My first transatlantic experience was that of excitement and angst. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and a short connection time do not mix!
After an 8hr haul on Virgin from Blighty, I touched down in a sunny ATL, to be greeted by a domino of a line at immigration! Once you’re through immigration in the US, and you’re connecting, you have to recheck-in with your bags which is a slight pain. Anyhow, it’s security which nobody can grumble at.
Upon reaching my gate (through the many toast rack terminal buildings) for my Delta connection down to Tampa, my heart sank as I saw the beautiful B757 pushback. Unlike normal American customer service, the Delta desk were far from helpful and well, to cut a long story short, a 1.5hr connection became a 10hr one!
Frantically running from airline desk to airline desk trying to get a flight to TPA, I was running out of luck. It was a hot, summer Friday evening and it seemed the whole of Atlanta was heading to Florida’s beaches. Stress levels rising, I thanked that I smoked at this point in my life (I don’t now).
As I finish up at yet another airline desk, I tried my last. Southwest Airlines. I had heard it was the Ryanair of the States. Nevertheless, I got a flight. A very, very delayed flight to Orlando (close enough to Tampa), which departed at 1am – another 5hrs away. Oh well – to the bar…wait…I was under 21!
Finally, I was on a plane. An old, rickety B737-300. Oh, my, goodness…this thing was unbelievably aged! Nonetheless, we were airborne and to my amazement, we received a free snack…a bag of peanuts literally flew onto my lap as the stewardess said “here’s ‘ya evenin’ meal”. I chuckled but I didn’t care. I made it. I was on my way to Tampa – ish.
Moral of the story is book a flight with a decent connection and never underestimate Southwest. They are what they are and they saved my bacon!
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