Expert Traveler

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There are three lines at the airport security checkpoint: Family, Casual Traveler and Expert Traveler.

Nice equine themed security lanes, Louisville.

          After some consideration, Joann and I chose the Casual traveler lane, though, we decided, we were surely being modest. Surely we, experienced globe-trotting Masters degree-having sophisticated singer folks, are Expert Travelers. We had our shoes off and ready to go as we approached the scanners, our computers out, jewelry off. We were ready.

We sailed right through the scanner, and smugly collected our things…but the security dude was holding Joann’s carryon. He politely explained that she had forgotten to remove her liquids. How embarrassing, for Expert Travelers such as ourselves, but certainly no big deal. I assumed that she would fish out her 1 qt. bag of toiletries in 3 oz. containers, they’d send the whole thing back through and we’d be on our way. Instead he pulled out a Walmart bag with two huge bottles of shampoo, a huge bottle of lotion and a bottle of mouthwash. Oops. Into the trash they went, and the bag went back through the scanner. By his facial expression as grimly opened the bag a second time searching for contraband, the security officer had obviously judged us as not just as the opposite of Expert Travelers, but also possibly dangerously clueless. He swabbed the inside of her bag for explosives and sent us on our way with a stern look.

One short, uneventful flight later, and we were ready to check in to our flight from Philadelphia to Munich. As we stood in line, a friendly German lady standing next to me pointed out that I could have checked in much earlier, being seated in Zone 3, not Zone 5, as Jo’s ticket declared her to be. We were, understandably, upset by the prospect of sitting so far apart for a 7 hour flight. International flights are trying enough without sitting next to a total stranger. When we reached the desk, I handed over my boarding pass, and asked if we could be moved so that we would sit next to each other, to no avail. Bummed but stalwart, we boarded the flight and went to our respective sections.

I found my seat–right next to the kindly German woman I had spoken to minutes before. I was supposed to be in 12A, the window seat, but she had scooted over instead of letting me in, so I graciously sat on the isle rather than causing a scene. It’s the kind of small sacrifice that Expert Travelers make for the comfort of their fellow passengers. Suddenly there was a young man standing in front of me looking confused, and holding out his ticket. 12B. “Oh! Yes, I have 12A,” I said, confident that the mistake could not be mine. The German woman looked confused and pointed to the next section of seats across the isle”12C, D, A” she said, pointing. No no, not “Eh” (the German letter E) but rather “Ah” (the German A). She looked more confused and held up her ticket. 12A. Now, that’s just no good at all….

After a few moments of fumbling around in confusion the answer came to me. The boarding pass I was holding, the one that I had been inexplicably scanned in under to get onto this flight to Munich was the pass from Louisville to Philadelphia. I fished out the other pass, and saw, to my chagrin that my seat was right where it was supposed to be, next to Joann. Fantastic. She about peed herself laughing at me as I fished my bag out of the overhead and walked back to row 19, where I was supposed to be.

Expert Travelers indeed.

Tomorrow we take the train to Graz. Hopefully we’ll have worked off some of that Travel Karma by then…

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2 responses »

  1. Glad to hear you made it through without too many shenanigans. Hostels, in my experience, can be hit or miss. When Drew and I were travelling from Regensburg to Italy and back we stayed in several hostels. One was downright scary, another was relatively quaint, and a third was pretty much like camping.

    I hope you expert travelers get some sleep tonight before you take the train. Auf Wiedersehen!

  2. Heehee! Oh travel woes. I think even expert travelers have them, as evidenced by the guy that accidentally grabbed Jamie’s bag when we came to visit you. He was obviously enough of a frequent flier that the airport staff knew him, and yet he didn’t check his own nondescript bag closely, nor did he have any kind of identifying thing attached to it.

    Glad you’re safe and will be following your adventures! 😀

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