27 December - Two Hour Fix

There was quite a bit of noise at 05:00 - someone must’ve had an early flight.  Our alarm went off at 05:30, but we were already awake.  Our taxi was there at 06:15, and we’d confirmed with the front desk the night before that our van would be big enough for 6 people plus baggage.  Heidi and Tom came down right at 06:25, our scheduled departure.  It was a quick and easy trip to the airport.  At the airport, everyone but us checked some bags, and it was a bit chaotic with people figuring out what they wanted to do.

The security line was fairly short.  After getting through security we followed the signs to the Star Alliance lounge.  Between Justin, Dewey, and Clarita we had enough status to get the other 3 people inside.  We’d visited the lounge only last year, as in 2018 and 2019 our flight was too early.  This year it was still early, but later than previous years.  The lounge, not surprisingly, was almost empty when we arrived.  We found a couple tables in the far corner and hung out to read, check the news, etc.  Outside there was a cool cloud formation that lit up when the sun came up.  The lounge slowly filled up, and we enjoyed some free food and drink.

Our gate was only a short walk from the lounge.  Our first plane, from Vienna to Munich, was a small one.  It was a 2x2 arrangement, and we were across the aisle from Dewey and Clarita, who were one row behind Tom and Heidi.  Since we’d all booked our flights separately, this was incredibly random.  We had a nice view of green hills and fields on the way to Munich.  We landed on time, and had a little over an hour before boarding.  There was a long(ish) line for passport control, but we saw that there was an automated line, and we knew from Abu Dhabi and Dubai that we could go through the automated line.

Heidi and Tom were well behind us, and apparently got in the longer line, so the two of us plus Dewey and Clarita went into the lounge in Munich, which was absolutely packed.  We all got pretzels, except for Crystal, who got a salad.  Justin took a Dramamine to help him sleep on the plane.  We boarded about 20 minutes late, and we had the middle and aisle seats of the middle 3 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.  After everyone was boarded and seated, the captain spoke over the intercom to say there was an issue with a warning light, and it would be a minimum 2 hour fix.  Given that period of time, we were surprised they didn’t have us disembark.  But then we considered the time and effort to get everyone off the plane, all the bags off the plane, all the supplies and people onto the new plane, and figured timing-wise it was probably a push.

But after an hour they did have us get off the plane after all.  Justin had just fallen asleep, and Crystal had to wake him up.  We got off the plane, got some water from the vending machine, and used the facilities.  Heidi got a gold star for helping a coworker that was by herself with her two toddlers.  At around 14:30 we boarded a new plane, this time via buses.  We had the same seats, obviously.  For a two-aisle plane, the overheads were much more full than we could ever remember.  On the plane, Justin watched Saving Private Ryan, Crystal watched video games.  There was a baby right in front of us, but it was actually fairly quiet.  Justin chatted with Tom in the back of the plane, maybe 2/3 of the way through the flight.

Back in San Diego, disembarking was easy.  Since we had no checked bags, and we had Global Entry, we got out of the airport way earlier than the rest of the group, and we just got a taxi back home.  The dogs were extremely happy to see us.  We had already gotten situated, and Justin was already in bed, by the time Heidi and Tom showed up to grab their dogs, which had been at our place with the dogsitter for the past couple weeks.  Despite having an extra-long trip home, and despite trying to keep 4-6 people entertained and happy on the trip, we had a good time, and look forward to doing it again (albeit hopefully starting from Europe rather than the US) next December.

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