As my wife and I rushed through Heathrow Airport in London, we were gripped with the panic that accompanies those who are certain they will not make their connecting flight.
Would a later flight still give us time to board our long ship for the river cruise from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam? Was our dream of cruising the Rhine through Central Europe about to become a memory that never happened?
Just then I felt someone tapping me on the shoulder. I had noticed the young man passing by me moments earlier, glancing down at my bright red baggage tags.
“Viking?” he asked. I had been moving so fast that I could only nod my acknowledgement.
“Are you on to Basel?” he inquired, and this time I managed an audible, “Yes, thank you.”
“You must have missed your connection.” He glanced at his watch. “There’s a British Airways flight that will get you there. We can tell the ship you’ll be a little later. Can I help you with that?”
“Please,” I said. “Absolutely.”
My heart rate was beginning to get back to normal, but the young man could see we were red faced and so he took the largest of my bags and one from my wife. He led us back down the concourse a few yards and turned into a passageway that opened to a row of British Airways ticket counters.
He greeted the agent, told her our problem and even had the number of the flight to Basel. While the agent ticketed us, the young man stood to the side, speaking on his cell phone.
“There,” he said as we finished. “I notified the ship and even put in a call to our concierge. Your transfer will be waiting for you in Basel and I told the concierge you’d had a rough go and maybe they could do something nice for you.”
I was stunned and couldn’t thank him enough. “Is this what you do,” I asked, “prowl the airports looking for Viking passengers to save?”
“No,” he laughed. “I’m management, on my way to Paris. Saw your Viking tags and the panic in your eyes. I missed my flight, but there will be another. Just thought it was more important to get you to your ship.”
And so we were able to begin our eight-day Rhine Getaway, with visits to the Black Forest, turreted fortresses, grand cathedrals and historic cities such as Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Koblenz, Cologne and Amsterdam as well as the medieval towns and spectacular scenery of the Middle Rhine.
For more on this river cruise and others in Europe and Asia, contact your travel agent or tour wholesaler.