Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aloha!

I'm back, after a short vacation in Hawai'i. I'm still trying to absorb the 12 hours jetleg.
I'll try to describe the beautiful holidays in the next posts, but first let's start with the bad things.

Milan Linate Airport, check-in.
Do you have the ESTA? Miss Antipathy with the British Airways symbol pinned to her jacket asks.
What the hell is an ESTA? you would ask.
What the hell is an ESTA? I ask Miss Antipathy with the British Airways pinned on her jacket.
The ESTA is a kind of entry visa for the United States, to be filled online prior to departure. I will find out later that these are the same questions that once had to be filled out on a paper form on board the aircraft, such as "are you a terrorist?", "are you carrying any explosive?", "Have you ever had to deal with episodes of delinquency? "," do you have any pending with justice? ", in short, some rhetorical questions that require a negative answers (I don't think a terrorist or a criminal has any ethical problem about the sincerity in his answers).
No, I do not have the ESTA.
So, you can not leave.
Panic.
How do you make that ESTA?
You go to http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ and stuffed the form with all these data. Total time about one minute. Then instantly you are allowed to enter the U.S.
Piece of cake.
Yes, if only you have an Internet access, of course, otherwise where can I write the address http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/? On a postcard?
Now, you say, it is a breeze to find an internet connection within an airport!
At Linate it is not. There is a coin-operated Internet Point, but it does not work. Maybe there is a free WiFi access i can reach with my PDA. There is not. I wonder if the CheckIn desks have internet connection, i scrap the idea: Miss Antipathy with the British Airways symbol be pinned on her jacket wouldn't be so much unpleasant not to help me!
Demoralized I decide to go to another lady (this time very nice!) at the British Airways ticket desk, to move my flight to the next day. The nice lady asks me if I can not connect to the Internet to fill that damn ESTA. Eh, no, unfortunately i can not from here. Not even at the tiket desk they have any internet connection. The only option looks to change the date. Six hundred euros and a day of holiday lost.

Okay, the day after we arrive at the airport and this time at the check in there is a man: Mr. Antipathy, with the British Airways symbol pinned on his jacket. He stares our passports. He watches the printing of the flight reservation. He looks at me, but I'm not going to be caught unawares. Yes, I have the ESTA. He checks dubious on his terminal (mmmh... they don't have an internet access, but they can check online if i have that damn ESTA!). At the end he can't do other than admit. He puts a sticky tape with a barcode on our luggage and gives us the boarding passes. Have a nice flight, he smiles. We're on vacation!
Twenty-six hours later we finally reach the destination airport in Lihue. Baggage Claim. There are bags and suitcases of every shape and color, but not one black and orange sport bag. The luggage was lost somewhere in the world.
We go to the baggage office, Sorry, we'll deliver your baggage tomorrow. That makes you wonder where is all that safety program. You have to go through at least a couple of hand baggage and personal screening (remove shoes, belts, watches and pass in a magic door) for each airport. You also have to re-check baggage (ours was already lost in LosAngeles): even if the luggage is aimed at final destination, you must recognize it and take responsibility for its content. Every now and then a metallic voice recommends not to leave any baggage unattended, or it will be instantaneously destroyed.
Nevertheless at the end you are in one place and your luggage in another, thousands and thousands miles away. So much for safety!

The bag then will arrive three days after us (of course we go to WalMart to buy the bare necessities). But that won't ruin our holiday. It's a warm tropical night, the air is moist and spicy and a soft ukulele music sounds in our ears.
Aloha!

3 comments:

jonzie said...

I cannot believe you had to wait an extra day!
it did put a smile on my face tough :)

Rowena... said...

Don't forget that the suitcase was left behind in the first place! It was a sign I tell you! We were not meant to get on that plane on Saturday, and it was 600€ for peace of MY mind. heehee

tychecat said...

Hi Dario -welcome to the post 9/11 US. that's why we no longer fly.
Fortunately we have lots of free time to drive - Florida to Maine in four days instead of five hours - but whose counting.

I'd be interested in your comments on Italy's/ Europe's/World's /political-economic mess.