Friday, 29 September 2017

Milan, Italy (Malpensa Airport)

Had time this morning to have breakfast and casually pack and get ready for my flight to London. Since the flight was at 1:20 p.m. I planned to check-in at least two hours before the flight.

At the airport’s departure area I looked at my ticket and it said the check-in location was in the 9th row. I went up the 9th row and didn’t see any British Airways flights. Then I checked the big board with all the flights and no British Airways flights at all. Then I looked at my ticket closer and saw that the departing airport was not Malpensa, but actually Milan’s Linate airport across town. How could I have made a mistake like this? No time to wonder about that, I needed to get to the Linate Airport.

I asked the information desk how long it would take for a taxi to get to the Linate Airport and she said about an hour. I didn’t have an hour, but decided to make a try for it. First, I needed to get some money from an ATM. Thought 100 Euros would cover the cost of the ride. As I was walking towards the airport’s taxi stand, I was approached by a guy who asked me if I needed a taxi. I said yet, but they will need to get me to Linate Airport for a 1:20 p.m. flight, and it was 11:35 now.

Off we ran to the parking structure where his car was located. (Not a regular taxi. But at this point I didn’t care.) He understood I was in a rush and off we went. Along the way he made some driving maneuvers (like driving toward oncoming traffic and using the bus lane, etc.). This was through mid-day traffic, which was heavy is many spots. He took side streets and honked a lot. I followed his progress on my GPS and kept telling myself it would all be okay.

During this drive through Milan, I made another flight reservation to London on my phone. Got a fare for a little over $200, which wasn’t bad, but it didn’t leave until 7:00 p.m. But I had to get to my hotel tonight or I’d be charged for a night’s stay. This was really going to be an expensive mistake if I don’t catch my original flight.

In my head, I was planning what I’d do when I arrive at the airport and preparing myself to put aside “Mr. Nice Guy” and go for it. Of course, remembering to say please and thank you often.

We arrived at the airport in just a little over 45 minutes. I had asked him earlier about paying him, just to get that out of the way, and he said to wait. As he pulled my suitcase out of the back of this car, he said the fare would be 150 Euros. I pulled out what I had and it was 115 Euros. He must not have had a credit card terminal. I just looked at him and gave what I had. I knew that making 115 Euro ($135) was a good wage for about an hour of work. He let me go and I thanked him then ran for the terminal.

At check-in I got in front of the business class line and had my ticket on my phone ready and my passport. Fortunately, the woman at the desk immediately waited on me but she need to ask her co-workers what to do since they had closed boarding for the flight. After a few minutes she took my bag and gave me a paper ticket and she said, “Run.” The gate was B28. And off I went.

The security line was not too far away and I got in front of the line and people kindly got out of the way. I must have looked really frantic. (I was!) While I got through the line, one of the security guys pulled me aside and ran some strips over my bag and tested them. (Earlier, to make sure my large suitcase was under 23 kg, I moved some of the heaver items to my carry on bag. It was quite a diverse collection in my bag when I finished.) I’m sure that is why they wanted a closer look. After a few minutes he let me go and I was off to the next station – Passport Control.

At Passport Control, they look at your passport and stamp it to show that you were leaving the EU. Actually the UK is still in the EU, but because they have different travel requirements you get clocked out of the EU and admitted to the UK when you arrive. Again I went to the front of the line and got through there in 5 minutes.

Now I had to sprint through the duty free shops (about the length of a football field). Was thinking that the gate B28 could be at the end of a long concourse. As I was getting myself ready for a longer run I discovered that B26 РB28 were bunched together straight ahead. What a relief! Now to see if boarding had started. Another positive sign was that boarding had just started when  arrived at gate B28. I had made it to the gate within 20 minutes. Amazing!

When I found an open chair I sat down and started to see about cancelling the flight that I had booked during the drive to the airport. Doing all of this on a phone’s small screen wasn’t easy and I forgot my Easyjet password, so needed to make up a new password as the other passengers were getting on board.

Once I got on board and in my seat I took time to be grateful that everything worked out well and thanked everyone who helped me out along the way. Then I finished up cancelling the later flight. In the end I was out 115 Euros, but it was a small expense compared to what it could have been.

The rest of the travel process worked out well. Though it was interesting when I went through Passport Control in Heathrow. When I met with the agent, she asked about what I was going to do in the U.K. for the next month. Then she asked about where I was going after that and I said I wasn’t quite sure at this point. Perhaps Iceland or maybe Spain and Portugal. She looked at me, handed me my stamped passport and said, “It must be nice.” All without a smile. I thought to myself, it sure is and looked for the nearest restroom.

Took the underground from Heathrow in to London. On the way in I was reading the local news and saw that the underground in London was going on a one-day strike on Thursday. Wait a minute. Isn’t that the day I’m leaving for Edinburgh? It was. More planning ahead on how I’ll get from my hotel to the train station. Guess I’ll work on that later. All I wanted to do was get checked into my room and take a nap. I was out as my head hit the pillow.

After my nap, I walked over to the nearby mall and found a place that served Chinese food. Relaxed and enjoyed some “Special Noodles” and wontons.

What a day!

Looking forward to meeting up with Prean and Viktor. Nothing else planned for my stay in London. I’m okay with that.

 

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