Al Andaluz, Flying home, April 3

Pat Gibson
3 min readApr 18, 2024


The cut-leaf daisies welcomed me home. (Engelmannia peristenia, a Texas wildflower.)

April 2 had finally arrived. It was time to go home.

After spending a month guiding me around select cities of Spain, David decided I needed help with my return trip. I didn’t argue because I have never flown into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). I also was told there were some new steps to get through customs and I would have to retrieve my suitcase and re-check it. So, getting on the plane in Madrid, I had an escort and a wheelchair. If you need it when you arrive, you have to have it when you embark.

It was not a problem until I got to DFW. To begin with, every one of the staff who were pushing me around after I got off the plane were in my face. They expected a tip. Since I did not have any loose money, American or EU, I could not hand it out. Tipping is not common in Spain and may insult some who provide services to you.

After getting pushed to get my suitcase then recheck the suitcase, we had to go through TSA security check even though we had not left the airport. While at the security check point, we could only process two wheelchairs at a time. The staff said the fire marshal only allowed them to have two wheelchairs in the screening area at once. This slowed the process down quite a bit since there were at least eight wheelchairs.

Once cleared by TSA, we left to find the gate for my final flight. Several women of my age group, some with serious infirmities, were gathered and asked to climb onto an electric vehicle. It carries six passengers and a driver. It is also high clearance. You have to literally climb onto the edge and turn to sit down. It is not easy to do if you are somewhat stiff from a nine-hour flight so imagine how it would be if you walked with a cane or have other mobility issues. I did pretty well, but some of the other women struggled.

We got on the cart and off we went to the elevators. At the elevator, we all had to get off the cart and stand in the elevator as we went up a floor. I found this puzzling because the elevator was large enough to hold the cart without us disembarking. When we got to the next floor, we found there was a new cart to climb up on to. We did this three times, each floor we dropped off one or two of the passengers, but the carts were not allowed into the elevators. I wondered, since the elevators were obviously made to accommodate the carts, if the fire marshal had decreed this like was done at the TSA. I will never know but one wonders.

After a long wait, and a fight to stay awake, our flight to Austin boarded and we made the quick flight. Again, I had to get in a wheelchair, but it was nice because I was taken down the elevators and to the front of the line to get my suitcase. The plane was early, but Mary arrived, and we walked out to wait for John. I was home and my Spanish adventure was over.

What a wonderful birthday present!



Pat Gibson

A fan of Liad, Valdemar, Pern, and Narnia, I am a writer, an educator, and a thinker.