We arrive at the Brussels airport early Friday morning. It’s the last day of a 10-day EuroTrip, en route to Geneva, back to Chicago.
We’ve already checked in on our phones so we immediately go to the self check-in. I’d paid to check a bag on the return trip so we figure this should be quick and painless.
In Bruges (the day before), I’d bought a bottle of super unique alcohol that I insisted on taking home with me. This is super odd to begin with since I don’t actually drink, but for whatever reason, I just had to have it. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the actual gold flecks and sparkles it had in it 😉
So checked bag it is.
After the self check-in, we are sent to a bag drop line, where we wait for what seems like forever. Probably more like 25 minutes.
We get to the front of the cue, scan our boarding passes and it says we have to see an agent.
There’s no time for this nonsense.
We look around and all we see are the glares of everyone in line behind us. Finally, we catch the eye of the agent, and she sends us to yet another line to speak with another agent. We wait in this line for 30 more minutes!
My blood pressure is rising.
We get up to the front and the woman just looks at us and says “you’re late.”
I’m dumbfounded. We’ve just been in lines for nearly an hour!
She tells us we can’t check the bag I’d paid for because the plane is leaving soon.
We explain we’ve been waiting in lines and that we’d like a refund for the bag then. She points and says if I want a refund, I can go wait in another line and miss my flight.
I decide not to get the refund and head for security. We stop at the trash bins to throw away the specialty liquids, and go towards the lines. We take one look and our bodies shrink a little bit.
There’s just no way we will make it.
We ask an attendant if there’s any way to get through the line faster as our flight leaves in 20 minutes.
Not just boarding, but leaving in 20 minutes!
She says no, but redirects us to another line at the end that should be shorter.
We get to the end and that line is even longer!
I’m completely starting to lose it at this point.
Now we’re in line, attempting to jam my checked bag stuff into the carry-ons.
The whole scene is a hot mess.
Our impatience is building by the minute.
You see, we are actually trying to get to Geneva, Switzerland. Once in Geneva, we’re connecting to our flight back to the U.S. There is no way we can miss this flight to Geneva.
We decide to ask another attendant if we can get through as we now only have 10 minutes left. He’s much nicer and says to ask the people in front of us.
Luckily, the lady directly in front of us speaks English and says to go ahead. The attendant opens up the line so we get a little further, but not all the way to the front.
There are still 15 more people in front of us!
We finally make it to the security belt and I’m ungrounded, scattered, and can barely function. Not my finest travel moment.
I’m making a bad attempt to take out all the toiletries and electronics and place them on the belt.
I forget my phone in my pocket and set off the alarm as I go through.
Then all three of my bags go through and are pulled aside for inspection.
Of course they are.
My hands are sweating. I’m on the verge of tears.
Turns out the cheese I’d had in my suitcase was a cause for alarm. The agents all make some jokes in French and are taking their sweet time, rifling through my clothes.
It’s now 9:17am. Our flight leaves at 9:20am!
After another eternity, we’re cleared and start running. I have a massive backpack and a super heavy under-the-seat bag in tow. And I’m running as if my life depends on it.
Naturally, our gate is at the very end of the terminal, which means navigating through the crowds in all the stores, restaurants and other gates.
I can barely breathe.
We get to the gate, begging and pleading our case.
It’s too late.
Nope. I won’t accept this.
They start making phone calls and we insist we have to make our connection in Geneva.
Then, a miracle happens. Hallelujah!
They stop the plane and wait for us!
It takes everything in me not to break down crying.
Next, we finally board the plane, and for the first time actually look at our tickets. We don’t have seat assignments, even though we’ve paid extra for specific seats.
Can anything else possibly go wrong?
The flight attendant tells us to go to the back and ask the other attendant what to do.
Everyone is staring and frustrated as we are holding up the plane in a big way.
We are hot, sweaty and barely breathing.
The attendant at the back of the plane says she cannot help us and sends us back up front.
Are you freaking kidding me?!
We head back up front and see two seats, one in front of the other. The flight attendant tells us we can’t sit there because people in those seats are provided a meal! I’m in complete shock.
We’ve made it this far and now we’re getting hung up on details?!
We promise not to eat and everyone’s up in arms about the situation.
Luckily, the people in the rows we are trying to sit in come to the rescue!
A couple of businessmen speak English and welcome us into the two last empty seats on the entire plane. We scramble in and sit down.
My eyes well with tears. I’m grateful and exhausted.
I close my eyes and the next time I open them, we are in Geneva.
Moral of the story:
Always give yourself enough time at the airport, especially when you are in a foreign country!