Stuck in Paris

Trip Start Sep 06, 2015
Trip End Oct 14, 2015

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What I did
The inside of an airport

Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Monday, September 7, 2015

Another pastoral trip to Africa has begun. This one should last five and half weeks, although five days of it will be personal time. My itinerary should take me to Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Cameroon, the DRC, and Rwanda before I fly on to France for the Feast of Tabernacles. After the Feast I plan to take a few days with my daughters in Istanbul and then take care of a few more tasks in France before heading home.

Yesterday my wife and I drove to the airport leaving home at 12:30 so that I could catch a 3:15 flight to Detroit. As I was checking in, the agent went through my itinerary and asked me "so you destination today in Ivory Coast?" to which I said yes. A man checking at the next counter overheard and asked me where the Ivory Coast was. When I said a coastal country in West Africa, he said “that must be quite an interesting place!” I replied with a smile “if you only knew.” He laughed and looked at my suitcase, a battered aluminum hard-side with all sorts of stickers on in from baggage tags, security checks (some countries put a sticker on your suitcase when you clear security), hotels, and such. “You must need a strong suitcase for that kind of travel” he said, and I agreed that worked best. I once had a soft-side suitcase that was destroyed on its very first trip through Africa.

Because of my frequent flyer status, I’m automatically on the list for a free upgrade to business class. But also because of my frequent flyer status, I’m rarely if ever high enough on the pecking order to actually receive an upgrade. If there are two seats available, I’ll be number six on the list.

Yesterday, I noticed that I was number four on the list, with one free seat available. Close but not enough. But then the flight was delayed. A tire needed to be inspected. Several people in business class were in too much of a hurry to wait, and rebooked on other flights. So at the last moment, three more seats came available and I got my first free upgrade in recent memory. With the little Embraer planes that really only means a more spacious seat, some chips, and a free drink, but for those who fly much even such little perks are much appreciated. It’s the principle of the thing.

On arrival in Detroit I had just enough time to walk to the Air France gate where the flight to Paris would leave. I’ve been on this flight a number of times, and I’m always struck by the passengers who are always half to two-thirds Middle Eastern. Many women are in headscarves; and many families are speaking Arabic. One could easily be in Jordan, Egypt, or Morocco.

The flight left on time, at 9:30 pm; it took us six and a half hours to reach Paris. With a six hour time zone change from Detroit, that had us arriving at 11:30 this morning. There was a long line at security, so I was thankful to be able to use the shorter line reserved for frequent flyers. As I checked the status of my 1:50 pm flight to Abidjan, I was not happy to a long flight delay. The flight was not expected to leave before 7:00 pm which would mean arriving in Abidjan around midnight. That’s safe enough in Abidjan, but would make for a very short night before a long road trip. Now I’m waiting in the Air France lounge to see what will happen with the flight.
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mary on

Hi Joel,
Happy that your posts are coming through. We look forward to following along with your blog entries and will keep you in our prayers.

Kathy Treybig on

So glad you were able to get a rare upgrade. I get excited just to have a random TSA-precheck. Looking forward to following along on this trip...

Karen Collins on

So sorry you are stuck at the airport. However, I love reading your blogs and sharing your travel with us.

Jill Clouthier on

May God bless your trip and keep you safe and healthy.

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