Of course it needs to be painful. It just wouldn’t be right to escape the hot, dusty, putrid air of KAF without being forced to suffer just a little bit more.
We were required to attend a departure briefing at 0930 Sunday morning. This little exercise in redundancy took a bit over an hour and we were instructed to return in 12 hours. So at 2100 we gathered up our gear and trudged the 1/2-mile or so across KAF to the passenger (PAX) terminal briefing tent where most of the morning information was repeated.
After about an hour they led us to the actual PAX terminal and ran us through security…yes, the same type of security run through as they do at a regular airport in the States. Even after all these years it strikes me as a little bit silly that the US Air Force runs their passenger terminals like a civilian one; except with even less friendly customer service you expect from the TSA. We are a bunch of military types getting on a military aircraft – why do I need to put my multi-tool in my checked bag but I can carry my pistol? At some point in the future I will regale you all with the ultimate silliness I experienced at the Ramstein PAX terminal going back to Bosnia several years ago.
Anyway, once through the security checkpoint we were directed to ‘any of the 3 lounges upstairs’. Please, dividing a barren concrete room, with metal chairs into 3 sections does not make them ‘lounges’. Yes, there were a couple of TV’s stuck to the walls and plenty of bottled water around, but that was it…well, except for the little bakery-type thing at one end that over-charged for a meager selection of baked goods, coffee or slushees. I was drawn to the slushees like a moth to a flame, so I paid $3 for 12 ounces of sweet, syrupy ice with a hint of peach flavor.
We were told we would be called for our flight between 0015-0115; meaning by this time, at worse, it would be a 2 hour wait. Not too badd, i can deal with that. Well, 0100 came and went with no sign of an airplane. I couldn’t take it anymore (did I mention that there was no AC, so it was hot & stuffy up there, even with the windows open?), I pulled up a piece of concrete floor to try to get some sleep.
Surprisingly I quickly fell asleep and the next thing I knew it was a little past 0500! Even more surprisingly, it wasn’t long before they actually told us it was time to board the aircraft. Things moved along quickly and by 0615 we were in the air headed west…inching ever closer to home…