third time’s a charm, right?

…an EVIL charm maybe.

On this, my third and definitely final trip to Iaşi this year, I had high hopes that all my travel ducks would be in a row. Previous trips have gone off without a hitch — airport pick-ups and drop-offs, customs, luggage, hotels, and taxi transportation have all been no problem in the past.

But this time, something’s different. I flew Austrian Airlines instead of Carpatair, transferring in Vienna instead of Timişoara and decided to check my bag at the ticket window in Munich early Monday morning.

Well, right after that, I forgot that I still had my little Leatherman Squirt pocketknife attached to my keychain. I realized it before going through the metal detectors toward the gate, but my baggage (just one small suitcase) was already being checked onto the plane, so I couldn’t stash it in there. I went back to the Lufthansa (they do the check-in for Austrian…I guess the Anschluss lives on in some ways), and the ladies there were very nice, offering to walk me down to the Service Center where I could do short or long term storage of luggage and other items. I ended up paying €2,50 to store my entire keychain for up to three months (I plan to return on Friday afternoon). And with that, my first problem was solved. I thought to myself, “See? No sweat.”

I got to the gate still in plenty of time and waited and waited and waited. Finally they let us board the plane…and then we waited another 30 minutes. This was only supposed to be a 40 minute flight, and I had something like only 35 minutes between landing and take-off of the next flight in Vienna. I got picked up outside the plane on the tarmac in Vienna where I was rushed to customs, re-scanned for metal, and then rushed back out to the tarmac for boarding on my flight to Iaşi. I was the last person on the plane, and my ticket was for a seat in the last row, so I got the stinkeye from everyone on board, who probably assumed that I was responsible for my own lateness. Right after I buckled myself in, it struck me that there was very little chance of my luggage arriving with me.

When we landed in Iasi, I was pretty much the last person off the plane. There was only one person working the Austrian Airlines desk in Iaşi, and he spent like 20 minutes each on the first two people whose luggage also got lost. An older Romanian man pushed me out of the way when it was my turn to present my baggage claim ticket, which made me mad. A Belgian lady and an English lady behind me in line grumbled in what they probably thought was support, but it just made things worse — the Austrian Airlines baggage claim guy yelled at her when she asked if he was the only one working.

End result: I get to go to work and train my new guy at 8:00 am on Monday wearing the same clothes — my “plane clothes,” as it were — I put on an 4:00 am on Sunday. Yuck. And I was sleepy after my travels today, so I napped and now I’m up at 4:30 in the morning on Monday, waiting for the hotel’s restaurant to open for breakfast at 7:00.

But the good news is: I got a chance to walk around town in daylight for the first time and snap some pictures.