When I decided to celebrate my dad's 85th birthday in Germany, I had no idea what I was in for. After all, I had crossed the Atlantic quite a few times before without any problems. Not this time.
The flight from Pittsburgh to Charlotte was uneventful. The trouble began after boarding the flight to Frankfurt. Two hours later, we still hadn't moved, supposedly because there was an engine problem and the crew had to check off their checklist. About one hour after taking off from Charlotte, the pilot announced that we had to return to Charlotte because the air over Frankfurt was cold and the sensor of the deicer was not working properly. BUT, the plane was too heavy to land and that we had to dump fuel first. After several hours of rough flying at different altitudes we landed back in Charlotte. We were instructed to stay at the gate because the problem should be fixed in 30 minutes or so. I quickly called my husband - who wrongly assumed that I had already landed in Germany - to contact my ride in Germany before making an unnecessary trip to the airport.
After 30 minutes of waiting, we were told it would take another 45 minutes. Then, the work crew had reached their time limit and another one had to be called in. But, not to worry. They provided food (since when are pretzels a food group?) and beverages for us while we waited. And waited. Meanwhile, the last restaurant in our concourse had long closed its doors. Around four o'clock in the morning, passengers began to revolt and finally the airline decided to cancel the flight entirely. We had to stand in line to rebook flights with the promise that the airline would reimburse us for our hotel up to a certain amount. I was shaking with hunger when I finally received boarding passes for a flight to Philadelphia on the following afternoon and from there with Lufthansa to Frankfurt. In the meantime, I had to fetch my luggage and find a hotel at five o'clock in the morning for a quick nap. Then I was off to finally have breakfast before returning to the airport.
To be continued...