Monday, December 3, 2007

Locked Down in Israel

My last race wasn’t all that I hoped for…in fact it was a big disappointment in my book. The biggest downer is that my running improvements that I have worked so hard to achieve in my training were not reflected in the run. I exited transition strong and got out to a great start but faded fast. I was passed by almost 30 people on the run falling from 5th place to 35th. Mentally watching that many girls blow by me was difficult since my wasted legs had no response. I am not sure if I biked too hard pulling for to much of the 40K course or if the fighting on the first portion of the swim had any effect. Regardless of the cause, my run was four minutes off where it needs to be next year. I have a lot to work on in the off-season and look forward to getting my running form back on track.
Israel takes its security to a different level imagine having all your bags unpacked in front of you. I am not exaggerating my carry-on, checked bag, and bike were unpacked completely. Every item was removed as they x-rays and swabbed each and every item. My items were splayed and dumped bike and wheels riped from the case to be x-rayed separately….. But on top of this psychical examination, you are also grilled verbally about your trip details the whys wheres and asked the same question in 3 different ways to try to catch you in a slip. It is this intense interrogation and invasion that makes the US airport security a breeze in comparison. We went through security within Israel 3 times, and it was intense every time. It is normal to spend an hour or more being cleared through security before you can even get in line for your boarding pass.
On Sunday after the race, Jillian and I miscalculated and were short on time; we only arrived to check in 1 hour and 45 minutes before our International departure. As our bags were unpacked and prodded and analyzed by 8 security agents, we were stressed about making our flight. The delta manager came over to say we were tight on time, and it wouldn't be their fault if we missed the flight. After an hour and 5 minutes, we were repacked and cleared to finish checking in. As we arrived at the counter with 45 minutes to spare, we were treated to the Delta manager telling us that we could board the plane only if we both had $100 in cash to pay for our bikes. Most airlines don't assess this fee on international flights especially since our bikes were well under the weight restrictions, at 36 lbs for mine. We scrambled for cash but could only come up with just over $30 each. Jillian and I offered her travelers checks or credit cards or to sprint to the atm. I am not ashamed to say that we begged her to please have some pity on us, and please let us on the flight. Coldly, the Delta manager ignored us and walked away...not even offering to help us get re-booked on the next day's flight or any advice on how we should get home from Tel Aviv. It was 10:50pm, and we still had 40 minutes until our flight was due to take off. The Delta desk was unmanned and would not have any agent there until the next night at 8pm.
We tracked down the Delta number in the states, and with the help of moms working on the problem from US phones were able to get re-booked on a flight 12 hours later at 10:40 am the next morning.
I understand that we were at fault but the Delta manager’s complete lack of compassion for our situation and unwillingness to assist in any way was downright evil. . Yes we should have arrived sooner, but the lack of empathy to assist us when we had time to still make the plane was appalling.
After spending 20 hours in the Tel Aviv airport, we were so slap happy and silly that everything was amusing. Since the Thursday night before the race until Sunday night, I had a total of 12 hours sleep. Not enough considering that I normally get 8 to 10 hours a night. Finally, we got on the flight headed home. Sadly for me, we arrived at JFK late. After clearing passport control, waiting for my bike and bag to arrive, and clearing customs, it was already past the take-off time for my scheduled flight. I was re-booked for the next morning to arrive home at 11am the next day and given a hotel room for the night - yay finally a chance to shower! Sadly, the luck didn't last; I was called later that night by Delta to let me know that the flight I was rescheduled on the next morning was cancelled. Now, I would leave in the morning and fly to Atlanta then fly to Denver arriving at 4pm. Wow, this is turning into the never-ending trip: I left Eilat at 12pm on Sunday or 3am Sunday morning MST. When I get home tomorrow afternoon, I will have been traveling for 62 or more hours.....

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Hey MB!

I googled you to try to find your address for a Christmas card and found your cool blog! Sorry to hear that Delta was such a nightmare - reminds me of my trip to Poland. So...when are you coming home to Delaware? Can't wait to see you and show off my preggo belly!