So let me just tell you about my fun little flight to Finland…
Let me first start off by explaining that I had 4 flight changes on my way there. I went from Pittsburgh to New York, and then from New York to Paris, and then from Paris to Helsinki, and finally Helsinki to Oulu. That’s x4 the chances for something to go wrong, of course. When I took my trip to Japan last year, I had 2 flights (Pittsburgh to San Francisco, and then on to Tokyo), and they all went fairly smoothly. This time, however…not so much.
I will say that they still could have gone so much horribly worse, so I was still fortunate for the most part, but it was much more frustrating at times than I was hoping.
My flight to New York went off without a hitch, but when I landed in the airport… I must say that JFK Airport is a pretty screwed up place. I had step off the plane by stairs, and then I had to go through some weird tarp-like tunnel they had set up, until finally I was able to make it to a building. Once inside, I then had difficulty finding the correct gate I was supposed to go to. This was mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t in the right building, apparently, and it took some time for someone to explain this to me. The problem was, though, I couldn’t find the right building, and the reason for that is because I couldn’t find the exit!! Now, if there had been a fire in that building, everyone would have been screwed, because there wasn’t a single sign that said “Exit” anywhere, nor was there any indication of where the exit might be. Finally, I was able to find the exit (it was kind of hidden…who does that?) and then I had to walk up a road (a road…with cars…no side-walk) to the other building. After that, I had to pass through security, and it is always been my fear that I will be that one person they pull aside because of something, and they fucking did!!! First, they ran my stuff through twice, and I’m thinking “oh, okay, maybe something looked weird so they are checking again…”, but then they pulled my bag off the line and asked if it was mine. So then I’m taken to the side, and the guy goes through my bag and pulls out the candle I had packed to give to Kata’s parents (apparently they don’t trust Yankee Candle). At first, I’m outraged thinking “oh great, you can’t take candles on an airplane?”, but then the TSA officer checks the candle for BOMB MATERIAL! Naturally, it passes, because it isn’t my style to make Hazelnut Coffee scented bombs, and I was able to make it to my gate.
From this point, my plane to Paris was handled by AirFrance, so you know it’s going to get good when the French are involved…First off, let me say that the flight itself was handled rather nicely. The AirFrance plane was roomy, so I had plenty of legroom, but the seats themselves were still uncomfortable as hell (I can only ask for so much). The food they provided on the flight was also decent, so I will give credit to the French for that. But otherwise… I couldn’t understand anything they said, because if they weren’t speaking in French, then they were mumbling their English, and speaking very fast, so I was always confused. This compounded the problem when the pilot announced that when we reached Paris, if we had a connecting flight (such as I did), that we needed to claim our luggage and then have it rechecked before boarding our next flight. I didn’t hear him very well, so I asked someone else to confirm this, which they did, so I felt settled on that matter. It was strange, but I had this happen to me in San Francisco on my way back from Japan. We got to the airport in France late, because we left JFK late, because well…the French just kind of suck at everything I guess. Ironically I predicted this would happen, and I was slightly happy and felt justified in my prejudice, but still unhappy that it happened (dumb, I know). I go to baggage claim and wait for my bag. It didn’t come. I waited until the computer screen announced that the luggage was finished. I then had to go to the baggage claim office to see what happened, and there was a line out the door of people whose luggage was missing from my flight (again… the French can’t do anything right). Finally, when I get to the clerk, she taps a few keys on her computer and goes “Oh, you have a connecting flight to Finland? Your baggage won’t be here—it is already on the next plane trip”. So, not only was I pressed for time already because the plane was late, but now I just stood in baggage for NOTHING and then waited in line even longer for NOTHING because the crew of AirFrance don’t know what they’re talking about. Frustrated, I finally rush through the airport (my second biggest fear of airports)— and I may or may not have accidentally skipped past customs somehow— and I finally find the “Departure” terminals. But then I can’t find my specific terminal. So I ask a gentleman (or dirty Frenchman if you will) for some help, and I guess to his credit he was fairly happy to help, but then it turns out he was no help at all because he lead me to a dead-end, so I had to ask another person, I don’t even know if they worked at the airport (they were in a suit, so I asked) and they were able to direct me to the right place. Then I have to go through security again, and once again they pull me aside because of the stupid candle! As if I already didn’t have enough time wasted. Humorously enough, though… the bomb-testing in France is much more err uh… shall we say, lax? Whereas in New York they were pulling out some crazy instrument to test the candle, the woman in France tested this bomb-candle by opening it, smelling it, poking it, and then finally taking it over to her boss, who looks at it, shrugs, and they let me pass. If that had been an actual bomb, there were so many things that girl did wrong in the first five seconds of touching it. Finally, I make it to my gate, where it is ready to leave on time because hey— not the French in charge anymore because it’s a Finnair plane!! And basically, the rest of my trip went swimmingly because Finnish people actually get shit done right.
And really, this is the part you all came to read— once I made it to Oulu, I was a nervous wreck as one might imagine, and I had to use the bathroom sooooo bad (because naturally, it hit my bladder like a ton of bricks as soon as we entered landing preparations and I wasn’t allowed to get up). So I rush to the bathroom, and take that opportunity to compose myself, and then head through the airport. I walk out into the main plaza and can’t find Kata. My initials thoughts were: 1) she didn’t make it yet or 2) she actually didn’t show up. I was more inclined to believe the former, but you cannot blame me for thinking the latter; I was a hot mess. So, I took this opportunity to get my car rental settled. And so, while I’m talking to this Finnish sir and getting everything fixed with that, I glance to my right and THERE’S KATA. And that poor Finnish man was in the middle of explaining something to me and she runs up and we hug and he’s just fumbling with his words and then finally I put her down (yeah I had her off her feet ;3) and look to the Finnish man and say “…Sorry”, and he just started laughing. It certainly made up for everything else.
So ultimately, thank you Kata!!
…and fuck the French.