Wednesday, December 12, 2012

China via Paris

I am in China on a tour of 6 universities with a mini-deligation of my colleagues. We are promoting and  nurturing research collaboration as well as exchange student agreements with these universities and I was selected to represent my sub-field. Or that is, I was available to go to China for 12 days because I negotiated myself out of teaching a course. At first I had crazy plans to bring Zoe but with flying each evening and sleeping in a new hotel each night, such rock-star life style is not fit for a two and a half year old. She was left in the capable hands of her dad and they seem to have a grand time playing in the Stockholm snow when she is not in daycare.

I had particularly been looking forward to my plane ride from Paris (where I was at a committee meeting) that would fly me on Lufthansa's new Airbus 380. If you do not know what I am talking don't bother, if you do, you have perhaps a vague idea of just how excited I was. But as plans go, well, they don't always go the way you plan. I was well on time for my Paris to Frankfurt flight when I entered Charles de Gaulle airport a couple of days ago, only to see the big fat red "cancelled" sign next to my small first flight. Already then, I knew I was not going on a 380 anyway. I was then instructed to line up by the service desk to get rerouted. Except the line already had about 50 people in it. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. And asked the French woman who was on her way to Istanbul if she could look after my suitcase while I went to get a sandwich, came back and waited some more until I had waited, standing up for 5 hours. Finally, I reached the counter and the flustered, overtired (remember, she had been dealing with nasty passengers for over 5 hours) blond woman said "I can give you the direct Air China to Beijing in 2 hours. Last seat". I counted my luck and didn't ask to get upgraded. 

So I flew the worst seat ever on my most despised airline ever, but I got to Beijing, only 4 hours later than I had planned. And the best part, the thing I kept thinking, for all those 5 hours was how lucky I was, not to have Zoe with me. That was indeed very lucky.

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