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June 12, 2010 5:50:02 PM CDT (DFW)

We’ve been onboard American Airlines Flight 36 from DFW to Madrid, Spain for about 20 minutes now. Expected flight duration is about 9 hours and 14 minutes. We’ve backed away from the gate while the pilots finished their checklist. We start the long taxi to the appropriate runway and then stop after only a few minutes. The pilot comes over the PA and announces that they’ve got a tire pressure light flashing, so we’ve got head back to the gate to have the maintenance crew check the tires and pressure sensor. Fine. Trouble is DFW is a busy airport. Our old gate is already occupied, so we’ve got a bit of a wait until another gate opens up. Twenty minutes later we park at a gate.

“Oh gee, that indicator light was in fact the result of a flat tire. And damned if it don’t beat all, you need all them there tires to land without ensuing death and maimery and such, so we can’t just put Fix-a-Flat in it, no sir, what you really need is a new tire. I’m sure I’ve got one sitting around here somewhere, but it’s one of them fancy EYE-tal-yon models, so it’s gonna cost you a bit. ‘How long’ you say? You’ve got a connecting flight to catch? Oh, I don’t know, it’ll prob’ly take about half an hour or so, but since it’s an international flight and since you’ve already detached from the walkway, you’re going to need to remain in your seats for the duration.” [spittoon clang]

Sixty minutes later, the cockpit crew is overheard complaining that the “mechanic” didn’t bring the right wrench for the 777’s lugnuts. (Maybe Boeing uses the Potrzebie System of Measurements).

June 12, 2010 8:40:21 PM CDT (DFW)

We taxi from the gate and take to the skies, 170 minutes after our originally scheduled departure time. Everyone cheers the tardiness. Had the flight deck door been ajar, I’m sure we could have witnessed some manly shoulder punching and purely heterosexual towel snapping, too. Yet, as many of the little kiddies on the plane have already played out all the videogames and read all the inflight magazines, this unfortunate incident effectively chopped three hours out of the evening peace onboard.

June 13, 2010 12:54:37 PM CET (Spain)

We weren’t able to make up any lost time over the Atlantic, due to the fact that American would have to spend some more gas money if they stepped on the throttle (never mind all those missed connections), so we land at Madrid’s Barahas Airport roughly 180 minutes late. Well looky there, yep, it appears we’ve done missed our connecting flight, Iberia 3718 to Boukhalef Airport in Tangier, Morocco, oh, by about 45 minutes. Upon arriving at the gate, we’re informed by the cabin crew that although they personally know of no details on our connecting flights, we will, in fact, be greeted at the gate by ticketing personnel with revised boarding passes and gate information.

Surprise, they lied.

June 13, 2010 2:45:37 PM CET (Spain)

Shortly after disembarking, and thanks to some craftily idiotic Iberian attendant, we became seperated from our fellow travelers. Lorin, Maddie, Sofie and I have been wandering around Terminal T4S at the airport for almost two hours now, looking for someone ANYONE who even knows who in the frak we need to talk to to figure out where in the frak we’re supposed to be. You read that right. No one in the terminal, particularly no one at Iberia Airlines knew what had happened, much less what they were supposed to do about the situation. Everyone we spoke to at the Iberian desks passively “attempted” to reach someone at the American Airlines desk for more information, but they couldn’t find a phone number that worked, or even knew where the American desk was located. Keep in mind that by the time we landed, Barajas had known of the tire situation back in DFW and the ensuing delay for at LEAST nine hours. Feel the burn.

As dumb luck would have it, and no thanks to anyone except ourselves, we found the other members of our party after wandering onto an underground tram, which led us to the terminal at the other side of the international airport. They, unlike us, had been directed straight to the only open American Airlines information desk in Madrid. Although they were spared the three hours of wandering the airport, they were still standing in line waiting to speak to the clerk. Nevertheless, although there were open seats on a flight to Tangier from Madrid that afternoon, American Airlines didn’t want to shell out the cash to pay full price for replacement tickets, since that flight was with another airline. They will only put us on a flight to Tangier that offers a discounted rate, which won’t happen for at least a couple of days. However, they are willing to put us on a flight to Casablanca the following day (even though it is still a five hour drive from there to our destination), and they’ve got the name of a local rat’s nest in Madrid that will give us a free breakfast so long as we pay full price for two rooms. (FYI: The breakfast wasn’t free.)

THANK(frak) You, American Airlines for your deceit and greed. And you, Iberia, for your ineptitude and laziness. And that shitty Hotel Auditórium for your rude reception and wooden mattresses. And the entire Kingdom of Spain for just pissing me off to no end … you make me wish I’d taken French in high school.

June 14, 2010 11:16:11 PM WET (Morocco)

Despite La Main de Fatima Frappant, we finally arrive in Cassablanca, Morocco and look for the check in desk for a flight from here to Tangier, paid for out of our own pockets. It seems American Airlines couldn’t be bothered to pay for us to travel domestically to Tanger. I guess I can understand, since they at least got us within the same time zone as our originally ticketed destination.

June 14, 2010 3:18:00 PM WET (Morocco)

We land in Tangier, Morocco via Royal Air Moroc Flight 474. We’ve missed well over 24 hours of our Moroccan vacation thanks to a jerk in Dallas who won’t even bother to kick the tires before pulling out of the driveway. Thanks for making sure we didn’t blow up on touchdown, ya jerk. But on a happier note, our brief stay that night at the Hotel Andalucia Golf Tanger (5*) was fantastic.

And thus we begin our Moroccan vacation.

June 18, 2010 2:30:00 PM WET (Morocco)

So get this … a business man, a politician, and a professor walked into an office in Rabat …

Today we spent 45 minutes with the president of the Moroccan senate, Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah. The American political equivalent would be a hybrid of Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. He was intelligent, forthright, generous, and quite charming. We talked at length about international and regional politics, the Western Sahara issue, interest groups, and campaign financing. He spent a fair amount of time discussing the Texas Legislature, one of my favorite topics, given that Texas Representative Will Hartnett was part of our small delegation.

To be continued…

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