Of the last few flights I’ve taken, they all seem to have been late by a prescribed amount, around twenty minutes or so. And, like that traffic blockage ahead that we’ve all sat in and once it’s cleared there’s no accident or apparent reason for it, late flights are much the same (to this layman at least). Our recent flight back from Santorini wasn’t any different. After clearing security and reaching the departure lounge in good time, the place was virtually empty, save the odd vendor behind the counters of the horrendously overpriced shops, and a few fellow travellers awaiting the flight back to East Midlands.Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay
The departure board announced ‘Boarding at Gate 5‘. We duly walked the length of the terminal (you’re never departing from the nearest gate, are you?). Arriving at Gate 5, we are confronted by an electronic sign announcing ‘GATE CLOSED‘. Where were we supposed to be? The departure board was showing ‘5’. Gate 5 was showing ‘CLOSED‘ no officials about to ask and the Tui app was about as useless as a Baldy’s comb. So everybody was milling around looking lost. About 25 minutes before the supposed departure, three staff turn up and open Gate 6. There is a mad and disorderly rush to get to the front (I’ve never understood this, as everyone has a designated seat) and, much to my surprise, everyone has boarded and the aircraft door is closed with five minutes to spare. Looking good, eh? Er, actually no!
We sit there for 5, 10, 15 minutes. The smarmy flight Captain comes on the tannoy: “Uuuuuum, this is the Captain speaking. We’re uuuum just waiting for the instruction to push back, and we’ll be uuuuum on our way”. WHY??? There are no other flights in frikkin’ operation at the moment! It’s like Air Control are tittering down their sleeves seeing how long they can hold the plane before the passengers are on the verge of mutiny! We eventually trundle onto the apron and stop once again for another ten minutes. “Ummmm, we’re just awaiting a departure slot from Air Control and we’ll soon be on our way”. YOU’RE TAKING THE PISS! There’s no other aircraft within sting missile range, never mind in our flight path!Image by JUNO KWON from Pixabay
The uneventful flight took just under the predicted 4h:10m and by the time we landed, we had made up the 20-25 minutes. I’d cooled off a bit by now and thought we might even get our planned Skylink shuttle bus from EMA to Nottingham. Yeah, right! Immediately on stopping, everybody jumps to their feet and retrieves their bags and stand like coiled sprigs, determined to be first off and onto the terminal shuttle bus. The ground crew efficiently approached the ‘plane with the steps and the cabin doors opened. And again we waited, and waited, and waited. Another smarmy announcement: “Uuuuuum, we’re sorry about the delay, but we’re waiting for the uuuum shuttle buses to take you to Arrivals”. WHAAAT? Like they didn’t have enough feckin’ notice? Why didn’t someone ring through four hours ago when we took off? No. Too simple, and probably designed just to piss you off even more.
So we disembark the aircraft and board the shuttle buses. Packed like sardines isn’t the phrase to use, more like a tin of mashed-up frickin’ tuna. We eventually move off and I check my watch – we may still just about have time to catch the Skylink to Nottingham. The shuttle reaches the arrivals building, but rather than drop us at the entrance door at the corner of the edifice, the driver takes us to the far end of the covered walkway, about 300 yards away, and we have to walk back along the length of the corridor. WHY? AAAAARGH!!! Again, I bet the drivers are pissing their pants with laughter watching all the passengers struggle with all their luggage for a few hundred unnecessary yards.Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay
Despite ours being the only flight at the terminal at this time of night, the sheepherding tape and bollard system was in place, requiring all the passengers to walk ten times further than really necessary. Then you get to the passport scanners. The capacity of a Boeing 737 is about 210 passengers and East Midland Airport have four scanners. FOUR! They don’t need four! They need fifty frikkin’ four!!!! All designed to wazz you off to the max, I’m sure. We eventually reached the Skylink bus stop – you guessed it – about twenty minutes late and had to stand in the rain for another forty minutes.
I understand this is the norm of flight travel now, but there has to be a better way, doesn’t there?
Featured (header) image by Dirk Daniel Mann from Pixabay