Saturday, 7 September 2013

Today I...Missed My Plane

http://ifap.blogsport.de/images/plane.pngToday I must wait 14 more hours in the airport and it's safe to say I am pretty livid. This is because I missed my flight. Normally I can maintain composure and handle my rage by masking it with sarcasm or disapproving grunts and matching facial formations - but not on this occasion. Too many things swung out my favour and left me in a riled up state. I think my main problem was the lack of control I had over the situation from the start. You can't compete with unfortunate events...

I intended to arrive with an hour and a half to spare, knowing that I have to be prepared for any eventuality. The first hurdle was that the friend who was giving me a lift had a meeting at 1pm which would last approximately 30 minutes. Leaving at 1:30pm was completely fine and fit my plans perfectly. Yet, my friend was 10 minutes late for his meeting, thus they made him wait an extra 5 minutes, pushing us 15 minutes behind schedule. Then he had to fuel his vehicle, pushing us a further 15 minutes behind. I was still fairly comfortable yet something began to emerge from the depths of the darkness of my mind. A slight sound; an shimmering shadow. A minuscule alarm bell echoed. Soft and sharp. It was OK, though. No real signs of panic as of yet. The journey had not even began.

It was smooth sailing down the motorway. For half an hour, at least. Then we hit a wall of traffic. On the traffic news it told us that the congestion amassed all the way beyond the junction we had to leave for the airport. And there they were; the alarm bells. Louder. Clearer. The nerves clung to me like guilt to a whore's leg.

To cut a long story short, after a lot of detours and re-routes I arrived at the airport, checked in and began to race through the departure lounge - full bladder in tow. The monitors informed me that they were on the final call for the flight. The alarm bells in my head were blaring now; they had entered brown trousers territory. Fortunately, I got to the gate. The plane was still there with it's stairs down. I was greeted by the lady waiting at the gate, who then rang the pilot just to inform me that it was just not my day. I was fully out of luck. She told me I had to make my way back to the entrance because I couldn't get on the flight. After a bit of pleading and moments of general non-belief, I decided to stay and watch the plane depart, making the smug airline representative have to wait with me. It didn't even more for 13 minutes. This left me completely aggravated. There is no reason why I could not have got on that flight. She continued to tell me that I was around 2 minutes late. I chose not to respond as I could not find words to adequately respond. Defeated, I headed back to collect my bag which had been retrieved from inside the plane and sent into arrivals. And there I sat. Amongst a mass of passengers, looking fresh and relaxed from their vacations, sticking out like a sore thumb, miserably drowning in malevolence.

What followed was a lot of waiting and being kicked from section to section by officials who didn't seem to really understand the infrastructure of the building that they worked at. Finally re-united with my bag, my next task was to get on another flight. Fortunately, there was one the following morning in 14 hours time. There was a £60 charge for me to get on this flight, and I only had enough pounds to cover me eating in the airport. I had not considered the eventuality that I would not miss my plane. The only cash I had on me was Euros. The exchange office was next to my ticket sales desk. Already in a flustered state, I exchanged my Euros at an extortionate price. I was amazed to heard that the man working at the currency exchange did not know the exchange rate from Euros to Pounds and vice versa. This I found extremely worrying. I expected him to be more equipped, unless it is better for them not to know how much they are taking from each transaction. Let's just say, by this point, I had a face like thunder. I paid to transfer my flight. Now all I had to was wait.

In typical fashion of a writer, my state of frustration led me straight to WHSmiths to purchase a notepad and two sets of pens (on a 3 for 2 offer), and began to scribble away this very article. At this stage of my adventure, my phone has ran out of battery leaving me with no way to communicate with the outside world. Directed by staff, I found some computers that offered Internet access. I had been informed that it cost £1 for an hours access. In my current mindset, I would have comfortably parted with 5 sheets for five hours just to pass a portion of my waiting time, but 10 minutes for one of the Queen's finest seemed a bit pricey. £6 an hour was not viable in my situation. On the other hand, tt was worth taking a small risk just to send a few choice messages and to relieve a bit of frustration. So I popped in a pound and prepared myself to type against time.

A screen popped up displaying the computers parameters of us.

9:42
Social
*Click*

9:03
Facebook
*Click*

8:39
Facebook Login Page
*Click*

...and the Internet began to grind into gear. The page finally loaded with 6:38 remaining on the timer. I typed in my details. The text finally caught up with the intentions by 5:35 and... I was in!

'Huzzah', I thought, which was definitely a short-lived huzzah if ever there was one. The home page did not load until the timer read 3:21. By 3:15 the system had scanned the page and must have found some form of profanity and kicked me off the system. It was now 2:49 and I was back at the first screen. I, for one, completely understand the need to protect the innocent and naivety of the public. They could not just let people put any old website on their servers for the airport to see - of course not - but in this instance their effort to shield society from the profane fell short of the mark. I had completely lost my cool, throwing a few heavy words to the wind and drawing attention to myself. Teddy tantrum was now in full swing.

Expensive and Internet is one thing, but when the clerk behind the nearby help desk (who resembled Droopy the Dog) handles your situation by beginning with the phrase, 'You are still young...' you have been given a window to potentially hit the next plateau of rage.

'You are still young... when you are older - like me - you won't be so bothered about these kind of things.' I hadn't hauled 30kg of luggage over to this man to obtain sage advice from the most mild-mannered man in the world. At that moment, he can have his nirvana. You must understand that I am all up for inner peace, I search for it myself often enough, but after such a lengthy sequence of events, the camel's back was now in splinters. I was in no mood for a jovial exchange of perspectives. I was in no mood to learn from the more wise. I just wanted to send messages to my family.

I got twenty minutes extra for free. Bit my lip and sat through another chain of blocks by the server and the snail paced connection. After everything, I got my messages out. My nerves were slightly subdued. So, I grabbed a pastry-based snack and attempted to relax. 10 hours to go.

Never having felt so alone in a very long time, I welcomed the chance of company and, interestingly enough, I found some. Two EXTREMELY Northern girls who happened to also be waiting 10 hours for their flight to Magaluf. They were truly in pardy spirits as they were partaking in some pre-Maga drinking. The ten hour wait quickly became a pre-pardy pardy and I was invited. Safe to say, the next 10 hours flew by and I managed to forget the majority of my issues. I am not willing to tell you what happened over the 10 hour period, but I would hate to think what would have happened if I was left alone to wallow in the foul mood I was in.

3:00am - Check-in.

There was a small queue. Nothing too bad. My tiredness began to kick in and I found myself to be slightly on edge again. It didn't help when the girl at check-in informed me that it would be an extra £40 charge for my hand luggage. My mood dropped. I had flown with this airline four times over the last year and had not been questioned about this particular piece of hand luggage before. In fact, I had gotten beyond this stage the previous day without any friction. The lady was reluctant to change her stance on this. As was I. She warned me that I 'MAY get charged at the gate when trying to board the plane'. I translated this as, 'I am going to call the gate and tell them to watch out for Mr Happy Haps with the green ruck sack.' At least that was something to look forward to.

Then came the Airport Security. The previous day I was clean. Today, there was no difference in my attire nor the contents of my pocket. I got the whole shebang. Frisk. Shoe removal. Coat fondle. I physically could not muster a smile for the misery weighing down my face.

When I finally made it into the Departures Lounge, spirit dragging in my wake, I found the Magaluf ladies having the time of their lives in massage chairs. They insisted I tried one. I insisted they fuck odd. They laughed. At least my dryness was appreciated at this stage. A small saving grace. A modicum of joy.

"Go to Gate 3"

Role call. I was up. I bode farewell to the Whitehaven duo and made haste.

Gate 3 was relatively crammed. I instantly noticed that the lady checking the boarding passes kept looking over at me. She had been waiting for this moment. It was her chance to shine. It going to make her ridiculously early morning shift worthwhile. It was a modern day stand off. Clint Eastwood eat your heart out. 'Go on punk, make my day,' I thought as my turn to pass arrived.

'Can I see your hand luggage please, sir?' I could see it in her eyes. This was only going to go one way. One outcome. I am sure Queen wrote a song about something along these lines. This was the final straw.

'I haven't slept in 32 hours. Please take this £40, take my bag and please don't engage with me any further.' And that was that.

So, there you have it. A £75 flight and 9 hour journey became a 30 hour tirade ramping up fees over £200. No sympathy. Very little concern. I felt like a number. An overwhelming feeling of worthlessness.

On the plane the airline had the nerve to ask for generous donations to UNICEF. I happily give to charity on a regular basis and, as Michelle Pfeiffer asked for my contributions to the cause she has become the voice for, the feeling that I was still being played for my money came over me. As the flight attendants passed through the carriage, I kept my eyes closed and feigned sleep, keeping my growing rage at bay. I wished that they had taken that £40 they had taken off me for my hand luggage and gave that to charity, because then that money (a completely undeserved and unexpected bonus for the airline) the money, which I deserved to be parted from due to my own ignorance and the company's lack of standard, would go to a decent cause.

I would have been happy if that money had gone to charity rather than that bastard Stelios' empire at Easyjet.

What a day...

I am not going to go through this and edit it. 
I physically can't find it in me.
I hope you found it entertaining.

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