Thursday, September 20, 2012

Locked Up Abroad (in Bangkok for smuggling Crest Toothpaste)

Whoa.  Deep breath.  I am on the flight from London to Bangkok.

My flight from Chicago to London was pretty uneventful and I slept right through most of it.

We got in late but I didn’t even look at exactly where I was flying next, what airline or when it took off.

Upon decent, when I got my itinerary out and determined that the connection was going to be pretty tight, I prepared for the worst… but just went through the motions.  My flight was at 12:30 and it was already 11:45.  I had to get on a bus to the next terminal (the sign said that took 6 minutes).  I did my best to just stay in the moment and noticed that the guts of Heathrow are actually pretty cool.  They have these silver baggage chutes that spiral down from above.  It is very surreal.

Once I got to the terminal, I figured out that I’d have to go through security again.  Oh no.  And the line was long.  But I didn’t want to be that ugly American and ask agents what I could do.  Then there was this very polite woman answering questions for a couple so I asked her too… and she sent me to a special priority line.  OK, now this was getting somewhere.  It was 12:10.  Then after a bit, I realized that I still wasn’t going to make it.  But again, I didn’t want to raise a stink.  Then this woman behind me got an agent’s attention that she had a 1pm flight and she didn’t think she was going to make it.   So then I felt obligated to chime in that mine was at 12:30.  You won’t believe it, but the agent told her to stay there and grabbed me and put me at the front of the x-ray right then and there. 

It was still really far after security to the gate.  And I wasn’t sure which gate anyway.  Ugh!  Ok, once I figured it out – it said Gate 5 – CLOSING.  Crap.  I hauled ass but by then it was 12:15.  I was screwed.  Then this cart asked me if I was going to Bangkok on Thai Airlines and I told them I was… they said they were LOOKING FOR ME.  Can you believe it?  I was the last customer, but at least they were expecting me still.  I hopped on and it was a safari airport terminal style. We were beeping and throwing people out of the way… little kids with mini rollerbags were tumbling down in front of us and then a wheelchair bound elderly Indian man couldn’t nudge over to let us by… it was a nightmare.  But I was so excited that they knew I was on the way and held the plane for me!

There were no fewer than six airline employees waiting for me at the gate and I was the very last passenger on board.  Whew.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so happy.  I have no idea how many other flights there possibly are from London to Bangkok and what that would have done to my vacation plans.

Everything happens for a reason.  J

Thai Airways is really nice.  There are tons of recent movies to choose from (I watched at least five on this 11 hour flight) and the curry for lunch was delicious.  And of course there is the fact that they send search parties out to find their last straggler passengers.  They have my business for sure.

Then after the flight they gave me a little flower corsage.  So classy.

Once I made it to Bangkok (it’s Friday 9/21 already), I had to go through security once again.  This time they called me on my toothpaste.  I’m an old-school holdout for crest regular paste so I brought a full sized tube in my carry on.  Chicago O’Hare had no issue with that.  London Heathrow had not problem with that.  But Bangkok did.  Ugh.  It was because it is larger than the allowable ounces in a tube.  I asked if I could squirt some of it out and still keep it… but the security agent said no.  Well, I certainly don’t want to be in a “Locked Up Abroad” episode for arguing over toothpaste.  I hope they have Crest in Bali!

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