Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Events - Part 2

So we landed in JFK and the first thing I needed to do was find a bathroom. Walk from the gate to Immigration area seems endless and there was no bathroom in sight. I approached Immigration and an employee asked me "US citizen". Yes, I replied, but where is the bathroom. He pointed around the corner. Finally! But with my luck I would find it closed for cleaning I thought. It wasn't closed.

A flight from Brazil was also being processed through Immigration at the same time, but the wait was not that long. The officer who stamped my passport said "Welcome home", which I thought was a nice touch. I went and got my luggage and then proceeded to go stand in another long line and recheck the bag. In Cairo they had been unable to issue my next boarding passes so I would have to get those as well. Surprisingly there was no line. I got my passes and rechecked the luggage. I had to go to terminal 4 for my next flight. Since it was only 8:30 ish and my next flight did not leave till 12:30 I decided to head over to terminal 4 and have breakfast. I emerged from the Airtran in terminal 4 to find the only sit down type restaurant closed. Fast food places were open, as well as the serve yourself pastry shops. I decided before I do anything else, I should call my bank and let them know I was back in the US and would be using the ATM card.

The automated customer service walked me through the process of giving my details, but as usual, there was no selection for the service I needed. After a while a real person finally came on the phone. Here is where it got interesting. They told me I did not pass the security screening and that my account was now being placed on hold. If I wanted to unhold it I would have to go into a bank branch. Great! There was no Bank of America branch in Indiana where I was headed. I decided to try to use the ATM card anyway and get a cup of coffee and a sandwich. DECLINED. No breakfast for me. Luckily I found a $5 bill in my wallet and was able to get the coffee anyway.

I moved into the gate area about 2 hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. From where I was sitting I had a good view of the security screening area so I amused myself for the next few hours people watching. I still was not sure I was in the right gate area as they had made a gate change and everyone at my gate was confused. But the gate change was for a different flight. I was going to Detroit. Turns out I was in the right gate area for my flight, but I started to get nervous when 12:00 rolled around and the plane had not even arrived at the gate yet. "Delayed" was flashing on the screen. Great. I had a connection to make in Detroit with a tight window. I was supposed to get to Detroit around 2:30 and my next flight left Detroit at 3:25. This delay was pushing me closer to a possible miss. I will probably end up missing my next flight and if I don't it will mean running through Detroit airport to get to the gate instead of a nice leisurely walk. Again, with my bad luck, the arrival gate and departure gate at Detroit will probably be at opposite ends of the airport.

I was right. When we finally arrived in Detroit I had to go to the opposite end of the airport and over to a different terminal. With less than 20 minutes before scheduled take off, I wasn't sure I could make it. I just said out loud "Terminal B" and this man (who was headed in that direction, too) looked at me and said follow me. I took off running up stairs and escalators, long corridors and a shuttle train. Once out of the shuttle train I had to run down another long corridor. Running on moving sidewalks is not an easy task. I reached the B terminal by gate 20 and still had to get to gate 11. More running on moving sidewalks. I reached the gate to find a handful of people proceeding through the gate. All zones should now be boarded. When the gate agent scanned my ticket it beeped. What now I thought. It was just a warning from Delta that this passenger might miss the flight due to a late takeoff from JFK. That was nice of them.

I thought the worst was behind me and it would be smooth sailing from there. I could not have been more wrong.


  1. Uh, you are really a lucky one, no?

  2. Can it get any worse?

  3. Actually, the ATM card problem is entirely your fault. You do not need to inform the bank you are back in the States to be able to use it. You should have just gone ahead and used it. You raised their suspicion yourself and that is why it was blocked, AFTER your call.

  4. Actually, no, it's not my fault. Since I live in Egypt, and my ATM card is used primarily in Egypt, I need to notify them when I am going to use it in another country. When we first opened the account in the US, it was getting blocked in Egypt all the time. Since this is a special case where the account owner lives permanently overseas - you do need to inform the bank for every move you make or they suspect fraud.

    If I had not called the bank to let them know I was in the US they would have blocked it because there is a note on our account that says this account is onlt being used from Egypt. So it is not my fault.

    The problem was because of my midwestern accent the person on the phone mis-heard my social security number (I said 9 and she heard 5) and entered it wrong causing me to not pass the security screening of name, date of birth and social security number.

  5. seems the States are to security minded in my opinion. Mind you it is not much different here in Australia, had much the same drame with my cards when i only went for a holiday in Egypt.
    Never mind thats what makes life so interesting, Anyways welcome home OFG and hope to see more of your travel tales here soon, they make great reading, also cant wait to see some of your Photos that you have taken while back home.

    Regards from Australia