We felt so very lucky that we had enough frequent flyer miles for be able to book a flight home in Business Class via Munich. We left so early, we couldn't have breakfast at the hotel, but the Business Class lounge in Rome provided the hospitality we have come to expect. When we booked the flight, the layover in Germany was adequate, but the airline changed the schedule twice and the interval grew smaller. And the Italians are not noted for punctuality. Sure enough, our departure from Rome was delayed and we lost the gate when we arrived in Munich. But when you are in Business Class you are the first off the plane and the Munich airport, while huge, was well marked. We arrived two minutes before boarding started. A bit close, but better than two minutes after it was closed.
Favorable winds brought us back to Chicago, almost an hour early. Our friend who planned to pick us up, was already out and about in his car and quickly turned toward O'Hare. Business class status meant our bags were first off the carousel and we got through immigration using the new scanners without standing in any lines. We walked out the terminal door and there was our friend. Pretty slick!
The news has been full of one atrocious story after another, describing how airline customer service has sunk to ever low lows. As we relished our lah-di-dah status one last time, it made us appreciate even more the perks that made this long journey as pleasant as possible. And we look back over this long and varied trip with joy, relishing the chance to revisit southeast Asia, which we knew we loved and learning about Arab culture, an unfamiliar culture which we had learned to fear. That's why we travel - there's nothing like seeing it with your own eyes.