7/3/13 - 7/20/13
Update: All new posts can be found at http://thewanderingmind.net.
Whoever said "Getting there is half the fun" or "The journey is the reward" obviously never had a 12 hour layover at JFK. Or they are just liars. Let me assure you, getting from Dallas to Berlin with an unexpectedly long layover in between was neither fun nor rewarding. But first, back to the beginning when we were naive and hopeful and blissfully unaware of the impending fiasco.
The adventure began Tuesday evening. Our flight was at 6 am Wednesday morning, so we made the decision to stay up all night rather than sleep for only a couple of hours. Plus, Clay may have still needed to pack. And decide what he wanted to pack. And perhaps even still buy a couple items of clothing. We hoped that staying up all night would ensure that by the time we got on the plane to Berlin, we would be tired enough to sleep despite the discomfort of airplane seats and would arrive in Berlin (relatively) ready to go. Thus, we spent Tuesday night doing things like eating one final meal of Mexican food (it's an addiction, I tell you) and making trips to Walmart at 2 in the morning to buy last minute items.
Although it was early in the morning, the flight from DFW to LaGuardia was uneventful. I was still buzzing from a combination of way too much caffeine and the excitement of a European vacation. Our luck continued as we transferred from LaGuardia to JFK. The taxi ride was less than $40 and took about 30 minutes. So far, so good. And then we arrived at JFK.
We knew we had a bit of a layover (about 6 hours at this point, so we thought...), so we were hoping to check in, get through security, and grab some lunch before finding a spot to settle in while we waited. Ha. Ha. Ha. Problem number 1: the Air Berlin desk did not open until 2 pm - 3 hours after we arrived at the airport. Unless we wanted to pay exorbitant amounts of money to store our baggage, which we could not check, and then take a taxi into the city, our only option was to wait. There were no seats and only a little snack bar outside of security. So we sat...
until the Air Berlin desk finally opened. Problem number 2: As soon as we arrived, we noticed that our flight was delayed - by 6 hours. In other words, the flight that should have left at 5:30 pm and arrived in Berlin first thing in the morning was now leaving at 11:30 pm and not arriving until the afternoon. I will be honest, by this point I was a teensy bit grumpy. I may have even cried a little. We hadn't even left the country and things were already going wrong, I was exhausted (going on 30 hours of no sleep), I was not impressed by Air Berlin's customer service or communication, I was losing half a day of our time in Berlin, and I was hungry. Like I said, grumpy, although Clay may have used an alternative descriptor or two.
Once we made it through security, which was thankfully quick, the first order of business was to find a spot for lunch. After not too much debate given that we hadn't eaten since 4 am, we decided to try O'Neal's. It was a solid choice. We both had delicious burgers - Clay tried turkey and I went with veggie.
It was during this lunch that we made the best decision of the trip. Seriously. Given the length of the layover, we decided to buy Admiral's Club Lounge day passes. At $50 apiece, we more than got our money's worth. For more than 7 hours, we enjoyed comfortable seats, wifi, electric outlets, drinks, and snacks.
It was worth every penny! Finally, we got ready to board around 11:30 pm. Despite the exhaustion (approaching 40 hours without sleep), we were thrilled to be on our way.
The flight took off around midnight. Air Berlin's coach class was reasonably comfortable with the typical amenities one would expect on an international flight. Not that I fully appreciated anything except the opportunity to sleep. Forty+ hours of not sleeping, plus melatonin, plus a glass of wine ensured that not even a coach class airplane seat could keep me awake.
We were both able to get some sleep on the 7.5 hour flight despite the oddly timed meal service including dinner (at about 1 am according to our bodies) and breakfast (which was served at almost lunchtime in Berlin). The food was edible, but honestly more sleep would have been a better choice than waking up for dinner. Each seatback had movies and other entertainment options, but I was too tired to take advantage of any of them.
After an arduous journey to Europe, we were excited and relieved to finally arrive in Berlin at around 1 pm. Now the real fun could begin!