On some level, it was probably our own fault. We were so excited to finally just book our honeymoon, we forgot to verify the smaller details. After all, we knew we had a flight home; did it really matter how long the layover was?
As it turns out, yes. Yes, it did.
Our first flight from Paris to Nice left at ten p.m. Pros: A full last day in Paris. Cons: Well…getting to that.
Because even though we would arrive in Nice at about 11:30 p.m., closer examination of our tickets made it clear we would not be leaving Nice until 10:30 a.m. the next morning. Rookie mistake.
Now, in many airports this would not be a problem. Round-the-clock flights ensure that there’s always a bar it coffee shop open, along with a veritable cornacopia of vending machines. We’d spend the night at the airport.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, we did try to switch to an earlier layover. But the oh-so-charming Air France people are sticklers about not making any changes ever without paying $250 per ticket. A fact which led to two maddening conversations in which I hung up on two people. But I digress…
The special thing about the Nice airport, though, is that the last flight rolls in at 11:30 p.m. And after that, dear readers, the joint shuts down.
As in, you are literally locked into the check-in area, every store is closed, and there aren’t even accessible vending machines.
I’m honestly surprised the bathrooms were left unlocked. Clearly we were the only people who didn’t know this, because it was just us and the security guards for the long stretch til morning.
Hungry, exhausted, and a little homesick, we managed to get about two hours of sleep between the two of us, curled up on the only bench that didn’t have metal arm rests between each seat.
Around 5 in the morning, other people started to arrive for flights. Desperate to get into the terminal where we presumed there had to be at least a water fountain, we tried to get through security with the boarding passes they had given us in Paris.
But oh nooo, eet eez too early, you need to go to Delta desk.
Fun fact: The Nice Delta desk doesn’t open until 7:35 a.m. Not 7:30. Not 7:34. Seven thirty-five.
The only saving grace was that a couple food stands opened around 6:30, otherwise it may have gotten ugly.
After a brief snafu with our luggage (“Did you peek up your bags een between flights?” “No, they told us not to in Paris.” “Oh la la….”), we were on the flight. Well, sort of.
It could be that we seemed suspicious because our flights were on separate days or because we had slept in the airport, but for whatever reason, the Delta staff determined we were intimidating enough to search (thoroughly) three separate times. Once in Paris, regular security in Nice, and then a pat-down and second carry-on search at the gate.
At that point, I wasn’t even mad. I had reached the “bring it on” stage of airport madness.
The only funny thing about the whole ordeal was that the French airport attendants thought Joey’s last name was hilarious. They kept saying it in funny voices, then winking at me (obviously my French name made me privy to their jokes…) before walking off chortling to themselves. We never quite figured that one out. I mean, his last name is really Italian…but the joke possibilities kind of die there. Oh, cultural gaps.
So, an eight-hour flight (gag), four in-air movies, and two rather tasty airplane meals later, we were home.
Lesson learned: If you want airport people to be nice to you, marry a funny Italian.