Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

…..flying in 2010…the harsh reality

"...my other guitar's a Porsche....."

Two excuses for this entry:

1) I wanted to post a few more pics

2) I wanted to try and put into words the experience of 26 waking hours as we allowed ourselves to be chewed up by the monster that is international air travel and spat out at the other end!

A taste of what's to come as we head over the mountains to Madrid

 

Hard Rock Girl

Blown away by the band at the Second fiddle

 The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind….-Bob Dylan

Ever since that Nigerian idiot decided to take to the skies in his exploding underpants, the world, and particularly America, has gone security ga-ga again. In a flurry of “I can top that” incidents we were then treated to lovesick plonkers evading security to give his girlfriend ‘one last kiss’ at the gate – get a room, or buy a ticket, for chrissakes!  -and ‘forgetful’ gun dealers who helpfully alert cabin crew as the plane taxis for take-off, that he has a bunch of shotgun shells in his carry-on lugagge. You couldn’t make it up. In fact, you don’t need to make it up, because real-life is far, far stranger than fiction.  All of the above certainly didn’t help smooth our passage to the States, which began when we arrived at Almeria airport for the first leg of our journey at around 8am Spanish time. Almeria boasts a shiny new terminal, and the most expensive landing fees in the whole of Spain. All well and good, but the screens weren’t working at the check-in desks, and I first started to worry when I saw passengers queueing for a flight to Brussels in front of a hastily scribbled sheet of A4 paper. The one monitor that was functioning showed thast our flight did not exist. When the check-in desk finally opened half an hour late, we were booked in manually with hand-written tickets, and told they were only good to take us as far as Madrid, and we had to collect our bags from the carousel and start the whole process again.  When I pointed out that this was wholly unacceptable, not to mention impossible, given the time until our connection to Dallas and the increased security checks, I was greeted with the Spanish for ‘not our problem’.  Apparently, all ther phone lines ands computer systems in the airport were ‘off”. Curiously, when it was a wooden huts and palm tree airport 20 years ago, it functioned perfectly. There is such a thing then, as too much technology. We overheard an exchange between another frustrated passenger and an airport official:
Passenger: Who is going to pay for this?
Official: It’s not our fault.
Passenger: my connecting airline?
Official: It’s not their fault , either.
Passenger: Then whose fault is it?
Official: It is the wind’s fault.

There is no wonder we whupped their Armada, is there?

              King of Spain: Where the hell are my ships?

              Captain: It’s not my fault.

              King of Spain: Then whose fault is it?

              Captain: It is the wind’s fault.

Knowing we had a day of hell ahead of us, we accepted the hand scribbled tickets and trudged towards the gate. 
We were deposited at Madrid’s Terminal 4 almost an hour late, and began the agonizing wait for our bags.  A curious thing then happened when I had the presence of mind to call the American Airlines helpline number on my reservation, intending to ask them to tell the gate for the Dallas flight we were on our way. I was told by the lady on the other end of the line, that they could not get in touch with their OWN INFORMATION DESK, which sat tantalizingly one floor above the baggage carousel where we were waiting. It is this kind of incompetence, this blatant lack of common sense or a willingness to assist that causes the red mist to descend with me. But, as me going bananas and Miki being forced to endure it are wholly incompatible, I took one of several deep breaths that I would be taking that day.
Finally, bags in tow, and breathless, we sprinted up to the AA info desk. Our pleas were greeted with looks of practiced, professional sympathy. This time accompanied by the American for ‘not our problem”. Feeling like participants in a game of human ping-pong, we wrere bounced over to the Iberia desk, responsible for the first leg of our journey.
Things were looking bleak. The AA people had made it clear, that although the plane was still on the tarmac, we would categorically not be boarding the Dallas flight which in turn would have connected us to Nashville.  We arrived in front of an unsympathetic-looking Iberia guy. A brief exchange culminating in his assertion that “there were no problems in Almeria and we could easily have made our connection” caused my thin veneer of calm to fall away. Thankfully, only seconds before he became dog food, his colleague pointed out that , yes, there were indeed problems in Almeria, and furthermore they were responsible, and surprise surprise, actually had a duty of care to their passengers.  All this and in-flight drinks too.  
In fairness to ‘our guy’, once he’d made absolutely sure that any steps he took wouldn’t result in him being blamed and/or losing his job, he sprang into life like a finely-honed gazelle. So swift  and sure was he of his course of action, we actually had no idea where he was sending us, or when.  Within minutes it emerged that we were booked on a flight to JFK in New York, 1377 airmiles away from Dallas. It was 13.03. According to the monitors (in Madrid they were working) the flight had begun boarding 3 minutes earlier. We were a train ride away. We began running. Again.
Part Two tomorrow!
Kev Moore

 

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January 12, 2010 - Posted by | coffee, culture, Entertainment, humor, life, travel, writing | , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. Kev

    You have a most inimitable style of writing about travel experiences – you really must publish a book someday. It’s much easier to read all of this knowing already that you have arrived safely in Nashville!

    Comment by bobcornelis | January 13, 2010

  2. OMG Kevin. Despite all your post had me laughing and smiling. Its nice to know when “something” is broken it usually is a “human” who saves the day. Remember that guy and if you can get his name and employee number and contact the CEO’s secretary and tell her you want a commendation letter sent to this man who helped you. You never know what affect you will have on another until you do this. I am sure the guy would remember you and that “letter” signed by the CEO or President of his company forever.

    Comment by Michael Pokocky | January 13, 2010

  3. You know what Michael, I often try to do this when people go the extra mile, because I believe you have to make the effort to praise in equal measure to the effort we use to complain! The guy truly leapt into action, having just minutes to insert us into the flight to JFK, and ultimately turned a potential disaster into a triumph. More chapters in the tale to come!

    Comment by kevmoore | January 13, 2010

  4. Hey I realized we’re in the same time zone.

    Comment by Michael Pokocky | January 13, 2010

  5. Bob: Believe me, it was easier writing it, knowing we had arrived!

    Comment by kevmoore | January 13, 2010

  6. Good to know you are there safely.
    BTW, half of Michael’s comments have been stuck in SPAM…

    Comment by viv66 | January 13, 2010

  7. Hi Viv – Michael mailed me, and I’ve sorted it, thanks.

    Comment by kevmoore | January 14, 2010


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