Pope’s Return from Trip to Latin America Delayed by Multiple Connections, Delays
ROME – Pope Benedict XVI’s return to the Vatican after a week long trip to Mexico and Cuba was delayed by almost twenty-four hours due to a series of oversold flights, multiple connections and passport issues.
In keeping with the teachings of Jesus, the Pope has always committed himself to a life of poverty and humility, which is why he always chooses to fly in coach class and stay in discount hotels, like the masses.
Benedict’s trip began like any of the other journeys to meet parishioners around the world. He took a cab from his small Vatican apartment to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino airport, where he began his multi-leg trip to Mexico City.
The Pope traveled light, wheeling his bag through security and customs, where he had little difficulty. His trip took him to Frankfurt, Germany, before continuing on to New York, Miami, and finally Mexico City. After a long trip, he was able to rest in his Mexico City Holiday Inn before preaching to the masses and speaking with the Mexican President the following day.
The Pope’s journey then took him to Cuba, where he refused an offer by Cuban President Raul Castro to stay at the Presidential residence and instead chose to sleep on a couch offered by Maria Ernesta, a Havana resident.
“I offered my couch to the local Catholic Church, knowing that the Pope was coming. I never thought they’d take me up on the offer, but it was a pleasant surprise,” explained Ernesta. “The best part was that my husband Jose always made fun of me for keeping a set of nice hand towels that we never used. He’d say, ‘What, are they just for the Pope?’ Well now who looks stupid, Jose?”
After his visit to Havana, the Pope’s journey back home was far more arduous. Due to travel restrictions in place by the United States, the Pope was forced to take a more circuitous return. First, he flew back to Mexico City, and from there he was supposed to board a flight that would take him directly to Rome.
However, upon arriving in Mexico City, he learned that his next flight had been overbooked. Gate agents attempted to raffle off coupons to those that would re-book, but they were still unable to find the pontiff a seat. Instead, he was re-booked on a flight to Denver that would then go to Newark and finally Rome.
His new connection in the United States meant that the Pope would have to go through security administered by the TSA. The agents scrutinized the leader of the Catholic Church, and found his passport to be suspicious, claiming that “Pope, The” was not his real name. Benedict was taken to a separate room for further questioning, where he was grilled for over an hour. TSA agents were finally satisfied that Benedict did not pose a security risk, through they advised he change his passport to read “Ratzinger, Joseph” to avoid further confusion.
The Pope was then free to board his flight, which went smoothly – after the five-hour delay on the tarmac at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.