Our European tour came to an end, and it was time to start our Asian Adventure! We left our great Stockholm hostel and boarded our shuttle to the airport. The shuttle was a comfy one - one of those fancy charter buses with a second door in the middle. Jake watched videos on his phone as I napped (surprise surprise) on the 45 minute drive to the airport. When we arrived, we had no idea what terminal Norwegian was in, so Jake popped up at the first stop and asked the bus driver. Good thing, because that was our stop! We hurriedly grabbed our bags so as not to hold up other passengers trying to disembark, and went to drop my backpack off at the self-check bag drop. We were all set - bag checked in, snacks at the ready, computers fully charged…."Do you have my phone?" Jake asked me. No, I didn't have his phone. And it wasn’t in his pockets, or his bags, or on the computer where we printed out my checked bag sticker. Jake, being a quick thinker, opened up the Find my Iphone app on my phone - and there was his, an icon of an iPhone, driving down the highway back toward Stockholm. In our hurry to get off the bus, he left it on the ledge in front of our seats.
Well shoot - that phone was actually pretty important. We have lots of useful apps that we've been using to navigate without a data plan, a GPS tracker that shows us where we've been and syncs up with pictures we've taken, our itineraries stored in the cloud on One Note that are more easily accessible on his phone than mine (it's faster), not to mention all of the podcasts that we listen to all the time, and news and tech videos that he watches when there is lots of down time (and if you know us, you know we LOVE our podcasts). Losing it was going to be extremely inconvenient.
We ran out to the curb where the same bus company does pick-ups and explained what happened to the agent working there. It was 12:45, our flight was at 2:40. Elin, the agent, called the bus driver and explained that we could see the phone was on the bus, and asked what time his bus was due back. He was supposed to return to the airport between 2 and 2:20. There was a tiny possibility that we would be able to retrieve it before taking off for Bangkok. We asked the driver to bring it back with him and we would do everything we could to get out to the curb to get the phone before take-off. And so began our time trial - we needed to see how much time it would take to go through security and passport control, and get all the way to our gate. Waiting in lines for it all took about 35 minutes (pretty amazing, under normal circumstances), but that wasn't going to cut it. If Jake was going to make it from the curb to the gate, he was going to have to cut the lines. That would be no problem for regular security, everyone was really nice and accommodating, but we were a bit worried about the more strict passport control guys. As we approached the stern looking passport control agent, we weren't sure our plan of cutting the line was going to fly. "You've been in Europe since April?" he asked. Well, actually since March, but I didn't correct him. "What have you been doing all this time?" "Traveling! Eating great food and drinking delicious beer!" "And now you go to Bangkok? What job do you have for this much vacation? I want to come!" and he cracked a smile and chuckled. Phew! He's not as stern as we thought! After some jokes we explained the problem and asked if it would be possible for Jake to cut the line in order to get through passport control quickly and make it onto the flight. "Yes, just come to me, it's no problem." Ok! The plan was set! Jake would head out to the curb just before 2, wait for the bus to arrive with his phone, and haul ass back to the gate.
We talked to multiple gate agents and explained the plan. And at 1:50, Jake went off to get his phone. I boarded the flight with his stuff and mine (probably to the dismay of other passengers who thought I was bringing on four of my own carry-ons), got settled in our seats, and clutched the four leaf clover necklace that Beth gave me - boy did we need some serious luck! I explained the whole situation to several flight attendants who reassured me that the plane would not leave without my husband (I don't think I would have liked to land in Bangkok without him!). With their promise to wait for him, I tried to relax in my seat, but kept checking the time. Twelve minutes before take-off Jake appeared, phone in hand! "Holy crap you got it!" I was totally shocked! I let the flight attendants know that he was back and the plane could leave as scheduled (I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty powerful being able to hold a whole plane!).
As we got comfy in our seats Jake told me what happened - turns out, he couldn’t leave the gate area! We were in an isolated gate area for international flights, and to get out you have to go through passport control upstairs. The only problem was that there hadn’t been any arrivals, so no one was working that station. He was stuck. Two of the gate agents we had spoken to before saw him and realized what was going on. "We'll see if we can just have it brought to you, it'll be faster." one of them said. She radioed down to security and explained the whole thing again, "He left his phone on the bus, it's arriving in 5 minutes. Can you send someone to retrieve it and bring it to gate 17?" Before too long, a security agent came strolling up to them with Jake's phone. Minutes later, he was sitting next to me on the plane.
We were both shocked that it actually made it back to us. No one stole it. Everyone we talked to did everything in their power to help. They even made it as easy as possible to retrieve and still make the flight. Thank you Stockholm Airport - you guys are amazing!
The flight itself was wonderfully uneventful. We had incredible seats on the Dreamliner - economy class but in one of the bulkheads, so no seats were in front of us. We could stretch out as much as we wanted, get up without bothering the aisle person whenever we wanted, I could have done yoga in our little spot if I wanted (I did use it to stretch just a little bit). It's the most comfortable I've been on an airplane! We paid a little extra to also receive two meals on board - a dinner and a breakfast. I know I'm alone when I say this, but I've always enjoyed airplane food. Sure, it's not gourmet or even fresh, but for some reason it always tastes pretty good to me. I happily ate my chicken and rice with my glass of Cab, and stole a taste of Jake's beef with potatoes and veggies. Dessert was little custard thing and tea - so civilized. For a few hours we wrote, edited photos, and I watched the new Reese Witherspoon movie, Wild, before trying to get a few hours of sleep. Bangkok was 5 hours ahead, so we wanted to do our best to get on the new schedule as quickly as possible. I woke a few hours later to breakfast - coffee, a chocolate chip cookie, and a ham and cheese sandwich. Delightful!
After almost 11 hours in the air, we landed in Bangkok! We stepped off the plane and onto the jet way, and into the sticky, hot environment that is Thailand. Phase 1 - complete. Phase 2 - Commence!