He found a ticket, round-trip for $600, which was probably too good to be true. Trying to purchase this ticket proved challenging. He had gone through a booking site and they kept kicking it back as canceled. Finally, Ben contacted the airline directly and tried to pay for the ticket, but it wouldn’t go through. We called the airline and apparently there had been a change of time for one of the flights and the system would not allow us to pay for the ticket. In the end, we were talking to the computer guys at the airline, and while they fixed the first problem, the system still would not allow us to pay for the ticket. After 45 minutes, the guy was able to get the credit card to process. Whew!
But that was not the end of our woes. In another week, the ticket was canceled again, this time because the airline had canceled the flight. Our only option was to buy another ticket, and the cost was NOT $600. Not only that, but we didn’t get our money back, just a credit and six months to use it or lose it. Ben found another flight going through Amsterdam, but in addition to the $600, we needed to add another $700. We bought that ticket and held our collective breaths it would not get canceled. Ben had already purchased a separate ticket to get him from Knoxville to New York; so, all these times had to match up.
The day before the flight, Ben tried to check in, but was told he could not check in unless they saw the card used to pay for the flight. I said for him to FaceTime me and I would show them the card! Needless to say, that was not sufficient, but more on that later.
At 4:30 in the morning, we started for the airport. We had gone about a mile when Ben remembered he had forgotten to bring his neck pillow. “Do you want it?” I asked. “Yes” Ben said. So, I turned around and went to the house to get it. We set off again and arrived at the airport. I dropped him off and then went to park the car. When I got to check-in, he was at the desk and one of the suitcases weighed 54 pounds. There is a limit of 50 pounds, but the second suitcase was under the limit, so he was asked to redistribute things. I had packed the suitcases, which were mostly filled with things his five sisters and mom wanted. There wasn’t much wiggle room.
When he opened the heavy suitcase, I saw a pair of tennis shoes he said he wasn’t going to take. I asked if he really needed those, and he said, “No”. So, that lightened the load by two pounds. Finally, that issue was solved and he completed checking in to New York. He was carrying several oranges, tangerines, an apple, several protein bars, a croissant and about a dozen No Bake cookies as I wasn’t sure if any restaurants would be open.
We said our good-byes at security and once he had passed that successfully, I left. He ate and slept his way to Chicago and then on to Newark airport. From Newark, he took a Lyft ride to JFK airport, at the cost of $80. Of course, with COVID-19, there are no shared rides with people you don’t know.
As he was trying to check in for his flight at JFK, the issue of the credit card came up again. The new rule is that you have to have the credit card that was used to pay for the flight, and that card needs to be in your name. In the end, I had to transfer the entire amount of the flight to his account so he could pay for it with his debit card and the airline promised to refund my payment back to my card.
Once again, he cleared security and discovered a place to buy food. He texted me about 5:10 that he was on the plane and expected to depart at 5:40. I assume all had gone smoothly, until I got a text just before 9:00 pm that he was still at JFK on the plane! He had forgotten his neck pillow, but the door to the plane was closed, so he couldn’t retrieve it. There was a computer programming glitch, and they had to wait nearly 4 hours, on the plane, for it to be fixed. No one wants to fly on a broken plane, especially over the Atlantic!
He was ravenous by that time and had eaten everything he had except the protein bars. I expect those were gone before his supper arrived. I didn’t hear any more from him until he was home in Nairobi. The text letting me know of his arrival took four hours to reach me. (I wonder where they go for all that time?) Anyway, he did NOT have to have another COVID test in Nairobi, but is isolating in his room. All in all, it took 33 hours, door to door. Those are the trips that make you old and inflexible.
However, his family is delighted to see him and he is thoroughly enjoying being with them. My house is a bit emptier, but I’m glad he’s able to spend this time with his family.