Our 3AM wake up call came and everyone was on the bus for the 4AM departure to the airport in Milan. We did not hit any traffic and arrived with plenty of time to arrive at the airline check-in counter and wait for it to open.
As they open and the first of our group start checking in; we get the news that they cannot supply boarding passes for our second flight (we flew from Milan to Dublin and then from Dublin to Boston) and that we would need to get these boarding passes from the check-in counter in Dublin.
Now, we had realized that we had just 1 hour from the time our first flight was scheduled to land and the time our second flight was supposed to depart. We had already prepared ourselves to be organized and efficient (with no restroom breaks) at the Dublin airport. Now we needed to schedule a stop at the counter to get boarding passes.
So the strategizing began. Everyone who needed to visit the tax free office left the gate and went back ot the Milan airport entrance to prepare their paperwork (and then go through security again). We tried speaking to all the agents about arrival gates and departure gates and where the ticket counter would be in Dublin - to no effect as no one in Milan was familiar with the Dublin airport and barely spoke English. A few of us tried getting information from the flight attendants on board the first flight (while they did call ahead to let the ground crew know 41 of us were coming in on the flight; they did not offer much knowledge and didn't seem as concerned as we were).
We landed in Dublin about 10 minutes ahead of schedule - giving us 70 minutes before next take off...
The group of us must have been a sight to see. Literally racing from one terminal toward the baggage area where the counter was to pick up boarding passes. Following the signs, we forged ahead - only to be stopped in a line. This was Irish Customs and we needed to wait our turn.
Down long hallways, stairs and escalators, we made our way to the baggage area and found the ticket counter. They had pre-printed our passes so it didn't take as long as it might have for 41 of us to get set. But they did hand us a US Customs card and indicated that needed to be completed before we reached the gate.
Off we went - where is Terminal B? More stairs and hallways. Already exhausted from a week of touring Italy and a 3AM wake-up call; we were determined and kept a quick pace.
Rounding a corner, we find ourselves in yet another line - say it ain't so! Yes, we have to go through security and we were not prepared for this. In our efficianecy, we had packed all of belongings. Many had bottles of water or soda in bags (dig them out and throw them away). No one had their ziplock toiletry bags ready for inspection (dig through the carry-ons and throw them in the plastic bins).
Many of us had issues at the security line; but to not embarrass anyone else, I will share my own story at this point: I had waited for everyone else back in Terminal A and had remained in the back of our line throughout the "airport run" so I was one the last to make it to security. Like everyone else, I had thrown away my water, taken off my shoes, belt and watch and had managed to get the laptop out of the bag for inspection. Walking through the metal detector, I set it off. They asked me to go through again - and again. I was asked to step t the side and was patted down while the security team used their metal-detecting wands. Finally, the guards gave up and said to just go on through..... Now I am even more behind the group and can't even see the others running down the corridors toward potential freedom. I put my shoes halfway on, throw my belt, watch and phone in my bag without zipping it up and carried the laptop in my other hand. I'm now part of the line of Stonehill travelers racing down the hall - literally racing. Without a belt my pants begin to slide and I realize that choosing to carry the computer was a bad idea!
I caught up to my friends at what? Another line! We now have to go through US Customs - oh yeah, have remembered to find a pen and fill out your cards? More important things first, as we tie our shoes, put on our belts and secure our carry-on belongings. Through the check we go. Almost there. Just through that door and we find our plane.
Nope. More stairs and another hallway. And finally to the gate attendant. We hand over our boarding passes, show our passports, and prove that we have completed our paperwork and onto the plane we go. The last of our group boarded the plane at 1:55pm - exactly 1 hour and 5 minutes after landing in Terminal A and exactly 5 minutes before the schedule departure.
How all 41 of us made it through that airport, I will never know. But we did it. And we did it without them holding the plane for us!
We arrived at Logan 30 minutes early. Said goodbye to some at the baggage claim and got on the courtesy shuttle back to campus (which had heard of the early landing and was waiting for us when we arrived). Safely back to Stonehill, the remainder of us said goodbye and wished other well (and some rest and relaxation!).