Back in the UAE

With summer vacation coming to an end, I start another year in the UAE. I would like to say it is another year just like the previous years, but it isn’t. At the start of the previous years, there was some normalcy and calmness with getting back to routine after a long summer break. Not this year.

This year has been all kinds of wrong right from the start. For one, I flew back during the time that Delta had its computer “glitch”. This led to a stressful start with flights being delayed and changed. This was on top of the fact that I was not flying with Kassandra since she stayed in the US to begin university classes. During the entire journey back to the UAE, I just kept feeling like I was missing something or forgetting to do something. Umm… yes, I was missing my daughter. It made for a really long trip feel a thousand times longer.

Then when I got to Dubai, my baggage wasn’t there. I don’t know if it got lost in the hubbub of the flight changes, or if it was intentionally off-loaded in Amsterdam because KLM has a policy of off-loading baggage if your entire party isn’t present. Kassandra’s ticket was canceled in Portland, and her seat was even reassigned, but maybe that didn’t matter. What ever the reason, my two suitcases were nowhere to be found. Two weeks later and they are still nowhere to be found. I don’t really understand that. Isn’t everything tracked electronically?

KLM has been horrible about giving me information. All they will do is say “messages have been sent to the airports, but we haven’t received back a response.” What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that the airports in question (Portland, Amsterdam, Dubai) have looked for my bags and haven’t found them? Or does it meant that they haven’t even looked and that’s why they haven’t responded? And if these airports don’t have them, what are the other possibilities? I had my friend (thank you Kate) go check the Portland airport. They aren’t there. Are they in Amsterdam? Are they in some other random airport? The fact that it is both of them, makes me believe it wasn’t just a bag being misplaced.

In theory, last week, my file was escalated so they could begin the compensation process. Despite my numerous emails and calls, I haven’t heard from the escalation department. All of this means that I am stuck without clothes, makeup, shoes…. basically everything. Everyone keeps reassuring me that the bags will be found or if nothing else, I will get compensated for them. I  was bringing the stuff in my suitcases from the US because I can’t get it in the UAE, or if I can get it in the UAE, it is at a significantly higher price. For example, the birthday gift for my son was $92 in the US. To re-buy the same thing in Dubai will cost me $177 (and a 2 hour drive). The specific Clinique lotion that I bought three bottles of to bring back with me, isn’t sold in the Middle East. How can I just magically replace the earrings that my husband just bought me for our one year wedding anniversary? These facts seem lost on everyone.  I am tired of calling KLM. I am frustrated by the lack of response. I am annoyed that they just keep telling me that they are really behind schedule. I don’t really give a f***. Find my baggage! Process my claim. Do something! And if  the escalation department is really 2,500 emails behind, which is what I was told, then KLM has a serious problem with losing luggage. Maybe that needs to be addressed at a larger level. I spend thousands and thousands of dollars with Delta/KLM every year for my family to fly back to the US. I promise you now… I will fly Emirates to go home this year. I don’t care if it will cost me a couple hundred dollars more a ticket. I don’t want to ever give KLM my business again.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the chaos hasn’t gotten any better. My husband and I are still dealing with custody issues for the boys with a court hearing just a few days after we got back. If you have never dealt with the legal system in the UAE, you should be relieved. Court is never easy. Custody issues are especially stressful. Add on top of it that the legal system is in a language that we can’t understand, and you can start to understand our frustration. Just when I thought I have figured out Arab culture, the legal system here has reminded me that I don’t have a freaking clue. One day, maybe after I have left the country for good, I will write a blog post about the legal system. For now, my advice is to avoid it at all costs.

Then comes work which started August 14. The kids don’t go back to school until August 28. Last year, this wasn’t as much of a problem because we had Kassandra to watch after the boys. This year, it has been two weeks of juggling our schedules. I am starting to feel like we are running a relay race as we hand off the children to each other between classes. Oh plus my work flash drive was in my suitcase, so that has just taken extra time to get back up and running.

I haven’t had a chance to even purchase new clothes (plus I had been living in denial that the airline would actually find my bags), so I have been trying to make my limited wardrobe of 2 skirts, 2 shirts, and 1 bra work. Thank goodness that it is still hot enough that my clothes dry at a fast pace. My student promise that they can’t remember what I wore the day before, so it is okay.

Then I had to deal with HR issues at work. I assumed that since they had given us “married” housing over a year ago that meant we were all square with giving them proof of marriage. Well, I thought wrong. They don’t like the marriage license we gave them. They insist it was only a marriage application with an expiration date. Unfortunately,  my authenticated version of the marriage license is in the US (which looks exactly the same as the notarized marriage license I gave them, except the authenticated version has gone through the Secretary of State and has John Kerry’s signature on a front page authenticating that it is a legal document). Again, I thought this was all taken care of. So, now the authenticated version is being mailed (thank you Kate). In the meantime, HR is suspending certain benefits until we can provide them with it. And yet, after 14 months, they still haven’t been able to get around to changing the utilities into my name which means every month I have to go pay in person and have the utility representative lecture me about it not being in my name and threaten to turn off the power. Good to know that HR has their priorities.

I am an emotional mess. The stress of everything going on is hard enough to handle, but add in the fact that Kassandra isn’t here, and it makes me want to throw in the towel and just go home. I can’t say it is harder than I expected without her here because I knew it would be hard. Pure and simple, it hurts and I miss her. I know parents go through this when their kids go away to university. And I know in time, it will get easier. I get it. I just wish we were at least in the same time zone. All I can do to make it more bearable is count down the days until she visits for the winter holiday…. and she won’t be flying in on KLM.

Thanks for listening to me vent. The fun, easy-going me will be back to regular programming and normal blog posts as soon as I have some clothes to wear.

 

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This entry was posted in Al Ain, Arab Culture, the UAE, the United States and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Back in the UAE

  1. Diya says:

    I’m so sorry to read this. Sounds like it has been a harrowing time for you. Sending you wishes that things resolve themselves soon! At the very least go shopping. A little retail therapy works wonders 😉

  2. Grandpa Johnny says:

    Please let Elaine and I shop for things you can’t get there and mail them to you.
    We want to help some way.

    • Tori says:

      18 days later and I am still hoping they will find my suitcases. I just keep thinking that if I re-buy something, then the suitcases will be returned and I will be stuck with duplicates. Plus I know shipping costs are ridiculous, so I am trying to hold off and doing any of that yet. However, once I give up hope, I may take you up on your offer especially as we get closer to the boys’ birthdays, I may have to break down and re-buy their presents if my suitcases are never found. Thank you!

  3. Cherie Cole says:

    Sorry you’re going through all of this. I enjoy your blog and found it on a random search when I was joining my husband in the UAE a couple years ago. I have since relocated back to the US, however he is still there. Lives in Dubai, works in Al Ain. I am actually flying out Saturday for 10 days to visit him. Emirates! I would highly recommend flying Emirates! Sorry about your luggage and hope they find it soon. Also, I moved two daughters into college and it’s never easy, at first. It gets better. Hang in there!

    • Tori says:

      You don’t hear of many people living in Dubai and working in Al Ain – usually it is the other way around 🙂

      Thank you for your message. Yes, my boycott with KLM has begun and I plan on flying Emirates home next year. It will be more expensive, but at least it will be a straight shot from Dubai to Seattle so less of a chance for baggage to be lost.

      Thank you. 🙂

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