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Why Only Crazy People Book International Flights With Two Different Airlines: An Autobiography

This is the only photo I took during the ordeal because I was too stressed to bless [you with more photos].

Circle 'round children, and I shall tell you a story of my own stupidity. It's a cautionary tale of a lesson learned the hard way, and the subsequent loss of the last remnant of my sanity.

In June, I flew from Madrid to New York on American Airlines, and in order to save a buck, I flew on Delta from New York to Arkansas. I booked my return trip to Madrid, Spain in September the same way. What could go wrong, said I? Oh Kate, you naive, little cherub.

On Saturday morning, I arrived at the Little Rock Airport in plenty of time for my 11:15 am Delta flight that would take me to Atlanta and then on to New York where I would switch over to American/Iberia Airlines for my flight to Madrid. Shortly after arriving at my gate in Little Rock, the flight crew announced that the plane needed some maintenance work but it shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes. Two hours later, I was still in Little Rock. I spent those two hours on the phone with Delta, slowly losing my will to live and trying to get re-routed. I was definitely missing my connecting flight in Atlanta, which would subsequently make me miss my flight to Madrid on the other airline. Fun fact, if an airline causes you to miss connecting flights with other airlines, they will give you a solid, "That's not my problem." I even had to get stern with them. Stern Kate over the phone always consists of, "I know this isn't your fault specifically, and this isn't personal, but I am extremely disappointed right now." And I'm always left wondering why my problem wasn't resolved, and why I never get free stuff. However, this time I got $400 worth of flight vouchers from Delta. It's the little things.

After all the phone shenanigans were finished with Delta and American, we finally worked out a new plan. I'd go back home that night, fly out of Little Rock at 6 am the next morning, have a layover in Atlanta, and end up in New York with 4 hours to spare for my American/Iberia flight that I switched for the next day. I also upgraded myself to premium economy on my Madrid flight because treat yo' self. The only drawback was that my checked bag was already on its way to New York, so I'd need to get it from customer service and re-check it when I got there the next day. My poor mother had to come back to the airport, pick me up, listen to me babble incoherently because my brain no longer worked, and then get up at 4:00 am the next morning to take me back to the airport. I don't deserve her, and I never will.

On Sunday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 3:15 am and was blessed enough to have smooth flights all the way to JFK. That's where the real work began. I had four objectives:

1. Get my checked bag that had arrived in New York yesterday from the Delta counter.

2. Grab my other carry-on from the baggage carousel since Delta decided they needed me to check it from Atlanta.

3. Go to the Iberia counter and re-check my bag for the Madrid flight.

4. Do all of this in my four-hour window before boarding my Madrid flight.

If life were always kind, good, and precious, I would have arrived in JFK's Terminal 4, gotten my bags from JFK's Terminal 4, and flown out of JFK's Terminal 4. But we should all know by now that life is not always kind, good, and precious. Sometimes life is a stinky, fuzzy llama that kicks you in the knees and spits on you. After successfully retrieving my carry-on, I arrived at Delta's baggage claim desk in Terminal 4 only to find out that my big checked bag was in Terminal 2. The transit to Terminal 2 drops you off on the side of the road, forcing you to walk on a sidewalk for about 5 minutes, and cross several streets where people are driving out of the airport like bats out of hell. I arrived at the Delta counter with sweat dripping down my back, hair sticking to my temples, and laughing hysterically because it seemed to be a better choice than crying at the time. I gratefully took my bag from the Delta agent, and with a heart full of hope, asked her if the Iberia check-in was in Terminal 2. Of course, Iberia's check-in isn't in Terminal 2. It's in Terminal 7. So I grabbed both of my heavy rolling bags and returned the way I came, dodging wild cars and potholes, adding to my already-impressive layer of sweat. Once in Terminal 7, I wandered aimlessly, searching for the Iberia counter before I finally humbled myself and asked someone for directions. He very kindly told me that the Iberia counter was allllll the waaayyyy on the other side of the terminal. At this point, I had gotten the hysteria under control, and had become a hyper-focused machine mindlessly chanting, "NOT TODAY SATAN! NOT TODAY, YOU MINIONS OF DARKNESS LURKING IN THIS AIRPORT. I AM GOING TO SPAIN." I made the trek to the Iberia counter, got my bag dropped off, and then marched through security. It wouldn't be a Kate airport story if it didn't feature at least one TSA pat-down which was necessary due to the probability that my profuse sweating likely caused the sensors to light up as if I was the human embodiment of yellow cake uranium.

Lesson learned, folks, but now I can share it with you so you don't become a hysterically-laughing, sleep-deprived sweatball like me. You can't ride two horses with one arse, and you shouldn't book an international trip with two airlines.


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