basel, at last

Uncategorized May 01, 2024

My husband and I are not experienced or comfortable foreign travelers.  It should therefore come as no surprise that our dream vacation to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Rhine River cruise should have started as a bit of a nightmare. 

It began when the car that took us to the airport let us off at the wrong terminal, necessitating us to schlep our luggage outside through the gauntlet of smokers clogging the sidewalk.  Approaching the ticket counter, the agent abruptly cautioned, “Step back.  I’ll call you when I’m ready for you.”  Once he finally waived us forward, I handed him our passports per his request.  He then asked if we were going to London, to which I responded in the affirmative.  He checked our one bag and gave us our boarding passes. 

As we walked to the gate, I happened to mention that I thought it was odd that we only had one boarding pass and not another for our final destination in Basel, Switzerland.  So, we approached our gate where the very same agent was standing and asked him why that might be.  He said that I told him that our FINAL destination was London (I did not!), and that now our one checked bag would have to be picked up there in baggage claim.  This means we would have to leave the departure area of the terminal in Heathrow, pick up our bag at baggage reclaim, then reenter going through security again after we go to another check-in desk to get our new tickets.  It is highly unlikely that all of that could be accomplished in an hour and forty minutes layover.  But he could not possibly rebook us on the next available flight to Basel.  And a call to British Airways, transferred to American Airlines, because they were the original issuer of the tickets, informed me that to rebook our flight would cost another $3,000 per person and risk cancelling all our return flights because we would be categorized as a “no show” for the Basel flight. 

The only recourse was to actually MISS our flight in Heathrow and throw ourselves on the mercy of the airlines when that happens.  That would cost us nothing.  I’m beyond skeptical…I’m frantic. This was not how I wanted to start our anniversary celebration.  But I got on the plane determined to relax with the help of an alcoholic beverage and a lot of prayer. 

Every other person at British Airways was so encouraging and helpful.  Our flight attendant told us exactly how to navigate Heathrow to make it to our flight on time, and all would have worked splendidly had our bag not been the LAST one placed on the reclaim carousel.  But when we got up to the ticket counter, we learned that we had automatically been rebooked.  A call to our hotel assured me that their car service would be meeting us at the Basel airport when our later flight came in.  

And here we are!   Maybe this is the one glitch in an otherwise perfect anniversary trip.  We’ll have to wait and see. 

Love, Liz

By missing the earlier plane to Basel, we ended up having a flight attendant named Terri McFadzean. What are the chances!?