to that I can fly out of. I start checking flights. Munich no seats, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid all booked and over book. Lisbon wait Lisbon. There were 6 seats in first class and coach was overbooked by 4 but that left two seats total on the plane still open. Either way, I would be good. I had a first class upgrade just incase one of those seats was open and I was first on the non rev list unless someone senior jumped on at the last minute. Ok, now I had to get to Lisbon, Portugal. I check and for $700 I could go from Zurich to Hamburg then stay the night in Hamburg and fly to Lisbon in the morning. Ok I can do this. So I booked myself on the flights. After waiting several hours I walked over to the gate and (for the first time in 3 years) had a seat on the plane. No stand by but able to get on without having to wait. Here is the plane on the way to Hamburg.
After landing in Hamburg I asked one of the gate agents if I could stay in the airport overnight. He said there was a waiting area downstairs that people stayed and waited and there was a small pastry shop that was open 24 hours also. So I headed in that direction. As I was walking in that direction there was an entire wall of advertisement for my favorite car rental agency (yeah right) Sixt. I had to laugh and take a picture.
This is the waiting area in the Hamberg Airport
It wasn’t to bad. There were couches and also charging stations for your phone or electronic devices. I was able to watch some movies I had on my computer and at the same time I was watching the availability on the Lisbon flight making sure no one jumped in front of me. This was the thrill of my night. My bags were heavy (that damn camera) so I didn’t take many pictures. Though it’s weird seeing and empty airport. In the morning (the airport opened at 4) I got on line and was able to get back into the airport. The flight to Lisbon took off at 6 am. Now I didn’t take a picture but if you look up the uniforms for TAP Portugal Airlines. Their uniforms are great. So off to Portugal I went (my first time). We get to the airport and really it is a madhouse. People don’t know where to go and there are lines everywhere. After waiting in line for about 15 minutes I was able to talk to someone and found out I could just go through passport control (I did not have a boarding pass). I went to the gate and they were checking people in there and then you had to wait on line after you were checked in for another check it. It was crazy. The non-revs were told to stay off to the side as they boarded the plane so I waited and waiting and waited. Then they called my name. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to board a plane. I was in coach but I didn’t care. There was actually another nonrev that made it one the plane and she was seated in my row. Then we took off. I was so happy that we were in the air. So about 2 1/2 hours into the flight, they come over the PA and ask if there is a doctor on the plane. This is normally not a good thing. There was a sick passenger on the plane and I’m normally concerned with others but honestly, at this point, I was hoping it wasn’t bad enough for them to turn the plane around. Please remember I hadn’t had any sleep and just wanted to get home. Thankfully they didn’t turn the plane around and the person was somewhat better. When we landed in Philadelphia we had to wait until the medical people took the sick passenger off of the plane. (in case you were wondering there were at least two doctors on the flight). I then headed to passport control. We landed at 1:40 and the flight home was at 3:30. The line at passport controls was about and hour and 15 minutes long. I was supposed to get my global entry in June but had to change the appointment and it was rescheduled for the Saturday after this trip. So I waited in line and finally made it through. Then I got to the get for the flight home and actually got a seat right away. My husband was home the day before so he had to come and get me from the airport since we drove in one car. Thankfully my boss was really understanding also because I ended coming home a day later than I had originally expected. The real kicker of it all was that when I checked the Zurich flight for the day after I was stuck it left with 10 seats open. Had I stayed put I would have gotten on the next day. The thing is you never know what each day holds which is why it is always an adventure. We joke about it now and we blame the pennies we picked up in Philadelphia for the bad luck. Will I travel again of course (I had to the following week to get my global entry). I might be more cautious with the flights being so tight and maybe next time I will wait until the next day.