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Coming to America

Exchange student has rough first flight to USA

September 20, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville News

The first time a person flies, there are a number of things that could go through his mind - usually having to do with crashes. And then there are flight delays of course.

But 27 hours?

That's how long Dorde Komlen was delayed on his flight from Belgrade to Minneapolis. Dorde, a high-school exchange student staying with Mark and Sara More, was bumped from several flights between Belgrade and Minneapolis, leaving the Mores wondering when - and maybe if - he was going to reach his destination.

Article Photos

After 27 hours of flight delays, Dorde Komlen arrived safe and sound at the Minneapolis airport where he was met by his host family, Mark and Sara More. He joins Doris Van Der Laan, an exchange student from the Netherlands, in the More home for the next year. From left are Mark and Sara More, Van Der Laan, Maddie More, Komlen and Logan More.
Photo by Michael Tidemann

The first problem came in the Zurich, Switzerland airport when his plane landed 10 minutes before his scheduled connection. There were no signs where to go, and he missed his flight. When he went to the ticket booth, he got a ticket only to New York, not his destination.

So after spending the night in a hotel, Dorde was told he would have to pay the difference for his New York-Minneapolis connection. He went back to where he received the wrong ticket and had a new ticket issued.

After landing in New York - and having plenty of time - he was pulled off the plane and told he would be put on a faster flight. The flight was overbooked, of course.

He was then sent from JFK to La Guardia, with the taxi leaving his off at the wrong building. Finally, finally he arrived in Minneapolis, having just six hours of sleep in two days.

The debacle could have been more overwhelming. Dorde was part of a group 10 from Serbia going to New York. "We had fun," he remarked, remembering it all. One of his group even made a movie about it.

If anything, the Mores were more frantic than Dorde. Sara said they had no way to communicate with him since the airlines wouldn't tell them anything. They had planned on meeting Dorde 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 but didn't meet up with him until 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3. And oh. The airline issued Dorde a $1,300 check - CASH - for his trouble.

The Mores' other guest exchange student - Doris Van Der Laan, came from the Netherlands to New York City where her group spent three days. Apparently without nearly the flight complications Dorde had, of course.

Now that he's settled in with the Mores, Dorde is in cross-country at ELC while Doris is in cheerleading and drill team. She played tennis extensively in Holland and is looking forward to picking up the racket for ELC next spring.

Dorde attended a civil engineering high school in Serbia while Doris found school more difficult in Holland.



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