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2014:

a Newark

odyssey

An epic drama of a 4 day travel towards a dream


by Georgi Minkov

introduction
by Diana Minkova

My husband originally wrote this story to share it with the participants


in the forum of the Bulgarian emigrants in Canada. It is about our travel
experience and the first few days we spent in our new home in Quebec
City. He wrote it to clear his mind of the stress and the worries we had.
Actually, we couldnt quite overcome the memory of our crazy trip until recently (more than 6 months later), when we wrote a complaint to
United Airlines explaining how discontented we were with their services
and trying to get back the money for the unforeseen expenses. Their response was satisfactory (you can read about it at the end of the book) but
it brought up even more questions about the policies of the airlines, as
well as thoughts on

what to do in case your flight is cancelled, especially when you


are travelling with two small children.
I know we made some mistakes along the way and we learned from them,
but in either case things would have been difficult. I clearly remember my
daughter asking me Mom, is this day scary? I told her No, as long as
we are safe and sound, it is not. Then on the next day, when our baby got
sick this was no longer the case.
You are probably asking yourself where the title of this story came from.
Well, it has a lot to do with my husbands love for science fiction and his
sense of humor, which he implemented in the story, even though the
whole experience was painful both physically and mentally. He took on
the harder task of trying to get us on a plane after several cancellations.
I stayed with the kids, trying to look cheerful, so that I dont scare our
daughter. She also acted very adequately without the usual fussiness.

I am sure there are millions of stories like ours. If you would like to share
a story or offer a piece of advice, I would love to hear it. You can write to
me at diana.pl.georgieva@gmail.com

2014: a Newark odyssey


by Georgi Minkov

I havent been able to get much sleep lately, so I decided to write a few
lines about our trip to Quebec City. The text is a bit rough. I wrote it in one
breath and have barely edited it, so dont be too critical. I will hardly have
any time to fix it the next few weeks, so I will publish it like this. Sorry its
a bit long, but it is like the story itself - long.

A trip from Sofia to Quebec City. February 12th, 2014.


The date was February 12th. The trip was an important part of our Immigration project and was given due attention. I chose Lufthansa because I
wanted everything to be right. There was no place for mistakes! I decided
to fly through New York to avoid encounters with immigration officers
during the trip. I could have bought our tickets online but I decided to go
to the airport in Sofia and buy them from an officer of the airlines, just
to be on the safe side - it cost me some additional 200 leva. The luggage
preparation was also given due attention. I thought of everything down
to the smallest detail. I even packed a box of my favorite Lavazza coffee
and an espresso maker, so that I could spend the first sunny morning in
Canada with a cup of my favorite coffee. I sent some additional 100 kg of
baggage by air. The shipment was scheduled for delivery a few days after
our arrival, so that I have enough time to buy a car and go to Montreal
to get the luggage. During this journey I could see only two unknowns

- changing planes in Munich had to be done in 1 hour and 15 minutes,


which seemed a bit too quick. The second was the arrival in Quebec. It
was scheduled for midnight and I did not know if I would find an awake
immigration officer at that time.
So - 12 February, 12:00 am, Sofia airport. Many relatives came to see us
off, there were a few tears, like with every goodbye. The flight from Sofia
to Munich was normal. At Munich airport a bus took us from the plane to
the airport. All we had to do was go up one level and go to the last gate.
No problems at all. We even had half an hour to use the restroom. The
flight from Munich to New York also went smoothly. I got so impressed by
the flight attendants who did their job perfectly. At the end of the flight
one of them came over and offered to give us four jars with baby food.
She said that they were required to dispose of that food after the flight
anyway, so we could keep it. We had taken enough baby food for the flight
but we thanked the kind woman and took the jars. Landing in New York
was very beautiful! It was a clear dark night and the lights of New York
could be seen so clearly! Beauty! The sight reminded me of Kyustendil at
night, seen while going down from Konyavo Mountain by the zhiguli.
During the flight we filled out a customs declaration. In the field How
much money do you intend to spend in the United States without hesitation I wrote $0.00. I will spend nothing in America. Im not leaving here a
dime. I dont even have American dollars with me. We landed, they took
our fingerprints and photographed us. I grinned for a better picture and
we went to look for the luggage. At Sofia airport I had asked several times
if we were having our luggage delivered straight to Quebec or we would
have to look for it ar the airports. The answer was always Yes, it will be
delivered directly to Quebec. Okay, but it wasnt; they took it down and
we had to transfer it to the new flight. All right, but how to do this? I saw
our suitcases immediately as they were wrapped in stretch foil and took
them off the carousel and now ... what? I went looking for carts. I found
some but I needed coins for them and I had none. On top of that the carts

were small and would not fit four 150 liter suitcases. Moreover, I had three
bags of carry on luggage and a baby stroller. So as I was fidgeting and
wondering what to do, a nice African American man approached with the
question Are you flying to Quebec? and offered us his services. I was
slightly surprised by the question but there was no time to think about
it. Of course I needed help! We quickly loaded the suitcases and he took
us through some corridors to the place where we had to drop them off.
My wife asked him if we owe him something. He naturally replied Yes.
How much? As much as you want to give me. Oh no! I hate this answer
so much... No, you please tell me how much it is appropriate to give. He
answered $10. OK! At this point I was ready to give him even $50. I tell
him I have no American dollars. I have only Canadian. Can I give you Canadian dollars? Yes. Okay, I pulled out $20. The man showed us the way
to our gate and we soon parted with wide smiles.
We took a shuttle to the terminal and before long we were standing in
front of the gate. Things lined up great! We had only one short flight left
to get to Canada and... oh heart, stop beating so fast! As I sat down and
waited for my flight, my eyes involuntarily stopped at a huge line in front
of United Airlines. I noticed that the people were standing there for half
an hour and even more, and discussing something with the employees of
United. Poor folks! What misery led them to this line! But little do I care.
Ive got only about an hour left to the cherished last flight to Canada. So
as I sat and stared around, my wife suddenly said, I wonder why the
screen says our flight is canceled. It says the same over there for the
flight to Manchester, but there is no information for the flight to Ottawa.
Ugh... how would I know! It is already very late, an employee may have
had a drink and messed things up. The weather was great - nice and clear.
For the past 10 days I had checked the weather forecast several times a
day. There was supposed to be snow on the 13th and wonderful weather
on the 12th. As I stood wondering what went wrong, the man at the gate
said the flight for Quebec was canceled. Whaaat? How come canceled! Are
you crazy?! This is my last flight leading up to my dream! I still couldnt
believe my ears. The only thing that made me think that this was not a

joke was the cry of a group of Quebecers near us. While I was wondering
what to do, the people ran out from the gate and lined up so quickly that
the line doubled its size from 50 people to about 100. And finally there
was me - the 101st person. The line was going horribly slowly. After about
two hours of waiting, my daughter who was sitting and waiting, got tired
and began crying and asking if we could go back to Sofia. A deeply touching moment of our trip! At that time, about 20 hours had passed from
our departure from Sofia. After another hour and a half it was my turn.
The flight was canceled. All of the flights would be canceled the next day
as well. The airport would be just closed. The earliest plane to Quebec
that we could board was the morning of the 14th. All hotels were fully
booked. They couldnt offer us hotel accommodations. But because they
were merciful, not because of us but because of our children they would
give us 9 food vouchers for $7 each. Thats it. Yeah right, but where are
we going to sleep until the 14th? Aghh, I dont know - sleep where you
want to sleep.
What a shock! I started to protest. Hey, people, if this was happening
only to me I could understand this attitude, but I was here with two little
children. What was I supposed to do with them here? How were we going
to spend the night at the airport? We were not prepared for this. We had
no... At that moment I heard the voice of my wife, who calmly told me in
Bulgarian, Joro, he doesnt care about that. I looked at the person... Yes,
he could care less. There was no point in talking. After a while, the man
went to sleep in a warm place with his family. His shift was over. At that
time, already about midnight, snowflakes started fluttering outside and
quickly turned into a snowstorm. Where could we go in this weather? Employees were leaving one after another as their shifts were ending. Who
cares about us. Before leaving, one of the employees gave us two bottles
of cold water and ... that was it. What do we do now? A snowstorm started
outside! It was midnight. Our baby was sleeping in the stroller and kept
waking up crying every 20 minutes. My daughter had fallen asleep on a
chair completely exhausted. We had no phones. The free Wi Fi turned out
to be paid. OK, we paid, went through a long registration process, entered

our credit card number and finally... some mistake in some server. I let an
employee know there wasnt even free Wi Fi here, and he replied There
is nothing free in this world! Yes, later we realized that we were charged
$5 for the internet which we couldnt use when we needed it badly. Later
it turned out we had created a subscription and the only way to cancel
it was to make a phone call. Well, I decided that without any connection
with anyone, we couldnt go anywhere. We had to sleep at the airport.
What did we have? A pillow and a blanket. They had left a bag of pillows.
I asked my wife to take some more. Now what? We had a blanket and 4
pillows. And how exactly were we going to spend two nights here with a
10-month old baby and a 4-year old child?
This is where I lost it. I went to the last remaining employee of United
and asked her in a not particularly polite tone what she suggested we do
with two sleeping kids at midnight at the airport when there was a storm
outside? Well, there were no available hotels. Those before us have filled
them all up. There are hotels but you have to pay yourself. One night costs
$110 before taxes. Well, of course we are going to pay, just tell us which
hotel has availability! Horror! And if I had not yelled she would have left
and ... So there are rooms at the Howard Johnson Hotel. You can make a
reservation by phone. Quickly I waved to my wife to come over. She was
with the children. At that point I was in a complete shock and could not
tolerate making a reservation by phone. My biggest shock was that in a
trip prepared to the smallest detail for months, I was lead to a situation
in which I had no control over events and could not find a satisfactory
solution. My wife called to get the directions, spelled our names carefully
and provided our credit card numbers Thank God I had two credit cards
from Bulgaria! I hate to think what would have happened if I didnt have
them. After lots of explanations, the reservation was finally made. I tried
to make a phone call to a friend in Canada who was supposed to be waiting for us at the airport but after the third attempt I gave up. There was
a German woman next to us who had a very long phone conversation.
Later that night we saw her at the reception of the same hotel we were
staying at. It turned out that there was no reservation under her name. I

dont know what happened to that woman. There was another Bulgarian
middle-aged woman with us, an American citizen. She chose to sleep at
the airport. The next day her children came to pick her up.
Our reservation was made and we had to get to the hotel. My wife knew
the route. We took the three heavy pieces of hand baggage, our sleeping daughter, the stroller with the sleeping baby and we left.First we took
the airport train to station P4 and then the hotel shuttle. The first thing I
noticed at the hotel was the scaffold just in front of the entrance, which
supported the visor. The next day I saw that they were supporting the
rotting wooden trusses of the visor. Luckily, the heavy snow didnt cause
this part of the building to collapse on top of us. After a brief conversation at the reception, we quickly checked into our room and put the kids
to bed. We also went to bed. I kept asking myself, how did we get here?
Fortunately, the hotel had a free Wi-Fi and we finally managed to calm
down our relatives telling them we are fine. Actually I dont know whether
they calmed down or got worried even more. The next day went by monotonously. We had breakfast in the morning. We stayed in the room
watching the weather and trying to relax and recuperate. Unfortunately,
it turned out there were only clothes for the children and almost nothing
for us in the carryon luggage. I could care less. We struggled with the
time difference so we went to bed really early that evening. I dont know
how I woke up at about 7:30pm. I decided to check the flight for the next
morning. I looked and ... oh, another surprise! The flight was canceled!
Now what? I got up, put on my clothes and headed to the airport. I lined
up at the counters of United and waited. I dont remember exactly how
long I waited but I remember clearly the employee who helped me. It
was a very nice woman. After a lot of effort she found us a flight for the
15th in the morning but we had to travel through Montreal. Little did I
care where we were going through, I just wanted to get there quickly. The
woman was very helpful. She gave us another nine $7 vouchers for food.
I asked her for a voucher for the hotel. She said she could give me one
but only for tonight. Well, I had already paid for the second night. I asked
her if she could give it to me anyway and I could probably exchange it at

the hotel for my money. Yes, of course. Which hotel are you staying at?
At the Howard Johnson Hotel. Oh sorry, we have no contract with them.
Ah, I got it now. Thats why there were vacant rooms there. I went back
to the hotel to deliver the great news that we had to stay another day
and night (third) at the hotel. The next day - the 14th I had to go back to
the airport to get the boarding passes for the flight on the 15th. Because
there were more than 24 hours left until the flight, they couldnt issue
them in the evening of 13th. So I went again. This time I was helped by
an employee ... well, she was very nice and polite but it seemed she was
learning how to do her job now ... It took her about an hour to issue the
boarding passes. I returned to the hotel.
The baby food we had with us was already over, so we had an emergency.
At the airport they carried diapers but no baby food. Now where can we
buy baby food? The receptionist offered to call us a taxi to Walmart. Okay,
great! I thought it would be an ordinary taxi. It turned out it was a taxi
compny that is contracted with the hotel. Going to the store cost us $50
+ 20% tip. It took more than half an hour. We bought diapers, baby food,
tooth brushes, toothpaste and various other essentials. Ooh, how happy I
was to brush my teeth! The return to the hotel which lasted less than 10
minutes (!) also cost $50 but this time only + 15% tip. I didnt like the
way the driver, a young woman, was chitchatting on the phone in Spanish
the whole time. The price we payed for that taxi was a shock. Later we
complained at the hotel reception. They called the lady and she claimed to
have told us in advance about the cost, but this was not true. Her accent
was so strong that we couldnt understand everything she was saying. It
was obvious though that she was talking about other subjects.
We returned to the hotel relieved that we now had food for the baby. Our
relief, however, was short-lived. We found out that the baby had a fever.
What could we do now? We were tourists here. We had no insurance,
nothing at all. Of course, we took all sorts of medicines, thermometers,
even an inhaler but all of those items were in our suitcases. In the hand

luggage we had nothing. After half an hour filled with stressful emotions
we found out the names of the medicines we needed - infant Advil or Tylenol, and we needed them urgently. Having them both was better. I went to
the reception desk and asked where we could find this medication. They
had them in the gift shop but only for adults. Nothing for babies. Super!
What should we do in this situation?, Well go to the emergency of the
nearest hospital, but first ask whether United can provide you with medical care. With the speed of a boar I rushed back to the airport. This time,
I had an employee with an ice cold expression. I explained to her that we
have already had two cancelled flights and our son got sick. What should
we do? Well I can call a paramedic for you. Right, well call, but who is
going to pay? No reply. Once again, who will pay for the paramedic? No
reply. Well, in the long run who is going to take care of this expense? It is
obvious? You will! You are the father, you call- you will pay. Well right,
but we have some insurance with the tickets we bought, does it not cover
paramedic? Are you implying that it is our fault that your son got sick?
Yes, I think he got sick because of your cancellations. Of course you arent
to blame for the storm, but we arent to blame too! But you think it is our
fault, we canceled the flight and your son got sick. Yes, I think so. And
once again the same question and the same answer. (I think I was wrong.
In the first flight from Sofia to Munich we traveled with a relative who
had an 18-month old boy. He got sick at exactly the same time and had
exactly the same symptoms as our son. Both children were infected with a
virus on the first flight. This was brought to my attention later. But we had
medical insurance for Canada and now we could have been there!) Well,
sir, continued the ice queen, I can call someone else you can argue with,
not with me. Blah blah, Im sick of you already! I dont want to talk with
anyone anymore! I only ask because Im stupid and dont understand.
I turned around and went looking for medicines. It turned out that only
terminal C had a kiosk offering such drugs but they carried only Advil.
I bought it. Do you have a thermometer? No, we dont. Geez, what an
airport! They sell everything here, but you cannot find baby food and a
simple thermometer. Well, do you know where I could find here a ther-

mometer? I dont think you can find one here at the airport. Great! I
went back to the hotel the fastest possible way. Our babys temperatue
was higher. We gave him the medicine. Now we could only pray that his
condition doesnt get worse. If we had to, we would call a paramedic. We
would pay for it. We would do anything for our son. The day was about to
end. I checked again the next days flights. Everything was OK. We went
to bed. The night was terrible! The baby was waking up crying constantly.
His temperature was rising. Around 4 am we woke up and gave him medicine. I dont know why but my wife said, Are they going to cancel this
flight too? No way!? I checked a few hours ago and it was ok. Ill check
again; anyway we cannot sleep. I am checking and Oh no! The flight was
canceled! Horror! Now what do we do? Well, I cannot stay here knowing
that the flight was canceled. Im going back to the airport. I will go, all
right, but I had washed my only pair of underwear and socks that I had
been wearing for several days now. I tried to dry them with the hair dryer
but they were still wet. The pants would quickly dry on my butt but how
about the socks? It is not wise to go out with wet socks in the winter. If I
get sick too well be in real trouble. Then my wife said, Well, take mine...
the pink ones? What? I say to my woman: Do you realize what you are
saying to put on your pink socks! Well then, put on the black ones.
Come on, no way I would wear your socks! Am I a man or not?! All right,
is it better to get sick? No, no, I will put on my own socks. I put one, I began to put on the other ... wow damn sock, it was very wet! Ughh.. I gave
it a second thought ... Well, give me the black ones. I put on my wifes
socks, which turned out to be black only on the foot and the rest was pink,
orange, red and.... and I went back to the airport. At 4:30 I was at another line at the counters of United. It was not long.There were only about
10-15 people but there was only one employee working, so the line was
virtually not moving. My turn came about three hours later. At that point,
there was additional staff and I was called by a friendly African American
employee. I told him that we had already three canceled flights, that my
son fell ill and we urgently needed to get to Canada, where at least we had
health insurance. The man kept checking and checking... and finally said
he was going to Air Canada, and asked me to wait. I waited and waited

but I was all aches and pains. I sat where they checked in the baggage
facing the huge queue and stared dully towards the bright future. The
officer came back, continued to check something again and went to Air
Canada, and I sat down again. After about an hour, he said that there is
a possibility of flying to Montreal today and then to Quebec with the Canadian airlines, but we have to go to the airport in New York. United will
pay for the taxi. What do you mean by New York, arent we in New York?!
Ah yes, of course, this is not New York but New Jersey and we are at the
Newark Airport, and have to go to New York LaGuardia Airport and catch
a flight with Canadian Airlines.
The plan was simple: from here to P4 by train, from there by shuttle to
the hotel, take the family back to Newark Airport Terminal B, take a taxi
from there to LaGuardia Airport. From there fly to Montreal and from
there flight to Quebec and, voila, we would be at home. There were only
two weak points in this plan. That we had to do all this with a sick baby
and that according to the weather forecast, a new snowstorm was expected. What would we do in LaGuardia if Air Canada canceled its flights
too? But it was the only plan we had. I thanked the man. God bless him
and all his family for sending us to Air Canada! I went to P4. Involuntarily,
my eyes fell on the black socks that I borrowed from my wife. They were
actually very colorful and I laughed to myself, especially when I imagined
how I had looked like while I was sitting in front of the United line with
my pant legs above my ankles. But who cares! That was the only moment
in the entire day when I felt like laughing. I went back to the hotel and
my family. They had just woken up from the long and difficult night. Our
first flight was at about 18:00 but I wanted us to leave as soon as possible. The hours spent in front of the United counters had already showed
me that everything here happened at a deadly slow speed. Besides the
moment when United canceled our first flight and we were left alone in
the empty waiting room at the airport, this was the second awful point in
this journey. We were supposed to take our sick baby out in the cold and
go somewhere without knowing how far we were going to get. God help
us! At that moment I remembered we had luggage. What are we doing

with those four large suitcases that contained almost all our stuff? They
will remain in Newark! Well, who cares about the luggage! Now the most
important thing is to get to Canada! I dont care about the luggage. We
collected our hand luggage, took the kids and left. The driver of the shuttle decided that this was the perfect moment to talk with his relatives in
Egypt (or some other country in that area) and started shouting so loud
that he made the baby cry. I asked him several times to speak more quietly but he ignored me. He finished his call and asked where we wanted
to go. To terminal B, at the taxi stand, said my wife. I didnt even look at
him. After we got off, he said, What about a tip? He was totally wrong!
What tip!? He didnt deserve it plus I had given all my euros for my previous trips which were so many. I had only a few metal Bulgarian lev left in
the back pocket of my jeans. I pulled them out and gave him one lev. I
told him that it was worth about a dollar. The driver almost threw up.
We found the taxi stands and caught a taxi to LaGuardia. The taxi was
dirty. One of the devices on the board was ripped off and wires were
hanging. The windows had half peeled off dirty stickers on them. God, I
dont care anymore, just take us to LaGuardia and turn down the air conditioner blowing right into our sick baby. We passed through Chinatown,
then over a bridge - some local landmark. I was in New York for the first
time. In other circumstances I would have been impressed at least by the
brigde but I didnt even remember its name. My only concern at that time
was the increasing snowfall and the realization of my worst nightmares.
The driver made two laps until he found the entrance to Air Canada, and
stopped right in front of it which earned him a well deserved 20 Canadian
dollar tip. It seemed that from the moment we saw the Canadian flag
waving in front of Air Canada the sun began to rise on our street. The
lines there had nothing to do with those in front of United. Our turn came
quickly. The employee couldnt believe that our boarding passes were
wrong, just like those of the other passengers coming from United. She
fixed our boarding passes and told us to go to the gate to Montreal and be
ready. I was surprised! Our flight was at 6:00 pm. There was a lot of time
left. In front of the luggage check point there was a long line but when the

employees saw us with a baby, they immediately directed us to another


corridor with fewer people. My daughter hadnt eaten and was hungry
and the last employee of United had given me another 10 meal vouchers,
which topped up the pile of canceled boarding passes and other vouchers
from the previous days. I tried to get her something to eat but I couldnt.
They called us immediately for the flight to Montreal. Outside there was a
heavy snowfall but they spread something on the wings and took off. Its
hard to describe the thoughts and feelings during the last two flights. It
was hard to realize that this is the end of a nearly four-year long saga to
getting the visas, and the ending of a four-day long trip. From here on,
everything went smoothly. We landed in Montreal. We passed the immigration services. The flights to Quebec were very busy that night. They
even announced that they would provide two buses to accommodate all
the passengers. Somehow, however, they managed to put us on a flight
early and we landed in Quebec at 9 oclock instead of 1 oclock after midnight. In the long run our flight was: Sofia - Munich - New Jersey - (taxi
to) New York - Montreal - Quebec and lasted four days.
Even the pain from this terrible journey was not able to mar my joy of
landing on Canadian soil. We reported our lost luggage. It was an advantage that I had wrapped it in foil and I had put a note with my name and
address in Quebec. Most of the suitcases arent wrapped and those who
are, are easily noticed and located. Thanks to our friends in Quebec we
had everything we needed in the apartment. I thought that the baggage
will be delayed 1 or 2 weeks but it was delivered the next night. Incredibly nice surprise! The baby, however, continued to have a fever. On the
fifth day from the beginning of the fever we totally lost patience and took
him to the doctor. How did we get to the right hospital, by foot, with the
two kids, at minus temperatures in a snowstorm is whole separate story.
It was good that a woman, which we stopped to ask for directions, drove
my wife and the baby to a hospital. Not knowing exactly where they
went, my daughter and me started looking for them at the medical centers in the neighborhood. I even tried to detect where they were with an
application for finding stolen I-pad ... well ... its a tale of woe! With no

preparation, without a phone and without a car at the beginning even


the easiest things are terribly difficult. Meanwhile our friend had seen my
message on Skype and came to help me. My wife had also managed to
call a neighbor from the hospital. The whole waiting and the examinations
at the emergency took us 10 hours and $1400. We had made a health
insurance for the first three months but it turned out, however, that we
first have to pay and then be reimbursed. It turned out that the baby had
flu and the doctors expected him to recover in few days. And so it happened. I quickly had to buy a car now. The luggage, unlike us, had arrived
on time and was already waiting for me in Montreal. I found one in Kijiji.
My friend here helped me again! I will be forever grateful. The car was
decent but the owner was a Canadian from Congo and the car smelled like
Congo dishes. Maybe until I get around to wash it, it will lose its smell.
The man was in a hurry to sell the car because he had sent a container to
Congo and had to quickly go there and free it. And my luggage was waiting at the airport in Montreal and I quickly had to go there and take it.
So, we both were in a hurry and good things happen quickly. I bought
the car. They fooled me a bit with the first car insurance but never mind
- I stepped on the gass towards Montreal. Some employees in the office
of Raiffeisen bank in Bulgaria were not able to increase the daily limit on
one of the credit cards and we never managed to order the furniture from
Ikea, which we have had carefully chosen long before. Apart from the
luggage I also needed to buy some furniture. No problem, the car is big
and has room for everything. I did all that in Saturday. On Sunday I put
together the table and chairs and, wow, it felt incredible not to be eating
while standing right next to the sink! A new week started. The baby was
already recovered. Now we can go to fix the documents. We got up, had
breakfast as white people sitting at a new table and new chairs... oh my,
now everything is in my hands and I can start dealing with health insurance cards, social insurance numbers... The health card in the first place
because the end of the month is approaching. The children and my wife
are getting ready and I get off to warm up the car a little, the baby ... the
baby must be protected from the cold. As I was thinking about the day,
I stepped on the street and ... ah? Wheres the car? The car is gone! The

street was so clean and nice! Like swept. One could watch with pleasure.
Absolute delight! But where is my car, my new old car? I noticed that the
other cars were gone too! So here, they either steal cars, all the cars of
the neighborhood at once or they have picked them up and drove them
who knows where, because they have cleaned the street from snow. I
know that there are some flashing lights that should be carefully observed
whether they are flashing or not (the newcomer has nothing else to do
but watch the lights). The light didnt blink, but apparently while I was
sleeping they began blinking and ... My friend helped again in this very
difficult situation. They have transported the car a few blocks away into a
dull street. As I was wondering with whom I have to deal with to take it, I
saw a note at the wipers. Ah, yes! All is written here. Nobody to deal with,
they have written it - $126 or $ 136 I dont remember. I started up my car
and went for the health cards. Ill have to go and pay my fine these days
at the municipality. Good that I was going to see where it is. After that
I followed them on Twitter and I started getting e-mails to know which
streets were going to be cleaned.
So, this is the way our trip and our first days here passed. We got a bit
thinner but quickly started gaining weight. And the most important conclusion? - The most important conclusion is: Never go on a flight without
at least one spare pair of socks in the hand luggage!

THE END

epilogue
by Diana Minkova

In September 2014, more than 6 months after our travel we wrote a let-

ter of complaint to United Airlines and we requested a reimbursement for


the unforeseen hotel expenses that we ended up having. In their answer
they explained that although their goal is to provide on-time departures,
the safety of their customers and crew was always a foremost priority.
Thay apologized for the dissatisfaction we had expressed and added that
they do not provide overnight accommodations or transportation vouchers when a flight is cancelled as a result of weather or other circumstances
beyond their control. However, we received an electronic travel certificate, which gave eache one of us a 100$ reduction of the price for a next
flight. Later I checked out the United Airline Cancellation Policies. It was
all there:
Delays or cancellations that are not within Uniteds control
For issues not within Uniteds control, such as inclement weather or air
traffic control problems, the following amenities may be offered, depending on the length of delay:
Depending upon the duration of the delay, we may offer food and beverages where available. Snack or meal vouchers may be offered in locations
where a beverage cart is not available.
If you have to stay overnight, we may be able to give you a distressed
passenger rate voucher for a nearby hotel. These discounted rates, when
available, will often be lower than those you would receive if you were to
contact the hotel directly. Your accommodations will be at your own expense.
Well, if we were not at the end of the line we could have had a hotel arranged for us, even if it was at our own expense. I consider that oversight
a mistake. I also wanted to find out why didnt they transfere us to another airport and airline earlier.

Sometimes, the next available United flight may not be for several
hours or even days. When your trip is severely delayed, these alternatives may be available to you:
Stand by for flights. When youve been rebooked on a later flight because no seats are available on the next flight, you may request to stand
by on that earlier flight for no charge. If seats become available, well begin clearing standby customers approximately 15 minutes before departure. If you do not get a seat, please allow time for the flight to depart. At
that time, you will be placed on the standby list for the next flight or you
may request additional assistance.
Using another airport. Flights into or out of nearby airports may be
available. Although typically we wont be able to provide ground transportation or re-route your checked bags, switching to another airport could
reduce your delay.
Using another airline. When United has delayed or canceled a flight due
to reasons such as certain mechanical problems, and you are going to be
delayed more than two hours, we will try to book you on another airline
with which we have an agreement for rebooking. When the delay or cancellation is due to something beyond our control, such as weather or air
traffic control problems, we typically do not rebook customers on other
airlines.
Rescheduling your trip. If your flight is delayed two hours or more, and
youd rather postpone or cancel, please let us know, and we may waive
any change penalties that may apply to your ticket.
Not being informed about our rights, options and obligations and assuming that everithing will be fine was a mistake. Our lack of information
added a lot to the stress.