Friday, November 2, 2018

Getting home: it can sometimes take an eternity

We manage to arrive early at the airport.  Rather than wait three hours for our flight we decide to try and get on an earlier departure.  This will depend on our ticket type and whether there are seats available, preferably together.

We line up in the service queue, which by its very description means you have a long wait as service is mostly between difficult to impossible depending on the request.  We wait for twenty minutes.

There's a long queue behind us.  Our request is taken care of quickly and efficiently making it almost seamless, certainly painless.  I'm sure our request was one of the very few easy ones the staff will get.

Today it seems it is our lucky day.

The transfer to an earlier flight is free and there are two seats available together.  All we have to do is alert the pickup driver at our destination we are going to be an hour earlier.  Done.

Checking in bags is usually the bane of the traveler's existence.  No matter which airport in whatever country you are departing from the only difference is the length of the queue; from incredibly long with a half hour wait to the head of the line to up to an hour.

Our queue is 15 to 20 minutes.

One assumes this is why intending passengers are asked to go to the airport two hours ahead of their fight.  There are times of the day where the queues are horrendous, and that not only applies to Heathrow.

And if you are late, just panic.

And if your bags are overweight be prepared to have your credit card hammered.  Especially if you're flying Air France from Venice to Paris.

Now it’s time to relax.  There is an hour before we have to be at the gate so just enough time to get coffee and a donut.

And be horrified at what shops charge for simple items like sandwiches.  I think $10 is very expensive.  But if you're hungry and forgot to eat before getting to the airport then be prepared to pay more than you usually would for the same fare.

It's also time to observe our fellow passengers, and there is always one who has a last minute dash for a plane that is just about to leave, passengers with panic-stricken looks.  We all know what happens if you miss the flight even as you're downing that last cocktail in the airline lounge while thinking, yes they'll hold the flight for me!

Apparently not, these days, because airlines want to keep their 'on time' record.

Even so, there's still three more calls for the missing passengers and then nothing.  If they missed the plane their problems are just beginning.  It's the same feeling you have when your name is called out before the flight starts loading.  Only once have we been called up and given an upgrade, and once in the US to be told we could take another flight because our flight was overbooked.  Business class was greatly appreciated and was worth the extra hour we had to wait.

The next bottleneck is the scanners and sometimes the queue here is very long and moving slowly because the scanners are set to pick up belts and shoes so people are scattered everywhere getting redressed and putting shoes on.  Today being a weekday the queue is not so bad.

Loading is painless and reasonably organized except when the passengers in high numbered rows try to board by the front door instead of the rear door and clash midway in the plane.  After they untangle themselves and get to their seats we're ready to go.

This flight still has the manual safety demonstration which most people ignored but is slightly better than the video demonstration.  Let’s hope we don't go down over the water.  I've charted my path to the emergency exit and l have quite a few people before me.  I guess there's more than one way to be last off the plane.

Sometimes you get to pick who you get to sit next to, especially if you are traveling with your partner which this time I am, but in a three-seat arrangement you have no control over who takes that third seat.  We are lucky this time because it will not become a tight squeeze but unfortunately, our fellow traveler has a cold and in a confined space for several hours it could turn out to be a problem.

But, in the end, the flight is smooth, the snacks edible.  Unfortunately, there is no liquor service like the full-service rival but that might be a good thing.

No air rage on this flight.

Time flies, pardon the pun, and we have arrived.  Even though it took forever for the baggage to be delivered we still got home early.

Until the next time we fly.

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