The airport from which we were to fly home is not really set up to handle large crowds efficiently (or even medium-sized groups, for that matter). The "sterile" area has seating for about sixty people; we were about 100 more than that.
I waited in the outer waiting area as long as I could. There are about 120 seats there.
(How do you spell "bottleneck"?)
Not only were we not permitted to take liquids onto the plane, we couldn't even bring fresh fruit from the DFAC with us. My orange was impounded, much to my chagrin. They missed the fact that my trail mix was not in an unopened, factory-packed condition (I'd made it myself), so at least I got to keep it with me, and nosh on it over the course of the next 18 hours or so.
The final wait for the plane seemed interminable, but we actually got underway not too long after the 1330 time we'd been briefed earlier that morning. Because the aircraft was smaller than originally projected (the repairs on the one we should have been flying on had not been completed, so we were sent a different airframe altogether), we were somewhat more squeezed for space on board the plane, and there was a rumor that we might have to make two -- or perhaps three -- stops on our way to the States.
The first leg of the flight took us only as far as Leipzig, Germany. This is becoming somewhat familiar to me, as I've stopped there on my way to and from Iraq, and now on the way home from Kosovo. The layover of two hours just about matched the amount of time it had taken us to get there.
Back on the plane, it was a relief (and a bit of a downer) to hear that we were flying non-stop to Indianapolis. At least we'd be Stateside when we next touched down, but the bummer was that the flight would be 9.5 hours long.
My arthritic knees don't do well in confined spaces for extended lengths of time.
But at least we were almost back!
I tried to sleep, but seeing as about the only time I can sleep in a moving vehicle is if I'm driving, I wound up watching the four movies they had to offer.
The food which was served was actually very tasty. (Why can't U.S.-based carriers do at least as well??)
I called my parents at 202113JUL10 (9:13 p.m., 20 July 2010) as we landed at the Indianapolis airport.
By the time I got to bed that night, it was already 0030 the next morning.
But at least we were back in the States!
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ