Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday travel

Screw airports, I vote we all start traveling by sleigh -- who's with me?   (via)

I don't know if any of you have ever had to travel over the holidays, but it can be extremely stressful (that's what we like to call an understatement).  I remember last year, getting stuck overnight in Germany* on my way home because the airport hadn't stocked enough de-icing fluid (thanks, Heathrow and Munich airports for not telling us the truth and letting me rebook a direct flight) -- hundreds of us stranded in Munich, two and a half hour (longer for some) queues at the ticketing desk to be rebooked and given a hotel, waking up at 4:30am to get the first flight to Frankfurt, the phone call to the US to tall the Boyf not to bother coming to Logan to pick me up.

Crying happened.

I've heard worse stories, as well -- the one that really stays with me is of a friend visiting his mother in Uganda (they are American), and his flight getting stuck somewhere in Europe.  He was able to get a hotel for the night, because Americans can move freely in Europe without visas -- not so the unlucky African citizens who were also stranded.  They all were sleeping in the airport, some with small children, because they could not legally enter the country without a visa.  Oy.

But even bad situations can have bright moments -- I met a man traveling on an expense account that bought me and another guy beers at the hotel in Munich, and got home to the extra surprise of seeing one of my best friends, Niki, standing with the Boyf in arrivals.  And frankly, Germany is beautiful in the snow.

For any of you traveling this week, getting to loved ones ("come hell or high water," as my mother would say), here are a few links specifically for you.  I hope you all get home safe and sound and get to hug your families -- and if you don't, here's hoping you meet a nice dude with an expense account.

Some airports are being gifted free Wifi this holiday travel season from Skype!

And since you'll likely have Wifi (if you're flying), you absolutely must get a Twitter account -- it is in my experience the best way to get fast, friendly customer service if things go wrong!

America really needs to have beautiful Christmas markets like they do in Europe... with mulled wine, thankyouverymuch!  (That website is generally worth a look-see, FYI -- GREAT information!)

Less-stress tips, whether you are traveling by plane or car.

Good news (if you're like me): Congress is starting to hate the TSA as well!  (I really, really, really, really, really hate them -- and am kinda waiting to get stopped at an airport one day because I am so vocal about it).  Also, don't forget that if you (for my American readers) have a bad experience with a TSA officer, you should absolutely complain about it.

Your rights as an airline passenger in the USA.  Worth reading before you hit the airport, and maybe keeping a copy with you in case you need a reference! (here, here, and here)  And a handy reference for my EU readers.

*For those of you keeping score at home, this is in fact the second time I have been stranded in Germany; the first time, I spent two whole days traveling round and round, unable to get out (yeah, I didn't understand it either.  Something about tickets being for the wrong destinations, me being asked to leave trains, my phone dying, sleeping in an airport I never meant to go to, and my not speaking German).  I am now officially scared to ever go back.

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