David J. Danto


Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion




eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org      Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD           


The Zone – May 2023


Why We Still Love The Twilight Zone - JSTOR Daily  I’m traveling through another dimension - a dimension not only of sight and sound and mind, but also one of international cooperation. That’s my port up ahead – Barcelona – squarely in the Schengen Zone.

As I’ve said many times in my prior blogs, I’m a domestic US travel warhorse, but an international novice (at least compared to my JoeSentMe colleagues.)  I learned something new today that many of you may already know – but I didn’t.  I believe it’s worth detailing for others that may not know.  (And it feels better to believe that I’m not the only stupid one.)

I made it to Europe a few days earlier through a driving rain.  My flight to Athens, Greece was only delayed by about an hour (as ~50% of the domestic flights this past Sunday were cancelled by the rain.)  Of course, my checked luggage arrived soaked-through with rainwater – because when United ramp workers see lightening they stop and leave everything right where it is – even if that’s in a soaking rain (but I suppose that’s another story.)  After a week of work in Athens, and hearing that my wife successfully made it to Barcelona for our cruise, I flew Aegean air to meet her.

I bid on and won an upgrade to first on this flight, but on this route / aircraft, that didn’t mean much.  It was an A320 that had an up-front section with standard coach 3-3 seating, but the center seat had a tray on it and is not used.  Whoopee – first class on Star Alliance now means they block the center seat – something any elite traveler could just ask for 20 or so years ago.  The meal service however was top notch for a 2.5 hour flight.

Landing in Barcelona I was stunned that I didn’t have to schlep to passport control as I have my past trips here (and my wife had to a day earlier.)  Flying inside the Schengen Zone meant that I could avoid that step and just go to get my checked bags.  I didn’t know this before.  I was relieved not to have to lose those 60-90 minutes in Barcelona as I have in the past (and my wife had just done.)   

Proceeding to the display to find where my bags would come out.  I was distressed that I couldn’t find a flight from Athens.  There was Newark and Paris and a ton of other international cities, but no Athens.  After about a half hour of panicking I realized I should look by flight code and number…and there it was as plain as day – “Atenas.”  I perhaps should have realized quicker to look for it in a local language, but as all the other cities seemed to be fine it took a while to dawn on me (but not nearly as long as it took for the bags to come out onto the carousel – again, another story, just don’t check bags to Barcelona if you can avoid it – they make Newark look quick.)

During my panic I was worrying that I was let out into the wrong place.  By missing passport control I must have been separated from where my bags were going.  All that worry was for nothing – according to the signpost I must have missed up-ahead I had just left Atenas and entered Barcelona – squarely in the Schengen Zone



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Also as I write this, the WHO just declared that the COVID health emergency is over.  I hope the virus pays attention and agrees.  One of my friends just posted on social media “as you were” and I commented “plus or minus a few million people.”  It was quite the episode to live through (and many are still not over it yet) but as they say, it’s better than the alternative.




This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.

All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.

Copyright 2023 David Danto


As always, feel free to write and comment, question or disagree.  Hearing from the traveling community is always a highlight for me.  Thanks!