We’ve made it to Kentucky, somehow. Wednesday was the day from hell, even if we did make it home. It all started with the ride into Gatwick.
We had to be at the airport for 6am to check in, so we booked the cab for 4am which should have given us plenty of time to get to the airport, bearing in mind of course that Gatwick had had snow the day before so the roads might be slow going. The cab was late because the driver lost his keys–so he showed up about 4.30. Okay… fine. We got close to the airport and the bridge over the motorway was shut because of ice. The driver took a detour down this industrial looking alleyway with warehouses on either side and I swear I thought N and I were going to be on the news as having been slaughtered by a fake cabbie. I felt N tense up as well, so I know he was nervous. In the end though, we made it out to Gatwick with time to spare, thank goodness.
At check-in, before we got to the desk they checked our passports which is routine for Gatwick. They asked N if he’d filled out an ESTA form, which is a visa waiver thing that allows him into the USA. N said yes, not really knowing what the heck the girl meant. We got to the desk and the guy checked me in and took my luggage no problem. As the guy was checking N in, he asked again about the ESTA and then told us there wasn’t one associated with N’s name–and that he absolutely could not fly without one. We asked the guy if N could fill one out at the desk and he said no, that we’d have to go down a floor and pay to use an internet terminal and fill out the form online… and that the form could take up to 72 hours to be approved and that it cost about $15. So it was looking less and less like N was coming with me at that point.
We got downstairs and I paid 4 quid to use the internet. We googled the ESTA form and clicked on the first one which had been clicked on by others as it was highlighted. We assumed that was right. So N filled it out and I paid for it. When it got to the bit about payment, I filled in my card details. They wanted $59 which didn’t initially sound right until I remembered my visa cost $1,000 so it seemed comparable.
We went back upstairs to the same check in desk. Nothing had come through for Nick. The guy asked us how much we paid and I told him $59. He then told us that it really was only $14 or $15 and that we’d been had by a fraudulent website. So some site had my card details as well as N’s passport details. The guy gave us the actual web address so down we went again. We filled out the real form and went back upstairs to try again. This time it worked and we went through security with no problem.
Naturally I called my bank as soon as we were in the terminal and they flagged the transaction as fraudulent and set me up with identity theft protection. Now I have to call back in 2 weeks and follow up with the bank to make sure there haven’t been any problems. N’s mum has spoken with the UK Home Office and N has to follow up with them when we get back to the UK.
So we got to our gate and we sat there for ages because Delta had overbooked the flight and they were waiting for volunteers to give up their spaces on the plane for other people. Oh, and we had to wait for the plane to be refueled and cleaned because it had come in late. We finally boarded and then sat on the plane for an hour. The whole time I was freaking out because we only had a 2 hour layover in Atlanta and had to go through passport control and customs once we got there.
The flight was a long one–10 hours of sheer boredom. N and I watched “Cyrus” and I watched “The Other Guys” (which was hilarious) and I played a lot of the games they had on offer.
We finally landed… 45 minutes late. Passport control went smoothly–now that N and I are married we can go through the same line even though we have different passports, which is fantastic! We then had to pick up our luggage, go through customs, drop off our luggage and go through another security checkpoint. Security took a billion hours… and our plane had opened for boarding. Then we got stopped at the checkpoint because N had left a bottle of water in his bag. I was beyond frustrated.
Thank goodness I was wearing my trainers and not my flats or boots because after security it was time to run like hell. And we did… nearly a mile from security to our terminal and gate. I was gasping like a fish out of water and sweatin’ like a piggy! We got to our gate as the line to get on the plane was reaching its end.
We were absolutely beyond lucky to make it–and I’m completely shocked we’re here despite everything that happened.
And now it’s Christmas Eve! Whoo!
From me to you all–have a lovely and Happy Christmas!