This post won't include any photos; I rarely take pictures of airplane or airport interiors (even if TSA would let me). But our trip to Amsterdam to begin our European vacation had its moments.
The first moment began when departure time arrived and the United plane didn't take off. Oh, one of those. We sat on the tarmac for enough time to make our departure an hour late, which was interesting because our connection in Frankfurt was only an hour and a half. Maybe they'll make it up later, I thought; nothing we can do about it now.
We later learned the reason: a passenger had tried to bring a stroller onto the plane as a carry-on! The delay was how long it took TSA to get the damn thing into the cargo compartment where it belonged. I'm sure none of my friends would consider doing this, but if you should wonder whether that folding stroller will fold up small enough to fit in the overhead – the answer is, no. It won't.
The flight itself was about like any inter-continental flight, endless and uncomfortable. I really envy the people who can sleep in airplane seats; I can't. The main thing I discovered was that if you turn a smartphone on while flying internationally, it may tell you that it doesn't know what country you're in. I turned it off.
Our connection in Frankfurt was supposed to lift off at 11:15 local time, and it did. Lufthansa is good that way. Unfortunately, we weren't on it. To give them their due, the United crew really broke their backs to get us bussed into the terminal in time to make it; but Lufthansa didn't hold it; as we walked into the terminal, a United crew member walked up and told us the 11:15 flight had just left. The hero in this mess is Lufthansa. We went to their service desk, along with a trail of fellow stranded passengers, and explained the situation. The first thing they asked for was our luggage receipts, which we handed over; the agent poked at the computer, muttered to a colleague in German, and then said, "You're on the 12:55 flight to Amsterdam." Our luggage even made it – which is better than some of our fellow passengers got. At least 4 couples arrived in Amsterdam on the day of the cruise without luggage – one of them had to wait 4 days for it!
Since this was my first air trip to continental Europe, I learned a couple of new things, Frankfurt airport doesn't use jetways – those accordion tunnels you walk through. Every entry and exit to a plane we did in Frankfurt was up or down a staircase, then walk or ride a bus to and from the actual terminal building. Budapest airport uses stairs too. Munich had the only jetway I saw. And if you try to use an American cell phone, in Europe, to call a European number (yes, I authorized the global phone function), you still have to dial 011 first, just as if you were back home. Fortunately I did get through to the limo company that was supposed to pick us up, and the driver was right there when we got our baggage.
Lufthansa has wonderful airline snacks. No half-ounce bags of pretzels here. On the Lufthansa leg to Amsterdam, the hostess handed me a big soft bread stick about 8" long – I'd have called it a baguette if it had a hard crust. And when I bit into it, in my first taste of German cuisine, I got – a mouthful of butter! The thing was baked with little pats of butter stuffed throughout. I was starving and it was fabulous; I asked for and got another one!