With apologies to The Beatles, traveling to Russia to represent Genesys Aerosystems can be really fun and exciting. But my recent trip to HeliRussia 2017 in Moscow was one instance when, well, it wasn’t. But let’s start at the beginning…
As my Dallas-to-Frankfort flight was just pushing away from the gate, I had a whole tray of Champagne, orange juice and water spilled on me. Not the kind of kickoff Mimosa I was looking forward to. Anyway, I had to wash my blouse with club soda and luckily fashioned some PJs from First Class for the rest of the trip. The flight attendants were nice enough to put my shirt in the galley oven so it was dry and toasty when we arrived in Germany.
Thankfully our next flight to Tel Aviv was uneventful. And our meetings were very successful. Just when I was feeling the trip was taking a turn for the better, my luck did a quick 180.
When we returned to our hotel to get our luggage and head for the airport for our flight to Moscow, my bags were nowhere to be found. I had left my suitcase with the bellboy, thinking he would put it in storage. Wrong. It was actually put with other bags and loaded on a tour bus going in the opposite direction of the airport.
One of the hotel staff (bless him), volunteered to make the two-hour trip to intercept the bus and bring my bags back. No worries. The hotel gave me a comp room and I decided to take a short nap before grabbing the next train to the airport at 2:30 a.m.
Unfortunately, I selected the wrong alarm setting on my phone and it went off precisely at 3:30 a.m. – two hours later than I wanted. I think I set a new speed record for getting dressed. No shower, but I did brush my teeth.
Rushing down to the lobby, I realized there was no way to get to the airport via the train. The front desk clerk was very kind and helped convince a local taxi driver to take me to the airport. He was awesome and got me to the airport in just over an hour. Phew! Fortunately, my security check was quick and I arrived at the gate just as the flight was boarding.
I arrived in Moscow at 11:00 a.m. local and was able to get a bit of rest before heading to the HeliRussia exhibition area to set up our booth. The show was a smashing success in large part to our partner, Heliatica, who allowed us to display in their booth. We had great meetings and set up two new HeliSAS dealers in the Moscow area.
Light and medium helicopters are becoming very popular throughout the region and operators are wanting to have the safety advantages our HeliSAS system on their aircraft. We have recently received approval for most of our HeliSAS STCs through the Russian Aviation Authorities.
Okay, so the show was a hit. Now if only my trip home will be as good. Nope. I got to London’s Heathrow fine. But that’s where things got interesting. In case you haven’t heard, that was the same time that British Airways’ worldwide computer system went down. Really?
By a stroke of luck, I was able to get a call in to American Airlines and change my flight. Unfortunately, at Heathrow, once you are airside, there is no way to transfer to a different terminal. I am in Terminal 5 and American flies out of Terminal 3. So there I was surrounded by mobs of angry BA travelers and things are getting a bit out of control.
Then my husband gives me a great bit of advice, “Just go back through security.” So I sneak back through on the street side (which is think is pretty much illegal since I never went back through Passport Control), catch the train to Terminal 3 with no suitcase, and hurry to the American Airlines ticket counter.
The attendant was the nicest person possible and worked hard to get my new boarding pass taken care of. The only problem was BA had yet to release my current boarding pass so American could issue a new one. BUT their system is still down. And all the BA staff had gone missing because they don’t know what to tell customers. But thankfully my American Airlines agent, Juan Carlos, got everything situated for me.
He even escorted me through security and arranged for a cart to take me to the gate, where I immediately walked on the airplane with a sigh of relief. (Like all travelers, I’ve had my bad experiences with gate agents, but Juan Carlos was a professional in every sense of the word.)
Anyway, I made it back to DFW at 7:30 p.m. local. Breeze through Customs thanks to Global Entry – and the fact that my suitcase is still stuck at Heathrow. I quickly filed a lost baggage claim with BA. Next stop: the comfort of my home. Well, maybe not…
About a mile from my house, I was pulled over by the police. I wasn’t speeding and my stickers and inspections are up to date, so what gives? Turns out, I was stopped because I don’t have a front license plate on my car. Really? I did escape without a ticket and made it the last mile home.
Epilog: Well, I did finally receive my wayward luggage – three days later – and even though I had my travel issues, all in all it was a very successful trip. I do love my job. I do love aviation. And I do love to travel – but sometimes, well, not so much.
Until next time, fly safely,