April 2, 2016:We have made it to Amsterdam airport, our halfway stop on the way to Entebbe airport, Uganda! It was a slightly rocky start because none of us could check-in online from home 24 hours before the flight as Is usually done. The computer told us we had to check in at the airport kiosk and it said something about needing to show the credit card used to purchase the flight. I’m not sure if this will be a routine thing but it’s a little worrisome to me to have to do this because what if your credit card is lost or stolen or what if I had used a Wilkes credit card to purchase the flight, which of course I couldn’t have brought with me to Uganda? Well I thought there must be a way around this for such instances…I was wrong and I write about it here as a warning to others so that you don’t have the same issue, if this turns out to be a new process of heightened flight security. Accidentally, one of the students didn’t bring the credit card used to purchase her flight, since she had used her father’s card. That seems like a common situation to me, a parent paying for a trip, but of course the father would need the credit card when she was in Uganda. So when she went to check in, and didn’t have the card, they wouldn’t let her and said they couldn’t just see a picture of the card. They told her that her parents had to bring the card to Newark airport, which would have been a 2+ hour drive and she would have missed the flight. Eventually they said her parents could bring the card to a local airport which luckily was only 15 min from their home. So the issue was resolved and we still had plenty of time to catch the plane BUT… It could have been worse if her parents were much farther from the airport.
The other glitch was that when I went to check in my bags, I ended up having to pay $400 to check in 2 extra 2 bags beyond my 2 bag allowance. When I travel to Uganda alone, I can manage with the 2 allotted bags- remember we are there for 1 month! But when I have students, I need to bring some extra stuff including a bunch of blood pressure cuffs for the screenings we will do, so I need 3 bags. Since I’ve been a Delta Skymiles Silver member due to my frequent trips to Uganda, though, the 3rd bag has been free. But apparently, this time my Silver status is no-more. I didn’t know this could go away and I had to pay for the extra bag. The final bag I had to pay for is filled with the books I’m bringing to the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda for the pharmacy interns. But, they agreed in advance to pay for the luggage fee. I wish I didn’t have to charge them. We used to be able to bring books for free when we used to travel via British Airways, because they have a humanitarian rate that allows 3 bags per person. But, they no longer fly to Uganda.
But, despite those issues, our first flight was fine and we are now safely in Amsterdam awaiting our next flight into Uganda. Stay tuned for more adventures from the Wilkes Pharmacy crew!