My quartet hits airport cello blockademain
From our weekend diarist, Anthea Kreston of the Artemis Quartet:
We have all been reading the stories about trouble travelling with instruments. Somehow, with my small bullet-case, an over-the-shoulder strap, and a scarf covering my strap from the front, I have escaped any problems. A big smile, confident carriage, and a way of agreeing first with any airport personnel, then attentively and patiently listening as the work out the solution has taken me this far without fail.
As I write now, I am covered in a thick patina (wait – isn’t a patina by definition thin?) of sweaty film, looking out the window of our flight from Cincinnati to Toronto. The cello, today’s culprit, sits scroll down, across from the aisle from me. It is 11:03, and our scheduled flight of 10:50 has just begun to taxi.
Why the sweat? Today as we showed up for checkin, there was, for some reason, an inability to track the cello ticket which was purchased for this flight. The 6 digit code would not produce any results, last names either – and they reported that the flight had checked in full. The quartet kept its cool – each member naturally assuming a different role as things continued to unfold in a negative way, each solution proposed ending in a deadlock.
We are flying Air Canada, and somehow the checkin staff seems lethargic, uncreative and defeatist. I want to say – “come on, Chelsey, Jennifer – we can do this!!”, but I fear this would have a negative reaction. The quartet splits up – at this point they said we would not make the plane in any case. Vineta ran ahead, able to go through security with her gold status, and worked the gate to hold the flight. Gregor was furiously typing to get any more details about the ticket. I tried to check in the cello on-line while Eckart was on the phone to Germany with Bruno, our mad-genius travel agent.
As the minutes ticked by – now 20 minutes to take-off – Gregor has run ahead to go through as Eckart and I try our last ditch efforts. I am checking alternative flights – nothing is available – and also drive time (now 10:38, and 8:00 concert in Toronto, and a drive time of 8:27). We realize we must run – they can only hold the flight so long!
We run to security, and into the TSA pre-check. I politely, with flushed cheeks and a pant, explained how I am traveling with a famous cellist – there is a concert tonight – can we go ahead? Everyone lets us go to the front of the line, but of course we do not have TSA pre-check – it was just a trick to get us to the front. The person lets us cut to the front of the regular line, and we take off our shoes and coats in motion as we head to the conveyor belt. The person in front of us says – “please go ahead – anything for a cello!” and somehow we are through.
Vineta and Gregor have held the plane as long as they can – but still the situation remains – no ticket has been found and the cello is heading for a dire fate of gate-check purgatory. We skip the train and run – no time to wait. Thank goodness Vineta has been keeping us (our group of three – Vineta, myself and Eckart) on track during the tour – running her own version of High Interval Intensity Training sessions for us – run, sprint, bursts of push-ups and ab work, and I have added some kick-boxing manoeuvres to the routine.
We make it to the gate as we see Gregor getting on the plane – we are the last ones. Sometimes, when you are really late, and exhausted, and you do the series or spring/run/long-legged walk to get to your destination, you realize at the end that every movement you made was utterly necessary. If I hadn’t run up that last escalator, or ditched re-tying my shoes, I would not have made it. Every little push is integral to the goal.
So we make it – and as we do, they say – we will let you board – you can take the cello. Oh my goodness. Unbelievable. My breathing has calmed, my cheeks still burn with exertion, but we are here. All four of us.