Friday, 25 September 2009

If it all appears to be going to well

A massive queue at checkin, but through in 10 minutes.
Another big queue for security, but again through quite quickly.
Before you’ve even had time to grab more than the bare essentials your flight is showing a gate number.
You walk to your gate, the closest gate there is to the departures lounge.
The plane is already on stand and has off-loaded all the inbound passengers.
A couple of minutes later you are all boarding, nearly 30 minutes before you are due to leave.

It’s at this point that it all starts to go wrong.

Sadly, four people hadn’t been paying attention to the screens, and as the time ticked down to our scheduled push back moment they were still nowhere to be seen.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if they just had hand luggage, shut the door and send the plane on its way.

It is a problem when they have two bags in the hold that have to be located and off-loaded as well.

It had all been going so smoothly, it’s just a shame we were over 20 minutes late leaving!

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The hell that isn’t Gatwick

It’s the first week of the school holidays, the gloomy predictions that not very many people would be travelling this summer have been disproven by a combination of aggressively cheap flights and the promise of a barbecue summer, which instantly condemned it to rain for most of July (which it has proceeded to do!)

Consequently, the thought of going through Gatwick has been filling me with dread, and to begin with today I had every reason to believe my worst fears, of a heaving terminal full of stresses parents and restless children, would be fulfilled. The train was heaving, there was luggage stacked in every corner, and when I saw the queue for the lift off of the platform into the terminal building (at least 10 lift loads deep) I thought it was going to be bad.

It looked even worse when I got to the easyJet checkin area where the queue was massive, but then my preconceptions and fears were proved wrong.

Despite a queue which could have been measured in fractions of a kilometre, it moved at a speed which could have been measured in kilometres. In less than 5 minutes I was through the queue, at a desk and checked in onto my flight.

Even more to my surprise was the virtually non-existent queues for security, which was operating with a level of efficiency I would normally expect from Munich airport, not Gatwick.

So, having left myself nearly three hours to get checked in and through security I find myself in the busy, but by no means packed, departures lounge, with ages to wait for my flight to board.

Lucky I didn’t book that place in the Business lounge that I was thinking about but never got round to. I’d be plastered by the time I boarded if I had!

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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"Something spectacular is about to go wrong..."

At the end of my last diary entry (link here) I said that “I’m fearing the worst for my next trip, it’s never been that smooth before, something spectacular is about to go wrong!”

Well, this morning I had to go into work as we were having major network changes taking place and I needed to be there just in case something went wrong. The guys were supposed to be in and all of our PCs down between 8 and 10am, which would have left me with a very tight window if something had gone wrong.

By the time I got into work at 8:30 everything had been done and there were no problems.

I got to Gatwick just after checkin opened to find a massive queue, which promptly moved at such a rate that the people who were waiting in the Speedy Boarding Plus queue to supposedly avoid having to join the big queue, ended up waiting longer than I did.

I walked through security, no problems, into departures which wasn’t particularly busy to see my flight listed as being on-time and with a note saying the gate would be announced at 12:10.

At 12:10 the gate number flashed up and I wandered down, sat at the back of the gate room and awaited the hoards as I was in boarding group B I was going to be one of the last to board, so I was preparing for a cramped flight in between a warring couple (see the Ryanair flight back from Verona last May!).

They announced boarding I looked up and there was virtually nobody there, I got onto the plane and, as nobody was sitting there, bagged seat 1A

The plane pushed back on time, had a quick taxi and a smooth flight

10 minutes early I was off the plane, through passport control and my bags were already on the belt.

Straight onto a waiting train at the airport station, a quick change onto a tram in the city centre and then into my hotel.

The only possible thing that could be considered a problem is that the room is shared facilities rather than the ensuite I thought I had booked, but that’s hardly a spectacular failure.

Of course, I could have spoken all too soon...

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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Holidaying in Britain II

Of course, if you can get your hands on a dirt cheap flight to Ireland then I could be tempted to not spend the whole of the summer going for Donkey rides up the beach at Blackpool.

God bless easyJet and their next to nothing flights to Belfast. Looks like I’ll be spending part of the summer going round Ireland (though I would like to make it absolutely clear at this point that I will not be taking any kitchen equipment with me, especially not Fridges!)

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Saturday, 27 September 2008

Shop till you drop

A couple of days ago, it was announced, to the usual levels of self publicity, that Ryanair were about to offer the ability to use your mobile in flight, at vast expense. Michael O’Leary, the chief executive, and a man who knows how to bleed the public dry, was, for once, quite open and honest about his airlines philosophy. He stated that “if you want a quiet flight, go with someone else. We’re noisy full and we are always trying to sell you something”

Noisy and full are also words that could have been used to describe my easyJet flight. It’s not been that long since I last flew with them, but I’m pretty certain that they have got even more into the “sell sell sell” mode than they used to be.

They have even now introduced lottery style scratch cards, where you can win up to £25,000 (though I would suspect that this might just be in speedy boarding credits or a free luggage allowance for the year)

It’s led me on to think about what else the budgets can try selling.

Coming Soon…

  • Speedy Evac, pay £20 and guarantee to be one of the first people down the escape slide should the plane be involved in an accident.

  • £1 charge for using the toilets.

  • “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, credit card machines will fall from the ceiling. Insert your card, enter your PIN number, and once a £5 charge has been debited from your account an oxygen mask will be released.”

  • £7.50 for the life jacket (perhaps a special deal could be arranged, £10 for a life jacket, and an oxygen mask.)

  • £35.95 for a seat, if you don’t pay this fee you have to stand all the way to your destination (not as daft as it sounds, some budgets have been investigating using harnesses similar to hanging roller coasters and perch seats, so that they can squeeze in double the number of passengers by having them all stand for the flight – it would prevent DVT!).

I would like to point out all these are my copyright, so if Stellios or Mr O’Leary decide to introduce them, then I accept all major world currencies, or lifetime free flights with a full-fares airline.

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