Sometimes a delayed flight can start an avalanche of problems. I sat on the plane while it was waiting to be de-iced, looking at my watch and the aggravation started. I only had a 50 minute connect time in Amsterdam but was somewhat reassured that we would be able to make that up once in flight.
When we landed I ran to the new gate and was relieved to see the plane there with the jet-way still attached. Unfortunately, the staff at the desk explained that they had finished their paper work and I would not be able to board. Naturally, I pleaded, I almost cried but realized that they were not going to change their minds….rules always dominate in such cases.
They helped me consider new options but it didn’t look good. I had booked a flight on a different airline out of Istanbul going to Tirana, Albania. That is a no-no because they are not obligated to help when there is no “contract”. After restating that fact several times I decided to go elsewhere for assistance.
The second agent was more helpful, booking me on the next direct flight to Istanbul in hopes that somehow I would be on a plane that actually landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule. My hopes were slim but since I only had 2 days to explore this new country and had already paid for hotel and a tour guide I decided to go with the glass half-full philosophy.
Bad news, good news upon arrival. My plane was too late for the connection and the next departure for Tirana was already cancelled, meaning I would have 24 hours in Turkey without a visa; but Turkish Airlines did not charge me a change fee and one could get a visa upon arrival.
Not one to revel in disappointment I decided to get out of the airport and explore a new area of the city (I have been to Istanbul a few times before). It took about four hours to get the visa, clear customs and immigration and find a hotel and transportation. It was too late to get food so I settled on the remaining candy bars and looked forward to the complimentary breakfast in 6 hours time.
Albania was a pleasant surprise and I’ll detail my impressions in the next blog. The tour guide did his best to include 2 days of sites into one and to finish up by dropping me off at the airport for my return.
Back in Istanbul, check-in for my continuation was difficult. Had to go through security and then out again because my boarding pass was not in order. Long lines with few agents working caused more of the now familiar stress. All I needed was the next complication: a nose bleed that would not stop, probably due to the cold dry air, the many flights, and the heaters indoors. Leaving my place in line, I headed for the bathroom scaring people in my path. I did find someone to get me some ice and I found a place to sit. When the line thinned out I got my passes and a ride to the gate!