On Saturday, June 2nd Meylin and I woke up early to finish packing for our European flight from Rome, Italy to Madrid, Spain. The airline that was recommended to us, EasyJet, had a policy that you are only allowed one carry-on luggage in addition to the checked bag you paid for when purchasing your tickets. There was also a restriction to keep that checked bag under 20 kilograms (44 lbs). As I am sure you guessed, we had some serious rearranging to do. Both of us ended up giving/throwing away some items we normally would have kept, but it was necessary to lighten our load. Thanks to our wonderful roommate, Jen – who brought a scale – I was able to get my suitcase down to just under 40 lbs. My carry-on therefore weighed about a hundred. Meylin ended up with a similar situation only she bought her carry-on in Italy so that she would have the correct measurements.
The first issue we encountered was with the taxi we reserved for 5 people the previous day. We asked for a van since we would have so many suitcases, but apparently a van in Italy is the size of a regular 4 door car in the US. Long story short, Logan and Briana were nice enough to let Jenny, Meylin and I have the van taxi because our flights were leaving first. I hope it wasn’t too difficult for you guys to find one afterwards! This made us all very sad because we had to say our goodbyes way quicker than we would have wanted to.
Once we got to the airport, we were instantly lost. Everything was so confusing and we didn’t recognize any of the signs around us. We eventually asked a nice, English speaking lady at one of the checkout lanes where we needed to go to find our airlines. This, however, ended up being extremely disappointing because Jenny had to take a bus to her terminal and Meylin and I had to walk over to ours – I was very sad to part ways so soon! Meylin and I had to get there quick since we didn’t know how long checking our bags, going through security, and getting to our gate would take. We quickly found EasyJet though because their advertising was posted everywhere. Meylin and I stepped into the very long, roped off maze that they call a line. While waiting, we decided to document how we felt:
Checking our luggage in went pretty smoothly after we finally made it to the front of the line – mine ended up weighing 18.7 kg! I had a small freak-out moment when I couldn’t find the flight confirmation email I printed off, but all was well when the lady found me in the system using my passport info. We then walked over towards security where we were stopped and asked to put our carry-ons into this box-like contraption.
It took a minute of finagling my massive load of crap in my travel bag, but eventually I was able to smush it into the little cubby. I was so excited about it that I immediately shouted “voila” to the poor guy in charge of that station. He laughed a little and then gave me the sticker of approval. I looked over to my traveling partner who was having some trouble. Somehow we were able to tag-team her beautiful luggage into the tiny compartment – again, I uncontrollably shouted “voila”. She too was given the sticker of approval and it took both me and a lady that worked there to get the suitcase out! Honestly, I think it was the wheels that made it difficult to easily slide Meylin’s luggage in and out of that thing.
With a sigh of relief, we then headed over to security and passed through with flying colors. We had about 30 mins before our gate was scheduled to start loading, so we took turns visiting the cafe to get some lunch since neither of us ate any breakfast. All of a sudden, a voice came over the loudspeaker and a flood of people rushed to form a line at our gate. I took a second, but decided to get in line and hold our spots for whatever this was. As we later learned, apparently with this airline there are no seat assignments. It operates like a bus line wherein the first come first served policy holds true. As we waited, a man began coming up to people and asking them to come to the front to measure their suitcases. I wasn’t worried because I figured those people hadn’t done so at check-in. This, however, was not the case.
After a long wait, we eventually started moving to the front. We had our tickets and passports ready to go and Meylin was in ahead of me in line. As she handed over her information, a lady standing next to the measuring box told her to put her luggage in. I was ready to stand aside and wait, but they hurried me forward. Once I got into the hallway leading to the plane, I asked the attendant if I could wait their for Meylin. She said No. I tried to explain the situation, but she was having none of it and told me that I had to continue down the hallway. I followed her instructions, but after a few minutes and not seeing Meylin enter, I asked the people in front of me if they would watch my bag while I went back up to check on my friend. They were kind enough to do so and I sneaked past the attendant lady where I found Meylin in tears handing her credit card to the people at the desk. I immediately knew what had happened.
After the payment went through, they finally let Meylin pass. As we turned to walk down I saw that the line was no longer there. Oh no, my luggage! I told Meylin that the people were watching it for me and that I had to run down there. I caught up with the line and tried to politely move forward where I found my luggage – the people had brought it down with them and waited for me at the door (who does that? Nicest strangers I have ever met!). I didn’t see Meylin behind me though – I had thought she would follow me through the crowd of people. I knew, however, that I could still get in and save us seats, so that is what I chose to do. Meylin ended up being the very last person on the plane – right after another couple that was told they had to pay extra for their carry-on luggage AS THEY ENTERED THE PLANE!! I cannot tell you how happy we were just to be in our seats and on our way to Madrid – at least it was only a 2 hour flight.
The only nice thing that happened to us, besides the wonderfully kind strangers that watched my bag, was a flight attendant named Javier who noticed that Meylin wasn’t feeling good and came over to our seats to give her a cup of vapor medicine. He had made the whole thing using an airplane cup, napkins, and a vapor tablet he must have had with him. It was so nice to see someone actually care about how she felt and not try to cheat her on something. I cannot tell you how stressful and emotional this experience was. We both agreed that we would never fly with EasyJet again – especially after hearing that Meylin’s brother and sister-in-law had the same thing happen to them only days earlier!
I am very happy to be in Spain with Meylin and her family and friends, but the journey getting here was beyond difficult. At least it is a memory I will never forget.