Often, there is a silver lining to a grey cloud. In this instance, being stuck in an airport with a faulty WiFi hotspot, the silver lining is that I have time to read my WSET coursebook and write blog entries instead of surfing the interweb and wasting time.
The big grey chunk is that I have a heap of time to waste.
In the event of flight delays and missed connections, I try to keep a stiff upper lip and laugh about the cosmic injustice of it all. As increasing obstacles block my meandering and the cloud goes from grey to positively dark and thunderous, this sunny disposition begins to become an occluded front. That metaphor sounds a lot like it makes sense in theory, feel free to disabuse me of the notion if I’m wrong.
In a rather pleasant twist, I’m managed to smuggle myself two rows forward and out of cattle, in to premier. Okay, so it’s a BAe 146 (or Avro RJ-85) rather a 747, so the difference is negligible, but at this point in my day, I’ll take what I can get.
“How did you get here, five hours delayed and run around like a carousel?” I hear you pointedly not ask. Well, they don’t call it Air Chance for nothing.
Boarding went smoothly, although (crucial plot point here) my hand baggage was ‘green tagged’ and placed in the hold; I settled in to my somewhat cramped but not uncomfortable seat, letting my eyes droop in spite of the small fractious child making baby-is-uncomfortable-and-bored noises. Every small movement of the aircraft fooled my senses into thinking we had just pushed back and all was well. This was not, as it happened, the case.
After some indeterminate time (and irritated shifting as said fractious waif continued caterwauling) the announcement came that there was something wrong with one of the computer systems aboard the aircraft, and they would make a decision in the next 20 minutes as to whether we would fly.
Point one. If you say 20 minutes, please do not mean 60. 60 is a lot longer than 20. I would rather know you meant 60. Point two. When you say ‘make a decision as to whether we would fly’ and actually mean ‘whether we are able to fly’, as they are subtly different, use the appropriate phrase. Above all, don’t keep us hanging.
It was all downhill from there. Our wait lengthened, information became confused, and eventually we were told a part was being flown up from London and would arrive in an hour and a half, and so until all was well we would have to disembark, our luggage would be returned to us at the gate where we had boarded if it had been green tagged.
The messages we were given were somewhat confusing at this point. I was able to deduce that we should disembark, wait at the gate and we would be rebooked on to other flights as possible with the intention of those who had connections being prioritised to minimise impact. As it transpires this what not wholly inaccurate, but it wasn’t quite right either. The next flight was fully booked, but our flight was not actually cancelled, instead it was delayed while it was repaired, though this didn’t become clear until we were back in the airside terminal.
Confusion aside, all might have been well, but for one rather glaring error. Unfortunately for me, the trolleyboys (their words, not mine) who were supposed to be taking our luggage the 10 metres from the aircraft to where we were waiting failed spectacularly, and instead took it groundside to baggage reclaim. Having done so, after a 30 minute wait where we were told repeatedly that it was on its way to us, we now had to go groundside to get it.
This meant repeating security, which was a pain, but not a particularly colossal one. Except that it was. On marching back up to security I was rebuffed, despite being told by staff that I could just whip back on through; once your boarding card has been torn, you need a new one to get through. They can’t re-issue at check-in, you have instead to queue with all the people who have to cancel and rebook their connections at the Ticket Sales desk. This creates a very long wait.
By which point, my sunny disposition has gone thunderous, through the other side, and into fatalist humour. Finally, thankfully, the Air France and Servisair team get it together and fast track those of us needing re-issues, and after Securité: Part Deux (or is it technically Trois?), I’m through, and ensconced at the gate once more. Scotty has hit the warp drive with a tricorder, it turns out the engines can take it after all, we re-embark (minus a good few who have made alternative arrangements) and I sneak in to the comfy chairs up front.
Glass of white regional french vin, Nescafe instant and a blueberry muffin. Who says there aren’t perks to this life? I mean, the muffin scares the hell out of me (I don’t even want to think about all the hydrogenated oils, E numbers and fake fats holding it together), but the important thing is I’m going to get to CDG after all.
Meanwhile, my Mother has cemented her position in my mind as THE BEST PA IN THE WORLD. Having informed her of my situation (she awaits me in France, and my Dad will just have to enjoy the connection to Pau without me), she called Air France and persuaded them to reserve me a seat on the 20.45 to Pau from CDG. All is well.
Well, aside from the proposition of a six-or-seven hour wait in French Domestic Departures. I recall some quite comfy chairs with convenient power sockets; silver lining, right?
NB. The very fact that you are reading this indicates either a) They have fixed the WiFi, or b) J’arrive dans le Maison Ecossaise dans le Pyrenees. Either way, all is probably now Tres Bien. If it is not, after a glass of wine, it will be.
PS. Ended up posting this on return to UK. Let’s just say I… err… got distracted.