I can live with uncertainty. Either I was built that way, or my life has made me that way. But an Icelandic volcano almost blew my cool!
Delays like the one in Dublin a year ago make me mad. I still firmly believe that there was no technical problem with the plane I should have taken, but I couldn’t prove it, or I didn’t have the resources to do so, so I had to let it go.
Of course, it wasn’t the actual, potential travel disruption so much as the fact that I wouldn’t get to see Guy run his first Marathon (and such a prestigious one at that!). Much as I would have liked to be in two places at the same time, I knew that Austin had more support here for his ultra trail run than Guy had there, having lived in England only since January. I have a fatalist attitude to things I can’t change, though, and volcanoes are one of those things, so alternative plans were hopping around my brain for days.
Eventually, the volcano relented, or the powers-that-be decided it was safe, and English airports reopened on the very day I was supposed to fly.
There was unpleasantness at the airport of course. I have no idea how it went later in the night, but at the time I was there it was coming mainly from the toffee-nosed, ex-pat or second-home-owning types who think that they are important and merit special treatment.
I can classify three types of tourist here Type A as mentioned above. Type B is the disco/beer-swilling/sunburned/fish-and-chip-or-whatever-the-national-dish-is-eating/here-to-have-a-good-time-and-might-as-well-be-in-a-simulation type (by no means restricted only to Brits, but they do form a majority). Type C (sorry to lump you all together, folks) come to explore the beauty and diversity of the island/hike/swim/dive/climb/snap/fly/learn-about-its-history/etc.
Type B are generally the most troublesome. Perhaps the beer money had run out with the delay, which made them more docile, but my observation was that on that, particular Wednesday Type A was by far worst behaved. Those who had suffered delays in the preceding week, and were looking for flights, crowded around the check-in desk, preventing ticket-holders from checking in, so that the queue took three times as long as normal (two hours for me) to do their business. Of course, had they stood back, as any intelligent person would have, they could have let us through, and ascertained much earlier whether or not they could get on the flight. Afterall, it was low season and the flight was far from fully-booked.
There were some extremely competent and charismatic people in the queue who attempted to explain to these ***holes, but bent as the ***holes were on their personal agendas and sense of self-importance they were having none of it.
Personally, I am not good in these situations. I am not easily riled by delays and such, but the stupidity and arrogance of the general public will do it every time, so when I a guy asked me if I would ever fly ******* Airlines again I lost it. Happily I lost it to sarcasm and not to anger, and retorted that I didn’t actually think that they were responsible for the eruption of a volcano x thousand of miles away. When he responded that they should be better organized I pointed out that nothing like this had ever happened in the history of aviation before, so how could they know how to respond. Clearly the staff were doing their best. My heart went out to them. Anyone who has ever worked in client relations/customer service will know where I’m coming from!
The flight was delayed two hours (by those ***holes? I will never know!) but fine, and given the circumstances a minor miracle. Free food, just like the old days! The crew I have to compliment on their unfailing cheerfulness and good manners, which must have been difficult in the circumstances.
The only criticism I have of the episode is the delay in luggage arrival at London/Gatwick. OK. My perception was that it was quiet, given the gradual return to normal of flying in Europe, and maybe there were problems I didn’t understand, so no formal complaints.
I was in bed at 3 instead of 1, as planned, but, then, the best laid plans of mice and men!