I knew it was going to be a long day when after three hours of waiting at the airport in Dubai, not a single representative from the airline I was flying with was at the gate at 5:45 a.m.… My flight was scheduled to leave at 5:45 a.m.
At the time, I completely understood why we couldn’t take off. There was a thick, eerie fog covering the entire city that looked like someone on the set of a horror movie got a little too excited and went overboard with the dry ice machine. Driving to the airport was a mission since my friend could only see a few feet in front of her, so I could only imagine trying to pilot a plane. I wasn’t expecting to leave, but still, I just wanted some information so I could feel like I wasn’t being abandoned in Dubai when I had a connecting to flight to catch from Istanbul to Berlin.
Two hours later someone finally showed up and told us to go to another gate because our flight would be leaving “soon.” I was relieved, but the feeling was short lived. For another four hours, my fellow passengers and I were shuffled from gate to gate always with the promise that our flight was leaving “soon.”
The misinformation coming from the airline reps brought people to the brink of insanity, and when we were finally able to start boarding a plane, the people with connecting flights to Copenhagen were notified that they would have to wait THREE DAYS in Istanbul before they would be flown out to their final destination.
People. Flipped. Out. (I mean, can you blame them?)
The mutiny and near murder of the airline reps that ensued resulted in yet another delay, this time for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I sincerely started to think I was going to either die in that airport or have to move to Dubai.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, how the hell could all this incompetency restore anyone’s faith in humanity?! Well, it didn’t. If anything, it made my unwavering faith quiver just a little bit. What restored—or in my case confirmed—my faith in humanity was the generosity of Maelle, a young French woman who stopped the longest travel day of my life from turning into an even bigger debacle.
I met Maelle right before we started boarding the plane that eventually left at 2:30 p.m. (almost nine hours delayed and long after the fog had disappeared). We had a brief conversation in which I found out that she was on the same flight as me to Berlin and little else. We went our separate ways as we got to our seats but saw each other again as we went through passport control and security at the airport in Istanbul.
I honestly can’t tell you what we spoke about, but what I do remember is telling her my plan to fight with the airline to put me up in a hotel for the night if our new flight to Berlin was set to arrive too late. I didn’t want to be alone late at night trying to navigate a new city in a country where I didn’t speak the language. Thanks, but no thanks.
I approached the ticket counter feeling ready to plead my case for a night in Istanbul, and when I saw my new boarding pass, my inner lawyer started its work. They wanted me to wait another six hours for a flight that would arrive in Berlin at 3:00 a.m.… Nope. Not happening.
I played all the cards in my deck arguing with the ticket agent, but since I was dealing with the worst airline on the planet, all I got was the run around. The ticket agent told me to go aaaaall the way to the front of the airport to speak with costumer service so “maybe” they could help me, but I just couldn’t trust anything I was being told. I was clearly trying to negotiate with supremely incompetent people working for an airline that didn’t understand the first thing about customer service.
I took a step back to breathe for a second before my head exploded, and as I geared myself for round two of the fight, I heard Maelle’s voice coming from behind me.
“You can stay at my house tonight if you want,” she said. I turned around with a look of disbelief on my face. “Seriously?” I answered in obvious shock that someone I barely knew would offer their home to me. “Yea it’s not a problem,” she laughed, “You can stay at my house and go to your hostel tomorrow.”
I could tell I was getting nowhere with the heartless jackass at the ticket counter so I took my boarding pass, gave him the dirtiest look that my face is capable of making and accepted Maelle’s offer, thanking her nonstop.
As we walked through the airport looking for a place to settle in for our six-hour wait she told me more about herself and her apartment… “I don’t have a living room so you’ll have to share the bed with me. I hope you don’t mind,” she said.
Am I a weird person for being more concerned about her lack of a living room than the fact that I had to share a bed with her? Whatever. Either way, I did not have a problem with it. I was just happy to have a place to sleep that night, and my instincts told me I could trust her.
So we snuck into the priority lounge of the stupid airline we were flying with, enjoyed their free food and drinks, slept for a few hours, hopped on our almost three-hour flight to Berlin, took a taxi to her house, got ready for bed, and then cuddled all night.
No, I’m joking. We didn’t actually cuddle, but I learned that her living room was converted into a third bedroom so that’s why she didn’t have a couch for me to crash on. I honestly didn’t care. By that time, we knew each other a little better, and it actually was not as awkward as some people are probably imagining it to be.
The next day, Maelle woke up early to go to work. Before she left, she woke me up to say goodbye and tell me that I could stay as long as I wanted and eat whatever I could find in the kitchen. She truly was an amazing host. Even her roommates, who I met later while getting ready to leave the place, didn’t find it so strange that a random American girl had slept over. They were as kind to me as Maelle was.
Unfortunately, after that day Maelle was too busy with her new job to hangout with me while I was in Berlin. Even though I didn’t get to see her again and probably never will, I will always remember how she helped me that night and confirmed my faith in humanity.
So, morals of the story:
- NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE fly with Pegasus Airlines. Seriously, just don’t do it.
- Human beings can be pretty awesome and help each other out in a time of need.