I am realistic when it comes to travelling. No trip goes without a hitch. Trains, boats and planes rarely run to schedule, they are susceptible to the weather, and they go techie at the slightest provocation.
Getting on and off the rock I have chosen to make my home, is often fraught with problems. Fog is our number one arch enemy, but once you are off it and it’s perfect weather for flying, finding out that your connecting flight has been cancelled, is a bitter pill to swallow.
A few years ago I was a regular guest of the airline, Flybe. They had the pleasure of my company at least once a fortnight. I stuck with them because I had no other option to fly from Jersey to my chosen destination. Eventually, after consistent delays and persistent technical problems, I vowed I would never fly with ‘FlyMAYbe’ again, until today
It was a big mistake because, right now, instead of being in Glasgow and enjoying time with family, I’m drinking an iced latte in the Departure Lounge at Birmingham airport… with another five-hour wait ahead of me.
Flybe was 25 minutes late leaving Jersey, but I arrived in Birmingham, already checked in for my connecting flight. I faffed around in security, my new underwired bra setting off the sensors but, once in the departure lounge, my connecting flight was illuminated and smiling down at me from the departures screen.
Glasgow 12.55 Gate information 1 hour 35 minutes
Happy days, I couldn’t resist a Pret A Manger smoked salmon sandwich. I’m on holiday after all, so why not? I sit down and scoff on it whilst checking the messages on my phone.
A couple of bars of the music from Psycho play in my head. My flight is delayed, but it’s only ‘for about an hour.‘ I laugh it off, things could be a lot worse. But, whilst chomping into the second half of my sandwich, message pings its arrival. It’s from Flybe, telling me my flight has been… cancelled. Music from Psycho takes over, and I choke on the rest of my sandwich.
Fuming, I try and make my way out of the Departure Lounge. I must rebook on another flight, but Flybe is my only option to Glasgow. I am told I have to be escorted out of the Departure Lounge by a Flybe employee, but by that time I believe that Flybe employees are an extinct species. They are nowhere to be seen and they don’t answer the phone. I finally track one down at Gate 15, where some of my would-be fellow passengers have gathered. We are frogmarched out of the Departure Lounge via secret stairs and are presented at Flybe check-in. I am given a ticket for the 19.20hrs flight and a voucher for £10 for the inconvenience.
Flybe, I must thank you for the barrage of emails you sent me yesterday, which said you couldn’t wait to welcome me aboard! I don’t think you know what the word inconvenience means… precious missed time spent with people you care about and spending 9 hours trying to find a seat in a crowded departure lounge… having checked in twice.
I would be the first person to say that, the more you travel, the more you are at risk of experiencing the often shambolic reality of travelling in the twenty-first century.
Ah well, just another five hours to wait, which will be ample time to spend Flybe’s generous £10 inconvenience compensation.
That’s it, Flybe… I am done with you!
My thanks to Nick and Jodie Shafi for recognising a damsel in distress and buying me a drink!