Lost in translation: I got lost in Germany while starting to write this. Well, not really lost, but left behind. Well, not even left behind. Let's just say Pro Light + Sound in Frankfurt (new products to be in next month's issue) ended, and I got to stick around for a few extra days, unplanned.
Suffice it to say that, when scheduled to leave a country, setting a reminder in your Treo for exactly one week after the time you actually want to wake up is a classic example of how technology is only as good as the jet lagged victim who is using it. When this backup failed (ha, backup failure — sound familiar to anyone?) following a wake up call that never came, I was forced to go to the airport anyway to change my flight (I tried to phone, to no avail). Add to this a plane ticket with a few restrictions — including being told, “This doesn't even look like a real ticket” — and I had a lot of time in a hotel room, wondering about getting back, turning around, and heading off to USITT in Houston.
I suppose I would not advise traveling on an airline whose name you don't recognize, especially when folks in the airport don't even know the airline has actually been sold (yeah, sold) and its flights are being checked in by a completely different carrier. And when you have no status (i.e., frequent flyer enrollment, gold, whatever), you are in trouble — either three extra days in Frankfurt or around $4,000 for the one seat I could get that day. Huh, Frankfurt it was!
There's a point — maybe more than one, actually. Besides needing a third backup, something amazing happened: one person made a difference. In the four hours I spent at the airport trying to change my flights, and after being sent here and there, back and forth across terminals and sky line trams and ticket counters, a very nice man at Air Berlin (in case you're wondering, apparently, Air Berlin now operates LTU Airlines) spent around an hour-and-a-half looking up every flight for every airline for that day and two days after to make sure I left the airport with a ticket in hand.
Thanks to that guy, my morning went from disaster and panic to “this is workable.” He even gave me candy — no kidding. So my regards to Air Berlin guy, wherever you are.
And in the end, I returned home safe and sound for 36 hours, got back on a plane and got to Houston, this time without drama. Strangely, I still seem to be on Frankfurt time.