Christmas has come and gone, and we all know that it is a time better spent with family, whether you celebrate or not. I nearly didn’t make it, although my journey home was probably not as eventful as Maciej’s.
I live in Brussels. Normally I come home by the Eurostar; it’s great because there is no hassle of having to take off one’s shoes before boarding. Door-to-door it takes me 3.5 hours. Despite all this, I feel fortunate that I didn’t book the train this time, or else I’d be spending the holidays stuck in the Eurotunnel complaining (and suffocating).
So my father recommended I go by aeroplane. Many american carriers have started this new flight path from London to Brussels (coming from the States), and they are actually quite a good price. My American Airlines flight was in the morning on the Saturday which meant I had to wake up earlier than I did on school days.
I am normally a morning person, and 5.45 am is no alien time to me (yes, I’m strange like that).
So can someone please explain why I did what I did next.
I needed to take the first tube of the day to Heathrow, via the Piccadilly line. I took it in the opposite direction. I think something in me was so used to going to King’s Cross (and that general area). By the time I realised my mistake I was at Leicester Square… I didn’t think I’d make my flight on time, and that would have sucked.
I made it just in time, at which I naively thought ‘Hey, maybe this day won’t be so bad after all’. That was before they refused to let me board. I am spoiled enough to travel in Europe solely on my ID card, and as I understand, it is an EU law that I am allowed to do so. Both London and Brussels are in the EU the last time I checked and my ID card is valid. American Airlines believed themselves above this law and required I had a passport. So I was waiting in the queue to lodge my complaint and ask for a refund when a man in front of me collapsed.
I don’t know why; perhaps it was a stroke or a heart attack, but immediately someone well-versed in first aid came to the rescue. I felt so helpless – I mean, a man was dying and all I could do was try not to stare. The AA staff were officiously trying to help out, probably worsening the situation. I daresay they were happy with any excuse to not have to deal with my issue.
I couldn’t do much so I went home to get my passport. At least there would be another flight the next day. Although another tip from my father suggested that there was a flight by United Airlines (another american carrier) that very afternoon. I took it, this time with my passport. When I arrived in Brussels I was surprised to see 10 cm of snow…! I shouldn’t have been though.
I decided to formally complain to the AA people via e-mail. I mean, they made me waste a plane ticket and 8.5 hours of my very precious holiday! All because I had an ID card instead of a passport… I was sure that they would write back with a very polite letter claiming that they have their ‘policies’ and they wouldn’t refund me. I was all ready to rage (sort of). So imagine how I felt when their immigrations officer replied with an apology, a refund and 5000 bonus miles credited to my account! Yes, I was annoyed but intensely relieved as well. The moral of the story is: EU ID cards rule! But don’t forget to carry your passport just in case.
The only conclusion I can draw from this whole incident is that the AA immigrations officer was replaced by Santa Claus. It’s the only plausible explanation.