Sunday, October 01, 2006

Travelling across the night before - D'oh!

Three day workshop near Gatwick starting early tomorrow morning. Hurray! So to ease the early morning travel woes, I booked the Sunday teatime Flybe flight across to London Gatwick, in time to enjoy dinner at the hotel, and a much-needed early night.

Flybe now offer online check-in, so I was able to walk up to the Q-buster bag drop desk (no queue), deposit my case, and go through security. “No delay on your flight tonight” the cheery Flybe check-in lady noted as I left her desk.

Belfast City Airport departure screen showing delayed flightsNo delay … until ten minutes later when I got through security. Then the stormy weather over the south of England kicked in and added a few hours to people’s journeys.

With lots of flights delayed, St George’s airside seating has pretty much filled up, laptop users have found the cleaner’s power sockets and plugged in, and lots of people are busy phoning up to cancel dinner reservations.

Photo of crowded airside lounge at Belfast City AirportMy next decision in this inevitable chain of catastrophe is whether to eat here - the paninis smell ok from the café at the far end of the lounge - grab something when I land at Gatwick, or chance the hotel bar.

Given my first bad decision to fly over the night before, I'm not sure if I’ll get the food one right either!

Update: You can read the comment below about the luggage belt breaking down as we were (at long last) waiting for the hold bags to reappear at Gatwick. The sign above the belt seemed to cover the situation - snafu.


Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Update: after a while they updated the screen to an estimated departure time of 20:00. then 30 seconds after the flight was 2 hours delayed, they called it for boarding.

30 seconds after they became liable for meal vouchers - triggers after 2 hours.

We've now been standing at gate 7 for 10 minutes, and no one has boarded. Am I a cynic to wonder if they deliberately moved out of the lounge and away from food and staff with vouchers!

Someone in seat 1C has now queried whether we can get free food and drink on the flight - don't rate their chances.

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

When the food trolley came past, and I cheekily enquired "is it free tonight", the stewardess said that it was, but she couldn't advertise the fact otherwise they'd run out of food. So thank you Flybe for a clotted creme scone - too dry to be worth £2.50, but tasted very good since it was free.

We eventually took off and landed just over two and a half hours late.

And the poor souls waiting in line (more like a scrum) at Gatwick to board our incoming flight to head back to Belfast look really tired and grumpy.

A long way for a short cut to Sussex for tomorrow morning.

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Then to crown it all the luggage belt broke down - stopped after the first 5 bags came out, leaving the wee guy to reset all the emergency stop buttons and look for jams between the series of short belts chained together. Looked a bit like somone trying to unjam a supersized photocopier. And then after 10 minutes it suddenly started up again.

Now to add insult to injury, the hotel reception has stated that their licence doesn't permit them to serve food after 10.30pm. So if I want to eat I have to order room service. And I can't bring the tray back to the bar to eat with my colleagues, as I'd be breaching their licence.

Arghh. Vogons. (Watch the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy film to see the Vogons in action. So much better portrayed than the HHGTTG book.)

Not sure who's the bigger Vogon - the hotel of the local council issuing the customer unfriendly licence. And how can an alcohol licence have any remit over food. So stupid.