"Well-behaved women seldom make history."
- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

When airports give you extra excitement

Yesterday I arrived at Paris. I passed the passport control, just needed to get my suitcase and let's go to work. Bags are coming. You know the strange feeling when there are less and less bags on the convayour belt but you're still waiting for yours. Waiting... and waiting. Meanwhile I had lots of thing in my head. I think you realise you travel a lot when you have more problems at the airports with missing bags, delayed or cancelled flights. Well, this year I had enough..
Some it was my mistake. Just like when I went to Iceland. I planned everything just like first time I travelled there, called a taxi, Gatwick Express etc.. I was perfectly on time at Gatwick but I didn't see my flight to be shown on the board. I was still not aware of the situation. I even went to complain to the desk and the lady told me “Don't worry, the check-in will be open soon.” OK, I thought I check my emails until so I wanted to connect to the airport Wifi. I don't remember so well, but I think it asked my flight number for the Internet or something that again I didn't find on the list.. that's strange! And in a minute I realised that s***, I'm on perfect time but on the wrong airport!!! My flight is from Heathrow! That's happening when you do everything from routine. First time I had the flight from Gatwick indeed and now I didn't even think or check everything properly. I was laughing on myself badly! I don't know how I could manage to get to Heathrow but I was there before the flight took off. (If you know the distance between the 2 airports and the traffic in London you know, if not, trust me, that was a miracle.) And if I wouldn't have had the suitcase that needs to be checked in, they could just let me go through the gates. The security guy apologised hundred times, but I couldn't be angry because it was my stupidity. I just smiled at him and booked a new ticket for the next day.

I was not so lucky leaving Japan either. I changed the date of my return flight once online, they charged me extra for that, and then I quit from the club so I needed to change it again. I called the BA, the lady was very helpful and explained me that they would charge me again for the changing plus I have to pay the difference between the price of the flights. OK, this is the price of the service. But then I checked the tickets, and the one-way return ticket from Tokyo to London cost 1000£ more than I paid for the original ticket! No way, I chose to buy a new ticket with other airline and cancelled this booking. I wrote an email to claim for the refund. I got answer weeks later: BA was lovely to give me a refund of 40 pence! For a second I thought it's a kinda joke but they were serious and send it to my bank account. I think the whole bank transaction cost more than that 40pence... Again, I was just laughing on them.

Some other situation was not so funny. Once I flew back to London from Geneva and we had to land in Paris for technical reason. We were waiting on the plane while technicians came and checked the doors and the vacuum in the aircraft. Hours later the pilot was apologising that we couldn't take off, but they couldn't fix the problem and didn't want to take a risk as “We flew with a half-broken flight to Paris..” But they give us food and hotel rooms for a night. Lots of people got angry because they missed the flight connection but I felt quite happy that they didn't want to take this kind of risk.

But the most unforgettable story was in Belgium. Me and my friend finished the work on 23rd of December and we wanted to get home for Christmas. On the way at the airport started snowing. We thought it's gonna be OK as flights take off in snow, so no problem. But it became a heavy snow and the road was slippery, the driver couldn't go fast. The timing was already very bad and we were sitting in the car in tense, none of us wanted to miss that flight. I think we arrived at the airport in the very last minute. We were running to the check-in but what a surprise! It was still a huge queue before us. The airline company couldn't decide if the plane take off or not but they let us checking-in and wait on the plane. We were waiting there for hours still hoping that we go home on that day. Suddenly my friend poked my shoulder “Look!” We saw from the window that people were getting off from the plane next to us. That was not a good sign! Shortly after the pilot told us the get off too. There were no plane from that airport that night, all flight were cancelled. (If you remember that was a few years back when the same happened in Paris and lots of flight were cancelled and airports were closed because of heavy snow in Europe.) We stucked at the airport. It was cold, no food, and we didn't sleep all night. They actually closed the whole airport for the night, only one pub decided to stay open and serve the people at least with alcohol to keep us warm and later the Red Cross came to give us hot tea and coffees. That was not the night I cry for in my life. But sure I will never forget. Since then if someone sings the White Christmas, this is the first thing that comes to my mind.

There were just so many people and there were not enough replacement buses or places in hotels nearby. We put on all our warm clothes and waiting for the snow to stop. That was almost in the morning when we got a crazy taxi driver who drove us in the snowfall through Bruxelles. We decided to try the International airport. Charleroi is a smaller airport, we thought if there are flights in the morning they must be from the International airport as they start to clean the bigger airports first. We were right and at least they had the Starbuck's open! But we needed to book new tickets and the queue was already huge front of the ticket office before opening. When we finally got to the desk, we didn't think when the lady told us the price. We just paid. This story has a happy ending as we both were at the Christmas dinner with our family in that year.. Luckily.

Just as my story today. My luggage finally arrived. They said it was some mistakes, they couldn't find them (as I was not the only one with missing bags). So a bit later, but arrived. Now I'm sitting in the apartment with all my stuff with me. (I don't know what to do if they say by mistake my luggage with all the stripper costumes landed let's say somewhere in Chicago.) But now I'm relaxed. At the end everything goes well.

So if you are about to travel anywhere in the World: I wish you a safe trip!


  1. just read your article about airport ....
    I think cab drivers are also an interesting story - especially when they give you a well paid tour through the whole city when you only want to get to the hotel.

    1. Hahaha yes, for sure! Luckily it never happened to me. Not even in Macau where the Chinese taxi drivers are extremely rude.