Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bad Flight – Crossing the Atlantic the Hard Way!

Before I set off for England, my wife asked me how I felt about my imminent journey?

I told her that I possessed a mixture of anticipation and trepidation.  I would enjoy being in England, but I wasn’t looking forward to all the flying, airport security, waiting around, anxiety over delays etc.

The last trans-Atlantic flight I went on was when I flew over to Florida from England to get married.  The plane made a short, first leg journey from Manchester to Dublin, where it proceeded to snow.  My main flight from Ireland to Orlando was cancelled and I spent an unexpected night in a hotel in a very cold and white Dublin.  

I finally got to Florida the following evening, but there was a lot of extra stress and worry – plus additional expenses relating to hotel fees and food, which it took over a month for me to claim back.

My Ill-Fated Dublin Flight in 2010

This time my wife reassured me that things would be better.  And it did start out very well.  My wife and I drove to Tampa, we had a nice meal and a drink, and we said our farewells.  Then I flew up to Boston.  From there I was due to fly overnight to Reykjavík, Iceland.  I was actually very much looking forward to arriving in Iceland the following morning.  Even though there wouldn’t be much to see apart from the descent into Reykjavík and the airport itself, Iceland has always struck me as a fascinating place to experience, even if just from the air.

The Reykjavík flight was due to leave at 8.30pm Boston time.  But just before we were supposed to take off they told that there was a mysterious technical problem – mysterious, because they knew that it existed but they weren’t sure exactly what it was.

An hour later they told us that they now knew what the problem was, but they needed a part to fix it, and that part had to be flown in all the way from Atlanta, Georgia.  Once the part arrived at Boston, the Icelandic air stewardess assured us, the engineers would fix the plane and we would fly out at 12.30pm.  At this point, the cynics amongst the passengers could be heard to mutter quietly their doubts that the plane would leave the runway that evening, although everybody wanted to hope for the best.

Anyway, 12.30 came around and they cancelled the flight.  That left more than 200 passengers with nowhere to sleep, and perhaps worse, no definite flights to their final destination (Iceland was just a stepping stone for most of us).  A slow, but chaotic series of computer bookings and general irritating nonsense ensued at the flight company’s checkout desk.

The nearest hotels that they could book us into were 30 or 40 miles away.  They managed to book me onto a flight to Heathrow (then on to Manchester) leaving later that morning.  In theory, I had a hotel to sleep at, but there wasn’t time for me to travel all the way to the hotel to rest and then still get back in time to check in for my early morning flight.  So I spent the night sleeping (or at least trying) beside the airport’s Dunkin’ Donuts outlet.  Fun fun fun, it was not.

Sunset Over the Atlantic Above the Clouds

To cut a long story short (I will miss out the incorrect boarding pass that I was given for the flight to Heathrow, followed by the delays with my final flight of the journey) I did eventually make it to Manchester.  But at such a late hour, there was no way that I could catch a train up to the Lake District.  Luckily, my mother and her partner had taken pity on me, and they came down to the airport to collect me in the car.  Otherwise that would have been another night in an airport.

Anyway, I am here now in (rainy) England and determined to enjoy myself.  Which I will.