Monday, December 19, 2011

To Fly or Not to Fly?

I wrote earlier about our attempts to get our baby to fly to her own christening one year ago (see the post 'Fly, Baby, Fly'). Arranging the birth certificate, Finnish citizenship and passport really took some effort and quite a lot of paper work!

To our relief, the passport was granted fast. The Finnish consulate in Luxembourg received the passport on Monday, and we were going to fly to Finland on the following Friday. As Herr Welle was traveling (again...) and I didn't want to make another road trip with our baby, we asked to send us the passport. First, we asked if they could send it via courier, but for some reason that wasn't an option. The consulate promised to send it as a signed letter. Although a bit worried, we though it would be delivered in time. Even though the consulate is located in another country, Luxembourg is only 200 km from Wiesbaden. So how long could it take?

I had calculated that the passport should arrive on Wednesday. When it didn't, I asked about the number of the signed letter from the consulate. According to the tracking information, the letter had been processed at Frankfurt post hub earlier that day. Yes, the passport was so close!

To our horror, the snowstorm of the century hit Frankfurt just during that week. I tried not to worry when I saw some news about how post started to pile in the post offices due to the snow. Surely they would favor signed letters over Christmas cards?

Thursday passed. No postman. I even stood by the door phone while I was boiling water, so that I wouldn't miss the ring. But there was no one at the door.

The main character of all the fuss had no idea what was happening...
I found the number for customer service of Deutsche Post from internet and started to call around. As the letter was sent from Luxembourg Post, the tracking was not as easy as with letter send within Germany. But finally I had someone on the phone telling me that it was STILL in the Frankfurt post hub. It hadn't moved an inch closer Wiesbaden since the day before! But they assured me that it would be delivered the following day. Phew!

So it was Friday. Our flight was planned to depart in the evening, so we would still have time to get the passport with the afternoon post. Our post is usually delivered around noon. Around 1 pm. I finally started to panic. I called again to Deutsche Post and spoke with a lady, who had probably talked with thousands of unsatisfied customers during that week due to the delays caused by the snowstorms. So I don't blame her sounding bored, but I was desperate! She assured me, that there were no way we could get the letter. That there were millions of letters there in the post hub, so even if the hub was located by the airport, we couldn't just stop by and get the letter.

Fortunately, Herr Welle is able to think more rationally in these situations. He made a call to the consulate and things started to look brighter. The officer at the consulate called the airline, which we were about to use, and explained our situation. She even provided us with a scan of a very official looking document, in which all the information of our baby's passport were stated.

Thankfully, we were flying with Finnair (Finnish airline), both Herr Welle and me are Finnish citizens, we were flying to Finland and as a whole family. I appreciate the fact that the regulations of flying with children are so strict, but I'm happy that the crew at the airline recognized that the chances that we were kidnaping the baby were very low, and they accepted our baby to the aircraft without her passport!

But the excitement didn't end there. As it was still snowing a lot, many flights, for example all Lufthansa flights, were cancelled. Fortunately, our flight was only delayed for an hour. And we even got an empty seat booked between Herr Welle and me, so we were able to place our baby there in her car seat.

Thanks to the nice lady at the Luxembourg consulate and the flexibility of Finnair, we were able to have our baby christened in Finland on the following Sunday as planned!

If you are wondering, how we got back to Germany, we did not need to have such a fuss over it. Herr Welle wrote a proxy to his colleague, who picked the letter up from our local post office and brought it with him to their mutual meeting in Finland.

Flying back home

Tomorrow we will be flying to Finland for the holidays, so it might be a bit more quiet here in my blog. I hope there will be no snowstorm tonight, and our journey to Finland will be less exciting this year!

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