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Athens Riviera

Day 2 dawned bright and beautiful in DFW. There weren’t any thunderstorms brewing either at home or in Houston which we took to be a good sign.

With nervous anticipation, we took a Uber ride to the airport. As we checked in for the flight, the computer spit out a boarding pass for Houston instead of all the way through to Athens. Once again, Mr. JJ stood in line while I called Turkish. The rep at the other end told me he saw four tickets but no itinerary and blamed it on United. He asked me to talk to them to set it right. Two ladies from the United desk worked on the itinerary and eventually they were able to give us baggage claim tickets that read Houston to Athens via Istanbul. We had boarding tickets for the first leg only and had to pick up the rest at the gate at Houston.

There was a sense of uneasiness as we waited to board our flight. As Missy JJ put it, at least this time we would make it to Houston and back. That would be progress, indeed!

With an uneventful flight to Houston, we went to the gate seeking an agent. We were four hours ahead of time. Since we were hungry and thirsty, we first stopped at the KLM lounge to satisfy our hunger and thirst. Meanwhile, Mr. JJ kept checking the online check-in page for Turkish Airlines. It showed error twice and couldn’t retrieve our reservation. He then called them and was told that our reservation had been cancelled.

It was now 45 mins later. Mr. JJ decided our best bet was to exit the secured area and head to the main ticketing counter where someone would be able to help us. There was a long line waiting to be checked in. I spied a group of three Turkish agents standing off to the side. I walked over and explained my situation. They listened quietly and said it shouldn’t be that hard to get the boarding passes printed.

One of them then passed me off to a gentleman at the “ticketing and reservations” counter called Eduardo. Now he is what I call a God-send!

His partner was able to pull up the reservation but only to Istanbul and no further. But Eduardo patiently kept researching and after many minutes told us he had located the booking all the way to Athens.

It took him about 50 minutes to locate and reprint boarding passes for both our flights. He contacted the baggage service department to locate our luggage and asked to redirect them to the correct flight.

By this time, the children were getting weary of waiting and not knowing. They had been in good spirits the previous day and all afternoon. But its hard not knowing if one is spending the next few days at the Parthenon or a repeat of Moody gardens and Galveston beach.

Luckily for them, Eduardo finally presented the tickets to us with a flourish. We thanked him profusely and headed towards security. It was possible our luggage might not make it on time, but we were prepared with two days’ worth in our hand luggage. And if they couldn’t serve a vegetarian meal on board, so be it. We would eat a good dinner and manage with what snacks we had on hand. 31 hours after originally setting out, at least we knew we were headed to Athens! What bliss!

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Athens Riviera

After a good dinner at Hugo’s, we boarded our flights and settled in. We had a 12 hour flight ahead of us. Dinner was served about 2.5 hours later, enough time to take in a movie. The vegetarian option included creamy pasta but no one ate except me. The children were too worn out to care. Even the crying babies couldn’t stop us from drifting off to some much-needed sleep.

We encountered an interesting mix of gate agents on our way to Greece. Some were just doing their job, some were rude, some polite but not willing to go further.

And then we met two agents who went above and beyond what they needed to do. They were polite, willing to listen, willing to invest just a bit more time in helping out their customers. Without their help, mileage tickets or not, we wouldn’t have gotten to Athens. Its people like them that make travel worthwhile, that make us believe in humanity, time and again.

For my part, I have learnt that patience, flexibility and perseverance with a bit of good fortune goes a long way. As a family, we are immensely fortunate to pursue our passion for traveling. And we don’t take that for granted, even for a second.