I have rarely wanted Ruby Slippers more than on this day. Three clicks and home sounds just perfect. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the day unfolded.

Vlad and I got up bright and early (6am) and took the shuttle to Malpensa Airport for our 10:30 flights. That’s when the Travel Gods decided to throw their best curveball.   Just as my flight to NY was about to board, they announced the pilot had not been able to get a flight plan approved due to the new ash cloud hovering over Spain, and we would be delayed 15 minutes or so while that is completed. Vlad’s flight to Heathrow took off on time, and there I was – standing at the gate with a feeling that it wasn’t going to be that easy.  How right I was!

15 minutes ended up stretching into 4 hours. No approved flight plan. I had a feeling we weren’t going to be leaving that day.  When we received definite word of cancellation, I immediately started working to rebook on another flight the next day. Unfortunately, I’ve been through this before, and know the drill.

The American Airlines staff (all two of them!) were incredibly helpful and so very nice under the enormous pressure they were under. They re-booked me and two gentlemen also flying business class  on the Lufthansa flight to San Francisco leaving the next morning from Frankfurt, and a flight from Milan to Frankfurt tonight.

The two gentlemen had no problem – they were first in line and got their vouchers right away.  When I got to Lufthansa’s ticket counter I found my ticket was all messed up.  I’d been  inadvertently booked on a flight through Heathrow. Cursing the Travel Gods, I pulled out the card the service manager gave me  and called her from my mobile. She came running over and started speaking with the Lufthansa person in rapid-fire Italian that I couldn’t follow.  It took quite some time to fix the issue, and while that went on, all the available seats were booked on the Lufthansa flight. I was about to break down and cry right there. Hey it was excusable.  I had had only a few hours of sleep the night before,  my husband was on his way home, and I was stuck in Milan all by myself with a suitcase full of dirty clothes.  And tomorrow was Mother’s Day.  Who wouldn’t tear up just a bit?

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but my day was about to get a whole lot better.

The American Airlines service manager felt so bad about the mess up (she had accidentally canceled me from the Lufthansa flight when doing the bookings) that she put me on a United flight leaving Frankfurt the next day –  in first class.

As I was walking through the airport to the lounge and a desperately needed glass of good German beer, I saw bunches of people from the canceled flight standing around cell phones trying to rebook and find places to stay tonight. I felt a bit guilty that I had a potential way home and they didn’t, but in cases like this, it’s every woman for herself.

After an uneventful flight from Milan (where my eardrums held up quite nicely, thank you) I was soon sitting in the hotel in Frankfurt, my newly washed shirt drip drying in the shower, and catching up on my blogs and email.

It’s been a crazy trip.  Where are those Ruby Slippers?  There’s no place like home…