Yes the missing 10th ring of Dante’s Inferno, is that modern phenomena known as airport delays, and today I experienced it in its full and unadulterated glory.
My typical Monday morning flight from Manchester to Brussels, the 10:30 (GMT), normally not that busy, never had any delays before and it’s only a short hop, just over an hour, so I’m usually at my desk for 13:30 (CET). Not today however.
It starts fairly ominously with some fog, which by the time I get to the airport, is clearing up nicely and has become more of a haze, so I’m prepared for a short delay, maybe 30 minutes, and hour. I check in and the check in desk lady informs me that the flight wouldn’t be leaving untill 11:15. Fair enough, to be expected.
11:15 arrives and passes, next thing I hear is that it’s going to be 12:00. Ok the days not lost, I can still charge a half day’s fee’s if I work late. Sure enough we board the plane, 12:30 arrives and we’ve still not pushed back, when the captain annouces that there’s a problem with one of the tyres and a technician is looking at it. 13:00 arrives and the captain now annouces that it can’t be fixed and that a “service company” has been called to replace the wheel, and we’ll have to disembark the plane, but it should be no more than 1 hour.
Ok there’s nothing to be done about it, I get off the plane sit down and wait. 14:00 arrives and there’s no airline staff around, so I go to the BA information desk, who are handling agents for SN Brussels. They tell me that it’s now scheduled for 15:00. Ok my anger is building, it’s beginning to look like the whole days lost from a fee charging point of view. I keep my head and don’t vent my frustration at the BA staff, grab a coffee and go sit down, again.
I ring my boss, and tell him the good news that I probably won’t be in today. Fortunatley, he’s pretty cool about it.
I wait some more, watching the plane outside……there’s not much activity out there. 15:00 arrives, no sign of any gate staff, I wait with purpose back to the BA information desk. Who rather apologetically tells me that boarding will commence at 16:00. By this time I’m apoplectic with rage and frustration, my face must felt like it had turned a disturbing shade of puce, surprisingly I don’t loose it by blowing my stack, some tiny quiet voice at the back of my head is telling me that I’ll get hauled off by cops with large guns and held as some kind of potential terrorist threat for an undetermined amount of time. The information desk lady, perhaps realising that I’m teetering on the edge of a personal rage event horizon, offers me a refreshment voucher, a small white piece of handwritten paper which entitles me to redeem it at any beverage kiosk within terminal 3.
Rather stangely, at this point, I notice what nice handwriting she has. Anyway I smile, pick the voucher up and go sit down once more.
WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT FOR THIS SINGLE SOLITARY AIRPLANE TO BE FIXED. DO SN BRUSSELS NOT HAVE ANY SPARE PLANES KNOCKING AROUND WHICH THEY CAN RESCHEDULE. FOR THAT MATTER SINCE BA IS A CODESHARE PARTNER WITH SN, DON’T BA HAVE PLANES WHICH CAN BE USED IN PLACE, THEY MUST HAVE, BA’S HUGE, THEY’VE GOT LOADS OF PLANES.
All this I wanted to shout, out loud, while jumping up and down. But alas Mr Valium seemed to be at the controls at that point.
So 16:00 arrives and lo, we board, we’ve settled on board, when the captain annouces that there will be another short (pilot speak for long) delay due to air traffic at Brussels. This is greeted around the entire plan, by overly loud crys of “For Fucks Sake”, I was surpised, quite considerably, since for all this time most of the other passengers had maintained their british stiff-upper-lippid-ness. At least I had taken the trouble to look seriously unhinged.
So 16:30 arrives and we take off, marvellous, only 1 hurdle left and that’s to collect my hire car at Brussels airport, what could possibly go wrong.
Well a surprising amount of things could have gone wrong, although we did land at the wrong terminal, so we had to disembark onto a bus and get transported back to the right terminal…right being a metaphor for closer to the airport! But eventually I arrive at security hand over my passport, thinking “this day must surely end…..”, upon handing me my passport back the security officer tells me in a gruff tone “don’t celebrate too much tomorrow”……I think “What the fuck now, what WHAT????” I smile and give a little laugh (cause he could arrest me, and I’m quite polite you know) and walk off to the exit to collect my car. Some where along the way it dawns on me that it’s my birthday tomorrow….what a nice man I think and smile a genuine smile for the first time that day.
And arrive at the car hire desk, and there’s a queue, and not a ordinary queue either, it’s full of people with a hundred meaningless, pointless questions “HAVE YOU NEVER HIRED A CARD BEFORE, ARE YOU DUMB, YOU ARE SO POINTLESSLY USELES AND TOO STUPID TO LIVE” ranted my Rage Genie inside my head. Meanhile Mr Valium interrupts to play some soothing music while he apprehends the Rage Genie.
YES, THERE IS A GOD, OH LORD THANKYOU THANKYOU, it’s my turn at the car hire desk. Hello Jorge, I have a car reservation here, What? it’s no problem?, you have my reservation right here and the car is waiting for me downstairs? Bless you Jorge, I can’t thank you enough, yes I’ll take that Double-CDW and Personal Insurance and the Excess Waiver Insurance, and throw in some of the pigeon crap insurance too, no, wait I’ll take it all, just give me the keys, pleeee-he-he-he-eese.
I HAVE THE KEYS TO A CAR, what car, WHO CARES I HAVE A CAR and I’m on my way back to my apartment, just enough time to get there and get to the supermarket, what Mr Valium, I haven’t driven this route before? WHO CARES, shut up and put the Rage Genie in the driving seat.
Several mad minutes later, I’m at the supermarket, grab my shopping after whipping round like a dirvish, throw some cash at the checkout operator, sprint for my apartment, sit down in my comfy sofa and the day has ended.
All’s well that ends well