Reporter's Notebook: Lost Travel Days

I've never worked quite so hard to get to the world's most undesirable capital.

I left two days to get to ABC News' Iraq bureau. It seemed like enough time. Alas, I forgot about modern air travel, an experience my companions in the British Airways departure lounge compare unfavorably with waterboarding. My calendar now lists Dec. 16 as "The Lost Airport Day."

As President Bush scrambles to fashion short-term, mostly symbolic patches for the nation's worst-ever air travel conditions (like borrowing military airspace along the East Coast to ease Thanksgiving and Christmas traffic), Americans might take heart in one small consolation: There is company in our misery.

Just try flying British Airways, as I'm trying to do now.

I say "trying," because I have not escaped the British Airways travel lounge for hours now. After a two-hour delay in Dulles -- no bad weather, no security issues, something about staffing -- I missed my connection here. My connecting airline, BMI, was so efficient the plane left a few minutes early.

Facing a terminal change in the world's largest airport, even my best O.J. Simpson (pre-murder trial) airport dash impersonation wasn't enough to salvage the connection.

BMI then returned me to the original offender -- British Airways -- and a polite, but far from contrite, gate agent.

I rebooked through Frankfurt. With one switch of airlines and the need to check in in Frankfurt, opportunities for missed flights and lost bags abound. I plan on keeping an eye out for a concilliatory halal Christmas schnitzel for our Baghdad staff, in case I'm late.

Then the veddy civilized voice comes over the loudspeaker again: "We're teddibly sorry ... "

My new flight is now delayed an hour (thanks again to British Airways, making British dentistry look better and better). My bags and I now have 45 minutes to change terminals in Frankfurt ... if the current delay holds. They never do.

Bratwurst anyone?

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