The Trip Home (Day 51)

On Friday morning at 4 am, I took all of my bags down to the hotel lobby for my transfer to the airport.  Last time I hope I ever have to get up that early for a flight!  I had a flight from Athens to Madrid at 7 am.

When I got to the Madrid airport for my flight to Dallas, I was waiting at my gate and my name was called to come up to the desk.  My name had been randomly chosen for special security.  They escorted me (and a few others) to another area where I was questioned about my checked luggage.  She asked if anyone had given me anything to put in my luggage, a bunch of other questions similar to that, and then ended with asking if I had anything sharp with me!  After that, they sent me over to an area where I was patted down and then they went through both of my carry on bags.  Once they finished all of this, they escorted several of us back to our gate and had us sit in a little area behind a rope while everyone else was boarding the plane!  Crazy.  One-by-one, they pulled us out of the area and let us board the plane.

After a 10-hour flight, we landed in Dallas.  After they checked my passport, I went down an escalator with my carry on bags.  There was a lady standing at the bottom with a beagle that would smell everyone who walked by.  When I got to the bottom, the dog smelled my bags, looked excited, then sat down and looked up at its handler!  The lady asked me to step over to the side, and asked if I had any fruit.  I had an apple!  She wrote on my customs form and then let me go.

From there I went on to grab my checked bag to continue the journey through customs before I could go on to my final flight.  Customs ended up sending me to a special line that was about a mile long.  When I finally got up to the front, a customs officer did a hand search of both of my carry on bags and my checked bag.  Once he cleared me, I gave my big bag back to the airline to recheck it, and then I had to go back through security where I was sent through the body scanner!  Go figure.

Boarding for my flight from Dallas to Austin was delayed around 40 minutes, but the flight itself was only 30 minutes long.  When I got to Austin, I ran into the U.S. representative who I had interned for in DC in 2009 at the baggage claim!  We talked for a few minutes, and when he left, I realized my bag hadn’t ever come.  I had to go into the American Airlines baggage office and tell them my bag was missing, and they couldn’t tell me where it was.

I went home with my dad and the next morning when I woke up, my bag was waiting for me outside of my bedroom door.  Dad had to pick up my mom, aunt and cousin at the airport about two hours after he had gotten me, and by then my bag had arrived at the airport, so my mom grabbed it for me.  When I opened it, I saw why it had missed my flight.  They went through it AGAIN!  In the bag, I had wine and mustard that I had bought in France for gifts.  All of it had made it untouched in flights from France to England, England to Italy, was carried in my bag across Italy and Greece and then flew from Greece to Spain, and Spain to Dallas, Texas untouched.  After U.S. customs went through my luggage and cleared me, the airport I guess wasn’t satisfied and they went through my bag, unwrapped the mustard that had been wrapped in the store in France when I bought it, and moved one of the bags of wine from the side of the bag where it was protected, to the TOP of everything the bag where I’m so grateful it wasn’t smashed!  I’m also grateful they didn’t take anything.  But truly.  What list am I on?!