Wednesday, 2 August 2006

h2g2: Lightning

That evening as the time of my flight approached and I had completed check-in I found an internet point and was happily emailing Mr Doris about the impressive thunder and lightning outside. After I had logged off I noticed that the planes were still were they were on the runway.

A while later with my food and drink in hand I made my way to the gate for my flight. I notice again the planes were still where they were and then as I approached the terminal that it was full of people sitting around. The information was starting to filter through my skull that something wasn't right and sure enough, all flights in and out had been grounded due to the weather.

The air in the terminal was thick with sweat and humidity and I found myself a little out of the way corner with soft wheelchairs to sit in, and fresh cool air to breathe that I nick-named it the first class waiting area. I pulled my wheelchair up to the window for a front-row seat of the storm and the rain cascading in buckets down the windows.

After about an hour of the storm, and my departure time passed, announcements starting coming through every few minutes with regret that such and such a flight had been cancelled and that people should make their way back to the main airport. I thought most people took it well considering it was a massive hassle. Only the German, an Austrian and Italian flights remained. Indeed the Austrian and an Italian flight was boarding and set off. Apparently they didn't get far and were returned to the airport.

Eventually, regretful notice of the cancellation of my flight was announced along with every other flight that evening. I too was sent to the scrum that was the main airport full of heaving bodies trying to re-book flights. After my mega journey to get to the airport this was not what I needed. Phone calls are flying between the UK and my first set of friends in Germany to warn of possible delays and now cancellation. Meanwhile they had been told by the airport their end that the flight had set off and drove the hour to the airport to pick me up! It is bad enough me being put out but I am so sorry they had a wasted journey on top of it all.

Mr Doris has family about an hour from the airport so I phoned them to ask for advice. Part of me was prepared to sleep in the airport for the night for the first flight and part of me desires a certain amount of softness and that airport has precious few seats let alone anywhere comfortable. His sister kindly fetched me whilst Mr Doris scoured the internet and found me an alternative flight on another airline at another airport the next day. He just paid up and we are hoping the insurance will cover the extra costs.

It was a lovely night catching up with family and quaffing a glass of wine. An unexpected and pleasurable detour. The next day my brother-in-law drove me all the way to London City airport for my flight in the afternoon. There I treated myself to a slap-up lunch in a restaurant overlooking the runway watching the flights effortlessly take off.

At long last, seated on the plane, the pilot warned us there were storms near our destination airport but for the moment it was clear so we would go. The engines roared to life, the plane shuddered and was approaching the point of take-off at which point, like the broken down truck on the motorway it choked to a stop. I began to grin again like a demented person with a life completely out of my control, and then audibly chuckle as the pilot began to announce we were told by air traffic control to stop and return to the terminal. My life flashes before me and I consider any bad karma I am due but then we are assured it was a simple reason and we do a circuit of the runway and take off.

The turbulance was particularly bad the entire trip and I did wonder if the plane would crash and if I would ever arrive but I did to be greeted by my friends with a welcome poster. I don't think I've ever had one of those before with a welcome message and my name on it and it brought tears to my eyes. I had finally arrived more than a day late after my long journey into the arms of a friend.

Original Comments:

Jo said...

What a nightmare. You just have to laugh, I guess (following on from my reply to your last post) - this goes beyond stress.

The turbulence thing. I flew to Bangkok and back a few months back and it was whisper smooth for 11 hours. Three months before that I took a 50 minute London-Newcastle BA flight and the turbulence as we approached landing was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. It took 3 attempts to land, screaming engines, people crying in the cabin etc (no kidding). I really thought...this could be it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 1:20:00 AM

Chandira said...

Oh, nightmare Doris!! I'm so glad you made it back safely and had a nice welcomehome again. I hate flying in turbulence.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 2:41:00 AM

Astryngia said...

WOT an Adventure (capital 'A'!!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 11:45:00 PM

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