Zebulon Montgomery Pike Trail to the sources of the Mississippi 1805 — 1806

Day 41: September 20th, 2002 Pittsburgh — Munich

Today I have plenty of time to pack my stuff together. When I booked the flight I missed, that I only have 45 minutes at Chicago to switch planes. Usually this is enough, because I don’t have to go through security again. But if something goes wrong…

Anyways, last year everything went fine and I am ready for the airport departure around half past twelve. Helen arrives in time and we hit the road. This is the last time for me this year to be on American highways.

At the airport we say good–bye. The check–in runs easy as always. Also I have no issues at security. But they check more thoroughly here than in Chicago!

Then I walk to the train station which takes me to the departure terminals. Then a brief walk to the United terminals and I made it. The plane arrives well in time and all people leave the plane. But then nothing happens. Suddenly an announcement that this machine cannot take off due to a technical problem. Great, how shall I catch now my connecting flight in Chicago?

An endless waiting line builds up to check in for another flight. After a felt eternity it is finally my turn. When the lady sees my ticket I see her jaw dropping. We have a problem! Really lady? I would have not realized that…

She checks all connecting flights. But even on Sunday is no seat left. And I have to be back at work on Monday. Now she tries with other airlines and eventually she finds one at US Airways. There is a flight to Paris and from there I can take Lufthansa to Munich.

Oh no. But if this is the only chance, I have no other choices. She also says, that my suitcase will be checked in and transported for the whole flight. Let’s see if the suitcase really arrives in Munich. But for now I have some time left to call home and tell the news about my flight change.

Then I have to get my boarding ticket. United only gave me a regular booking ticket. They cannot print a boarding ticket there. So I have to wait in line at US Airways. The lady looks pretty amazed when she sees my United ticket. But she prints the boarding ticket without hesitation. Sure I don’t have now my nicely reserved window seat. But I am glad, that I am able to depart at least on the same day.

My neighbor is an American, who is on a language training trip to Europe. Suddenly the stewardess searches for a Mr. Götz. I tell her I am here. She says, that I have to pick all my carry–on and go to the front. There they have an important message for me!

I am already afraid, that I am not allowed to take this flight. But it’s only a special baggage check. The computer picks some customers by chance which undergo a special search. Ok guys, have fun with all my carry–on and all my film cans. In the meantime I start to have malicious joy. I also endure this procedure, whereas I really question this system. If I would have been a terrorist, then I would have been on a completely wrong flight, because my booked one was canceled. So what do they expect to find here?

After a while they have searched everything and found nothing as expected. I am allowed to go back to my seat and can make myself comfortable again. Then the flight starts. The plane does not really look trustworthy. Looks like it already has been many years in service. There I like the Lufthansa planes or the new United Airlines planes much more.

But I survive this flight and land in Paris on time. Hopefully there is no issue in catching the connecting flight and my boarding ticket. Before you reach the passport inspection, there are screens to check at which gate my flight departs. Then I follow the gate signs. But the exit is closed and I have to walk all the way back to the passport inspection.

After I made this, the search goes on. Eventually I discover the way to the gate. Again it is also an endless walk here. When I arrive I cannot see any counter, where I might receive my boarding ticket. So I walk all the way back to find a counter back there.

After an endless search I almost give up. Slowly I am running out of time and I ask a Lufthansa employee in English, who is just crossing my path. She takes a look at my ticket and put on a face: There is a stamp missing!

Great, and what now? She says, that I shall hurry up and run to the gate where I will receive my ticket. So again all the way back. When I enter the room completely I see the counter and hand over my ticket. I receive the boarding ticket without any issues, almost too easy and I wait for the bad to come. But everything works out fine.

I go through security and can board the plane. Sure I also have no window seat here. Also all seats are booked on this flight. But lucky me that flight doesn’t take long and I arrive in Munich on time.

As usual we park at the farthest gate away and a bus takes us all to the main building. But at least I am in a well known region now. I don’t need the passport inspection here and I arrive directly at the baggage claim. After a while the suitcases roll in. These are not many. Looks like most of the people have connecting flights here in Munich. But even after waiting for a while, my suitcase does not show up. Haven’t I already assumed something like this?

Maybe my suitcase took the original plane and is now in Chicago, who knows. So I have to fill out another lost luggage form for my suitcase, for the first time here in Germany. Then I leave the baggage area without any suitcase.

My parents already wait for me and expected that something has happened again with my suitcase — nothing new with me. Later I will see that my suitcase took the right plane, but the French guys at Charles de Gaulle where not able to transfer my suitcase within time.

So this vacation ends a bit chaotic. Usually I have these kind of issues at the beginning. Anyways, I don’t really need this kind of trouble. Let’s see what happens next year on my trails…

  • Sights
  • General
  • Breakfast: Home
  • Dinner: Plane
  • Motel: —
  • Distance: —