Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ryan Air - a hated airline with a loving story

My concerns for the Ryanair flight were well-justified. So I couldn’t sleep much the night before but I got my luggage whittle down to just about nothing. I finally decided on a “Por Donacion” sign for the clothes and toiletries I left in my cabinet. I love the train to the airport in Madrid - everything went well and Friedricke and I found out that I actually had tons of extra time because I read my flight time wrong (military time). We hung out at the airport for a while but I could check-in very early and Friederike ended up having to go through security. However, when Friedrike had checked in with Lufthansa, I popped my bags up on a scale and was both astonished and proud of myself for one large bag being 13.5kg and the other 12kg - I was only allowed (or so I thought at the time 13kg for each bag). All of my books and heavy belongings were in my carry on and I had on 7 shirts, a sweater, 2 pairs of pants and two coats. After saying goodbye to Friederike, I asked a British couple whether or not the airline had opened the line for the London flight. They said no and we got to chatting and I told them my story of having to leave many of my clothes behind because of the weight quota. They then mentioned that it was even trickier than I though because what the rules in the very fine print say that each person gets 15kg - no matter how many bags you have. Not to mention that each 1kg over that weight was about a $26 when converted. As my eyes grew wide and I choked back a tear, they encouraged me to double check with the irritable check-in attendants. Then it happened, teary eyed, I approached the desk and they confirmed. A kind young clerk encouraged me to put anything I could in my carry on but that I was 10kg over (or about $260 of possible fines. I went back to John and Sue (the British couple) and my head was spinning but I knew God had to have something up his sleeve. Then, (and way before then), the God I was expecting appeared. They offered to take as much as they could possibly fit in their own luggage - checked and carry-on. We dwindled my luggage to only 5kg over and the clerk forced me to weight my 11.5kg (I was allowed 10kg) carry-on as well. The clerk told me if he was allowed to check me in he would only count it as 1 or 2 over, but he didn’t think he would be the one to check me in.

I knew deep down inside that God was directly in this situation - I ran into this couple who were perfect strangers to me and yet they were so willing to help. Sue had shared with me that her daughter had almost run into the same situation the first time she flew this company as well. Then the London line for check-in opened. As we stood there in the line, the manager - an intense and bossy blonde - hovered over the check-in clerks and charged people right and left for fractions over the allotted weight. I felt helpless, but prayed and still knew that God was so completely in this. He wanted to show me something in this and I needed to learn something. I thought to myself about how it is ultimately God’s money not mine. As those thoughts floated through my heat, the blonde manager walked away from the line I was in,. The younger guy who initially checked my luggage weight walked over and was quite friendly with the girl who was ultimately responsible for Sue, John, and my check in. I took my chance and walked up to the guy and asked if he would tell her of his promise to me. Ass my turn undoubted came I, I walked up to the young woman who was not to far from my own age and she looked at me and said “Put your bags back here”. I never had to weigh them! We looked at each other and I assured her of my thanks with one grateful looked. I walked away with a subtle smile and rejoiced with my new British companions. As we walked to get something to renew ourselves from the stress, they asked me where my final destination was. I told them Gatwick, and they proceeded to tell me that they had their car waiting at the airport and that was on their way home - all the way across London - something that would have cost quite a lot for me to find public transportation! John slipped away and came back with our reward - refusing my payment he had bought coffee and chocolate pastries for us all.

As we settled in to our seats on the plane, we felt as though we had conquered the world and my level of gratefulness was (and still is ) unspeakable and inexpressible. These were truly Good Samaritans. They drove me all the way to meet Susie and Ian (my final London destination). It was amazing to see how God had taken care of every detail.