I know by the title you’re expecting this awesome story of how I got stuck in Amsterdam and had a wild time, in fact this story is the polar opposite. We’re always so quick to talk about the positive experiences we have while traveling, but fail to mention some of the negatives. A year ago I was stuck in Amsterdam due to a missed connection on my way back to New York. At the time I was in tears, but now I look back and realize that this just like any other experience has help shape me into the traveler I am today.
It all started in London when my flight was delayed to Amsterdam. As panic set in I realized there was a chance I wasn’t making it home that day. I headed up to the gate desk to ask what exactly was going on, and was told that “a number of flights are delayed in and out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport due to fog.” I thought is this for real, but apparently this is not an uncommon occurrence. My flight to Amsterdam was originally delayed a little over two hours, and with only an hour and a forty-five minutes to connect you do the math, not happening. Ok, so I’m definitely not going home today… Then the delay was pushed up to only an hour, I tried to remain optimistic.
I’m now aboard my flight from London to Amsterdam, and as you can imagine I was on the edge of my (window) seat the entire time. When we landed in Amsterdam, after what seemed like the longest plane ride of my life, one of the flight attendants was announcing all of the connections and whether or not we would make it. “If you are traveling to Newark, NJ, you will make it but you have to hurry.” A moment of relief as we pulled up to the gate and I literally ran off the plane and through the airport, it was like a scene from a movie… Except in the movies there is usually a happy ending, in my case not so much. I reached my gate only for the attendant to tell me I would not be getting on this flight, I was so close I could practically feel my bed at home. I was pointed in the direction of a line, a line so long it went down the length of the terminal, all the way to the gate I had just sprinted from, but I thought ok how bad could it be… 7 hours later (yes I said that in sponge bob’s voice) you guessed it, I was still in line. At first I had no clue what I was even in line for, hundreds of people missed connections so the airport was absolute chaos. After asking around I realized this was the line to arrange for a new flight home, and with the amount of people I thought it would be days before I got a flight home. The worst part about this was being alone, which meant minimal bathroom and food breaks. By the time I reached close to the front of the line, I had a dead phone, empty stomach and tired feet. I couldn’t take it anymore (did I mention I was up since 3 am?) I broke down in tears when I saw a KLM staff member (may or may not have been intentional) I grabbed his attention and he asked me about my situation. Now that it was just passed 10 pm he told me to go downstairs and get a hotel for the night. As if I needed anymore headache I could not figure out where to go when I got downstairs. So I found an outlet sat on the floor, charged my phone and just cried. At this point I was more upset at the fact that I was in Amsterdam but spent the whole day inside the airport. I saw a group of people that looked familiar so I got up, followed them, and what do you know the KLM desk was about 30 feet from where I was sitting. And yet again I stood in another line for about an hour and a half. I made friends with this older couple and older woman in front of me, I’m usually pretty outgoing but being alone all day at this point I was going to start talking to myself or the wall. I made it to the front of the line where I received a hotel and meal/drink voucher, and a toiletry bag. I gave the guy behind the desk my passport and asked him about what would happen the next day and he ensured me that I was on a flight.
With my mind at ease I headed off to the hotel with my new friends, and was so beyond excited for my first meal all day (plus it was on the airline so that made it even better). That excitement was short lived when we got to the buffet and realized all this food was pretty much sitting out all day. So I had a bowl of soup that on a normal day wouldn’t have been very good, but I was so hungry I practically licked the bowl clean. Thank god we got one drink for free with dinner because I definitely needed a glass of wine, almost more than I needed the meal. After my midnight dinner I headed back to my room for some much needed rest. It was nice to finally be off my feet, but I didn’t sleep very well in fear of over sleeping. I was already wide awake when my alarm went off, so I got ready and headed to the airport.
I arrived at the airport 5 hours before my flight just to ensure there were no more problems. And what do you know the problems started from the moment I reached the check-in desk. Apparently my ticket was in “flown status” which means that I had gone home the day before, but clearly I was still in Amsterdam. The water works started up again when I thought there was a possibility I was not going home, AGAIN. The miracle worker at the check-in desk finally had me on a flight home, but I had to stop in Paris first. Fast forward to the afternoon, in line to board my flight to Paris then home, smiling for the first time in 24 hours… That was until I got to the front of the line, the attendant scanned my boarding pass *seat assignment error* – please go see the lady over there at the desk. My heart sank and I thought you have got to be kidding me. I handed the woman my boarding pass, she then asked why I was at this gate as I was supposed to be on a flight to connect through Edinburgh, Scotland not Paris… Naturally I looked around for cameras, because at this point I had to be on some prank TV show, but no this was real life. My boarding pass clearly says Paris CDG, why would I think I was going to Edinburgh? I asked when that flight takes off, to see if I could make it… Too bad it took off two hours ago. Tears rolled down my face as the lady behind the counter told me “stop crying I’ll get you home” which made me cry even more, at this point out of pure exhaustion and frustration… But then there it was the FINAL boarding pass that would get me home safely to America, after a quick stop in Germany.
Of course I did not want to go home, I would have rather stayed in Europe under different circumstances, but there was no better feeling than when I boarded my flight to New York (especially after what I had been through). I sat in my seat, had a few drinks and some dinner, I was so exhausted by this time that I slept almost the entire flight home (which is rare for me). When I arrived in New York I knew my bag didn’t make it, especially since I ended up on Air Berlin instead of KLM/Delta, so I just left the airport. If you can learn anything from this story it’s DON’T leave the airport until you have filed a missing baggage claim. Trying to get my bag back was absolute nightmare, as if I hadn’t been through enough, but this was my own fault (I did get my bag a week and a half later).
Things do not always go according to plan, there will always be some tiny bumps in the road (not so tiny in my case). As frustrating and scary as this situation was there were times I had to relax, take a deep breath and look back on the days I had spent in Europe prior to these events. I did not allow this mishap to take away from the amazing time I had. There were some moments I honestly thought I would never travel again, but I realized that through this experience I am now prepared for (almost) anything.
Who else has had a crazy experience like this? I would love to hear your story, feel free to write me or comment below 🙂