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Wednesday, July 5, 2023: Are We Crazy!?!?

We are headed to Helsinki, Finland. We will be there for about one week before joining a Road Scholar tour of the Baltic countries which are Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

This trip will be our first time with this tour company. I am excited for the expertise and educational lectures especially since I don’t know much about this area of the world. However, I am apprehensive about the makeup of the group and potentially the slow pace.

Road Scholar used to be called Elderhostel. The founders believed in lifelong learning and that age should not prevent you from traveling. It started as a summer school for retired people as a response to society and personal feelings about ageism. They changed the name to Road Scholar in an effort to appeal to Baby Boomers. And since we are baby boomers … I guess that it worked.

With all of the flight delays and cancelations that are occurring in the USA and the fact that we have had delays and cancelations with our recent flights with American, Rob started investigating our flights on flightaware.com. He was concerned, especially after learning that our 7:00pm flight from Norfolk to New York JFK is often canceled. Of the last 12 flights, seven have been canceled!! Yikes.

Rob researched the route and there were three earlier flights on our airline to JFK airport that day. We decided to go early with carryon bags and try to get on one of those. (The 7pm flight was canceled the night before so they were likely booking today.)

We were given the #1 & #2 standby spots for the 9:45am flight. I was offered to check my bag all the way to Helsinki. Yes, please! Even if things get fouled up, my bag will be waiting for me in Helsinki. I asked the agent what she would do … and she said to check it. Rob opted to continue to carry his bag.

Our flight was uneventful. We arrived at 11am and our flight to Finland was scheduled to leave 12 hours later. We were facing a long day at JFK airport. I knew that this would be the case, but I have a Priority Pass and we can rest at one of their lounges. I have to show my Priority Pass card AND a boarding pass. However, because of standby, we don’t have boarding passes for our Finland flight. Finnair opens at 5:00. So we have about 6 hours before we can enter TSA.

JFK is redoing some of its air trains so we had to take a bus to a different terminal. We jumped off the bus upon arrival. Rob realized that he left his bag on the bus as it drove off. “Should have checked it!” We notified the baggage handlers and they located it. 🎵 Reunited and it feels so good 🎵

We sat on the cold floor waiting for Finnair to open. We were not alone. There were no chairs to sit on. I don’t know why and several foreigners asked us to explain. We don’t know. Rob sat on his suitcase for a while and then tried to lay down. I did a lot of crosswords.

Finally, we went through the TSA around 6pm and waited even more time for our 11pm flight. We are on our way. The flight will be 8 hours long.

Oh, by the way, the 7pm flight from Norfolk to JFK did not cancel this time, but we just couldn’t risk it!!

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