This is a story all about how my flight got flipped-turned upside down. Now I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I made a friend before off up in the air.
I’m an eager beaver, no doubt about it. My flight from Barcelona to Prague was scheduled for 2:35pm on Czech Airlines (CSA). Naturally, I show up to the airport around 11:30.
When I had arrived, I checked the flight boards for CSA’s check-in desk number. Although flights later than 2:35pm had already appeared, my flight was apparently missing. Not stressing yet, I figured it was because I was three hours early, rather than two, and that it’d show up on the board at 12:30pm. I plopped down and waited my turn.
Come 12:30pm, I return to the flight board only to see that my flight has yet to appear. Indeed, I start to get a bit nervous. I check my phone to make sure I was at the right airport at the right time on the right day. Check check check. So what’s the issue? As I sit there pondering the possibilities, a voice startled me.
Tienes minutos en su teléfono? Puedo usarlo para llamar a alguien?
Now my below sub-par Spanish did, somehow, understand that he was asking to borrow my phone. Without hesitation, I agree.
He dials the number, and after a few seconds informs me (in Spanish), that my minutes had run out. Whoops. However, I did have data to download WhatsApp? for him.
“De donde eres?” He inquires.
“Los Estados Unidos.”
“O, que ciudad?”
[In a very non-latino accent] “Oh, bro, I’m from New York!” Why this wasn’t his lead, I don’t know.
I can tell he’s disgruntled and I ask, “Are you alright?”
“Bro… I f***ing missed my f****ing flight. This morning, I lost my passport and had to go to the US Embassy. While I was there, I decided to ruffle through my luggage one more time and there it was! I had to rush to the airport and I got here 15 minutes before the plane was set to leave but they had already closed the gate. I’m a f****ing idiot!”
Now me, being the savy, calm traveller that I am, wasn’t too worried for him, it was all going to work out. I asked him if he was going to be able to reschedule his flight.
“Yea Bro, but they’re only giving me one hour to pay them 150.00 Euro before they have to cancel my booking! Bro I’m gonna lose like five hundred f****ing dollars if they do.”
“Well.. pay them.”
“Dude I can’t. I have absolutely no money, my card keeps getting declined, and my phone’s not working to contact my parents. I didn’t even have money to pay the taxi driver who took me here. He took my contact information and a picture of my passport. Not to mention I puked in the back! Bro I don’t know what I’m going to f***ing do.”
All the mean while, he’s still grasping onto my phone (with my consent) trying to get ahold of his parents back home. Now remember, this is 12:30pm in Barcelona, and where they are, it’s only 6:30am. Needless to say his folks weren’t up yet.
I told him what I tell every stressed out person, “Relax, it will all work out because it literally has to. You may have to spend some extra money, and you may have to stay an extra night here, but you won’t die.”
Finally, his endless calls wake his mother up who, thankfully, rushed to the bank to deposit the money needed.
Of course, the money wasn’t the issue. His card was getting declined for security reasons and he had no way of contacting his bank. The air carrier’s desk wouldn’t let them use their phone and the pay phones at the airport wouldn’t do international.
Running back and forth between me and the desk agent, he’s running out of ideas of what to do. Luckily, the desk agent is being a little lenient and is extending the, in my mind, BS deadline.
My new friend mentions that he doesn’t even have any more money to get back to town. Now, I’m a believer in karma, and so, without thought, I withdrew 40 Euros and handed him all of it. That’s at least a bus to the city, a night in a hostel, and a meal.
However, I made him work for it. If you recall, at the beginning of the story, my flight hadn’t shown up on the flight board. I told him he now has to translate for me when we approach the information desk. They tell me my flight had been changed to 7:00pm. Well this is news to me! They mention they had sent me an email and I called BS, but I let it go, I’m on no strict time crunch. I take my seat, check my email, and lo and behold, there the message was. Whoops.. my bad. Looks like we’re both f***ng idiots.
Back to my amigo. After a few brainstorming sessions, we decided the best course of action was to reach out to his amigo here in Spain. Fortunately for us, he agreed to pay the change fee. To my regret, I had to leave him, but I told him to let me know how it all turned out. Our four hour escapade had come to an end.
As I told him, and as the motto has been for this entire trip, “we’re making memories.” This story will be one for the ages, for him and myself. I made a friend too, which is one of the main reasons why I travel.