June 14, 2013
Some of the group in the Goshen area met at Goshen College, where a Cardinal bus driven by Carl Metzler (married to my 5th cousin, Phyllis) was waiting for us. We arrived at the Detroit airport at 2:55 for a flight that was scheduled to leave at 6:05 p.m.
A couple of us were able to check in at the kiosks, but most of us were rejected, informed that we would need to see an agent to check in. After about 30 minutes of chaotic confusion, we learned that because we were all on one record, we would all need to see an agent. Because we were part of a large group, we were ushered to one particular agent with the name of "Nono" (no kidding!) who would check us all in. She started checking our passports and checking us in.
After another half hour or so, she had to leave because she had a flight that she needed to service. She flagged down a Delta colleague, saying, "I need to go service a flight and I want someone here who knows what they're doing." I was glad to hear that because I wanted someone there who knew what they were doing too!
This second agent soon had trouble checking anyone in. A Delta customer service agent on the phone discovered that the problem came from the fact that Menno Travel had included too much text in the "remarks" line. About half of us were standing to one side, waiting for everyone to get checked in so that they could get their boarding passes, while the ones who were later in line were getting their boarding passes as they checked in. While this was happening, we kept seeing the line for security getting longer and longer.
About this time another Delta agent came to ask the one who was helping us if she spoke Arabic. She had a family of four who needed someone who could speak Arabic. What unfolded was either comical or frustrating or both, depending on your perspective! Finally the second agent got back to helping us. At one point she said, "Don't worry. I'm in control of everything!" I had never heard anyone say that quite in that way, and I found it remarkable, which is why I am remarking on it.
Finally, after about an hour and a half, we were all checked in and had our boarding passes. A few of us were exceedingly happy that we were free to find a restroom! Going through security did not take long, since we had stood at the Delta counter long enough to see the security lines grow longer and longer and then also shorter and shorter!
By the time we all got to the gate, the one who was there last had perhaps 20 to 30 minutes to wait before boarding began. Once we were all on board, the pilot informed us that a person in the plane at the gate next to us was having a medical emergency and that was somehow delaying our push-back. I believe it was around 6:35 when we finally took off.
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Welcome to this window on the 2013 Mediterranean Cruisetour. As Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president, and Loren Johns, AMBS professor of New Testament, and 43 other travelers explore the places where the Apostle Paul traveled, they will share photos and reports here. Come back to this space for what we hope will be daily snapshots in words and photos of what the group is experiencing.
Visit Menno Travel to learn more about the Cruisetour.