When the elderly man working at the gate ran to talk with the airplane-crew to say I was coming in, I thought everything would be all right. In a few minutes I would sit down on my aisle seat at the emergency exit with extra space which I had booked; and relax. Everything would be over. I would never have to meet these furious people from Las Palmas airport again. I would be on my way home. It did not end that way. He came back, with no hope in his eyes: He despaired: They had turned him down and he was not allowed to go in. Unbelievable.
Never had any problems in airports
I was told there would be no flying tonight. They said my 2 suitcases were taken out of the plane. It was a shock. It was so humiliating that I sat down and cried.
In all my life working as a journalist and travelling the world, nothing like this had ever happened to me. I never had any problem in airports. It was just not right. Why hadn´t the crew or someone neutral come out and talked to me?
The man said something about that it was better not to fly in this condition and I couldn’t believe my ears. It was nothing wrong with me. I was showing totally normal reactions. Probably he said it to comfort me.
Denied to pay for water
I was 100 percent sober, I was not unstable, I was just in shock and tired. I regretted having left the gate to buy wate that I needed for my regular medicines. Who in their wildest fantasy could imagine being denied paying for the water? I have never in my life met so angry and rude shop women. They claimed I made problems in the airport, saying nothing about their own provocative behaviour. Because of this; the airport staff sabotaged my flight home. Who wouldn’t be devastated? Like my young female friend said later: Why should YOU make problems there? And how did THEY treat YOU? She said she would have exploded if it was her. She would sue them and deny to leave the airport.
In the real world, this was not possible. If you sue spanish police, noone will hear you. To live in an airport with no upcoming flights is hard. And exploding would give them extra points. Normally it is possible to explain yourself, but these people wouldn’t listen. And they spoke poor English
I was talking for deaf ears
Waiting at the gate, seeing everyone else border, I had told the security guy: – These are normal reactions: I was aggressively treated, my rights were taken away and it is unfair. I also told him I have flight anxiety. He repeated flight anxiety like «is that all?» But no help, no water, no solution.
Now he looked unhappy. He had been mad at me when he came screaming into the gate and attacked me at my seat, but he never said I couldn’t fly and that the plan had changed. I had also heard him say to himself; «she had the documentation on her phone.» He remembered me from security and knew I was good.
Why – por que?
I had asked him ; do you really want to do this to an innocent woman? and he had not answered. He had asked me – are you a journalist, and I had nodded and showed him my international press card. He had asked, here or there, and I said, in Norway, and I have a blog: I write about my experiences. He looked down then.
I had waited in vain. Who made this decision? I heard the security guard mentioning a name in Spanish, but did not get it.
No help from Sweden
The older employee said I had to call Norwegian to change my flight. Saturday night? It was not possible to reach them and there were no more flights this weekend. Why did they not offer any help there? They said a woman working for the company was coming to help out. A Swedish, grown woman appeared. Without looking at me or asking what happened, she asked if I could get any help from Sweden. Sweden? I said I was Norwegian. She did not offer any help at all. She just complained that I did not use a mask. Munnskydd. Masks were not what I was thinking about at this moment, I was just devastated the plane left without me. I said I had documentation. She asked to see it and I showed it like I had showed it to around hundred people these last months. She looked at my arm and said «why do you have a mask then?»
She can do nothing
What a question to ask in this situation. But I stayed calm and explained: This is the new trend in Spain for travellers, to have a mask on your arm, just in case something should happen and they will not accept you inside a toilet or taxi for instance. It had become a habit. I would use it tonight if it would help the situation, but it didn’t. After this there were no more questions. She claimed I was mad, which I wasn’t. I have seen mad people, I have been mad, and my voice was not even loud or sharp, and I thought; how do you even dare to talk to me in this way instead of helping me?
I told the old man she was not nice to me. He shrugged his head and said » she can do nothing.»
Felt like a criminal
They followed me downstairs where I would get my suitcases. My legs were superheavy and moved very slow. It is a feeling I will never forget. I felt like a criminal. I felt wounded. It was deeply humiliating and degrading. It felt like hours before the suitcases came. I asked what I should do now and they did not know. I asked for the name of a nearby hotel and got it.
Agreed I should complain
I said I would complain and the old man nodded. He understood. He repeated; call Norwegian to change the flight, call the embassy from the hotel, maybe they have the number there.
After that they were done with me. I was dumped like an item. They even said «it stops here.» Like I was on a dead end street. And I was.
Alone and crying
I felt excluded and stupid standing outside the airport with the 2 heavy suitcases I had been so happy to check in a few hours ago. I took a taxi to the hotel they recommended. I was in shock and heard myself crying in the backseat.
No new flight for a week
When I got to the hotel, I dragged my suitcases with me and was able to ask for a room in the reception. I was still crying. The receptionist said she had a room there and I had to pay 90 euro straight away. That was expensive. I looked around me and saw that the place was isolated, in the middle of nowhere. I could not stay there. What had I been thinking of? I had no new flight and found no new openings with SAS and Norwegian until one week later. With tears in my eyes and rusty voice I said I needed to sit down and think about it. She felt sorry for me and nodded.
Spanish world champions and red wine
I sat down in the reception and called a friend in Norway, sobbing. He had stayed long time in the island and gone home. The man felt sorry for me and gave support. He talked about the Spanish hot temper and how Spanish people sometimes think they are World Champions. He asked me to please find a good place to stay, buy a bottle of red wine and relax.
After this conversation I found out it was better for me to go back to Puerto Rico. I texted the man I had rented an apartment from and asked if it was possible to get the key back and stay a bit longer. It felt awkward. He said yes, it was ok, but only 2 days, after that new people were coming.
A heavy return with one million stairs
Then I texted you to hear if you could help me with the heavy suitcases. You were working evening shift in the restaurant, and could not come. Your guests needed service that night. We could meet up later.
I moaned. I had lived in a complex with millions of heavy stairs. Earlier this day I had struggled packing everything and managing to get all the luggage down by myself. It took ages. I dreaded having to carry the heavy baggage up all the stairs again. But I had to. I could not leave all my stuff at the entrance. Having been ill with bronchitis, it took time. I was mad and it gave me the power I did not have.
How to get in touch with Norwegian
I texted some friends about what had happened and got support. The next day was Sunday and I was scared I would not get in touch with Norwegian.
I called the airline and tried to chat with them at the same time. I called for hours but never got through. The chat was better: I was patient and managed to come in contact with an English talking guy. He said he did not understand Norwegian, but he understood the situation. He assured me I would get the money back from this flight even though I was checked in: It was a flexible ticket. This helped a lot. The ticket was expensive. I asked him to make sure I got the money. Also he sent me a link to show me how I could complain and ask for compensation and money back for the extra days.
I opened the link and started writing. As a journalist, this is something I manage: Writing and telling about experiences. It has been my job for many years. I remembered more details and continued writing. I also wrote the embassy, and they were sorry I was so badly treated at the airport.
No flights – expensive tickets
But how I could get home? Norwegian had no vacant seats until a week later and SAS was also full and even more expensive. The insurance company wanted me home asap, but they hadn’t said they would pay for it. Later Norwegian got an opening on Wednesday and I booked the last, very expensive aisle seat.
Had to move again
My energy was low. Also I had to move again after 2 days. The guy renting me the apartment, said he had a new option and I took it. It was small, simple and ugly, but it was a place to stay. The last day I went swimming and having lunch at the beachclub in Amadores to cheer myself up, and we met in a restaurant in Puerto Rico shopping center in the night, as you remember. Black&White would have been nicer as you suggested, but I was on the other side of the center, and could not make myself move.
You even get water in prison
The next morning I did not feel so good. My body was heavy. Facing the airport again was not tempting. I went to have English breakfast at the beach. I told the waiter I had flight anxiety and he smiled at me and said, then dont drink more coffee, take a pill and water. We laughed together. The simple things I was denied in the airport and that you even get in prison.
So relieved to come home
Once again I packed my suitcases, booked a taxi and got ready for the flight. The rest I already told you – how I was advised to mask and look different to avoid any problems with these people again. No-one recognised me. When we reached Oslo I was relieved. My friend met me with my car and I did not mind that it was cold. It was just so good to be home. I know you dont like cold weather, and normally I dont either, but it was refreshing. I needed it.
I saw my doctor. She knows me. She wrote medical reports that I sent to my insurance company and the airline. They take their time.
Remember the good parts
I was unlucky that my trip ended like this. But I have to remember all the good parts. How much fun I had and how envious my friends were that I could stay so long in a warm and cozy island.
Could have met more aggressive people
I am thankful no worse things happened to me. I could have met even more aggressive people. A Norwegian woman visiting Africa during this period ended up in jail because she and her friends were a few minutes late back from curfew.
You had to hide your face
My heart is grieving for all the pain this pandemic gave. It is sad and still not to believe that the world ended up like this, like a hostile planet, like a war zone. Normally friendly people started fighting eachother. So many people lost their minds and became aggressive and depressed. And we had to mask, hide our faces, to be accepted by society. Even small kids wore them in school and suffered. It is cruel and something I never thought I would experience in my life.
You probably started sleeping before I finished this long post. We are still talking on messenger. You watch my ice swim photos and videos and ask me to stay strong.
Italian chefs with a heart are better than Spanish machos showing off power demonstrations .
Thanks again for support.
Hugs and kisses
Of course there are bigger dramas in this life.
1.I am not a victim in the war in Ucraine.
2. The doctor did not diagnoze with me with cancer. I had a heavy, acute bronchitis, was treated with penicillin and ventoline and got rid of it after some weeks.
3.I still had some savings after the Spanish doctor totally ripped me off and was able to pay my new expenses and buy a new plane ticket. Many people couldn’t.
4.I could go back to a safe country and get help from my doctor and send complaints.
5.I am a writer and good at paper work and I know how not to give up against power people.
6. It is the first time I have been badly treated in an airport. I am aware of that other people experience racism, bullying and discrimination every day.
6.I can work on the experience of being bullied and turn it around and say – hey – your disrespectful treatment is not good enough for me. I am worth much more than this. Behaving like this to me, you show how weak you are. You do not deserve my time or respect. And next time I will have even more self control and not answer back: This is what they want and that boost their self esteem.
I had a similar experience with a furious, English waiter in a bar in Puerto Rico. He screamed at me; «Are you looking for the bathroom? You have to pay! I know you were not gonna eat here and you dont have a table.» I had just checked the menu and froze dead. I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak. But he got ruder and more provocative and in the end I yelled back at him. You should see that smile on his face. He nodded and was happy that he succeeded getting me out of balance. It made his day. His «fan club», some young girls in a table were applauding.
Well, not next time. I have learnt. I will not take the bait, just smile and leave.
7.ALL my friends supported me and agreed I was terribly treated at the airport and that I am the only victim here. My rights were taken away and I was prevented from my 2 needs; 1. having water 2. flying. They did nothing, they acted unprofessional and pulled out a cowardly demonstration of power.
8. I am thankful that I have a home, a safe place to stay and that it is far away from this place.
Still it was and is a traumatic experience. This is to you and all my dance friends:
I am on my way to other places
I will surely travel and write about my experiences again. I do not know when or where. Maybe to Portugal. One friend say they are more friendly and respectful there than in Spain. I want to see your country Italy as well, but not until all restrictions are gone. A greek island is out of question as long as they deny people to dance zorba in the night. Also my heart still beats for Turkey.