20080329

28 Hours Later

By popular request of Simon, an update to my previous travel post.

Keeping up the tallies, plus a couple of points to Air France for Radiohead as background music and a dinky cup holder, but now minus several million for canceling my flight on Thursday morning from Nantes to Asterix DeGaul airport. No reason was given, so as far as I could work out, it was because it was a little rainy. Maybe it was some kind of extended knock on effect from Terminal 5, but it's hard to blame BA for everything, especially when I have Air France to blame.

The consequence was that I got to ADG about an hour after my transatlantic flight had departed, and since it was on a different carrier, I got no help whatsoever from Air France. They even had the gall (ha ha) to be completely indifferent to my plight. My only option was to wait 23 hours until the next days flight, and since I am allergic to camping out in airport terminals, I sought out an overpriced and nasty hotel which my employer will be surprised and not entirely delighted to foot the bill for (yay for corporate credit cards).

Also, while we are keeping score, a few thousand off for Air India, who the next day decided to delay their flight by four hours. Four hours doesn't seem too much in comparison to the 24 hours due to Air France, but it certainly seemed to drag. Also, note that if they had chosen to incur this delay on Thursday instead of Friday, I could have made it home a day earlier.

Half a point to the ground staff for giving me a voucher for lunch to make up for the delay, but minus several score for the fact that the only place that accepted these vouchers had no hot food, and I had to satisfy myself with a baguette. It was a very nice baguette, but after a week in France I was getting pretty fed up with baguettes, and had been looking forward to something hot and bad for me, like a beef burger or something. It also felt like something of a sneaky con trick, since this place was on the far side of security, making it seem almost impossible to get back to the main part of the airport where there might be a wider selection of meals. Isn't there some con where you pay a large amount for some supposed attraction, but when you go through the door you find that you are out on the street, and a fire door has just slammed shut behind you? If there is, then it felt like this.

At least the in-flight entertainment was working on the AI flight. I was hoping to be able to find Dhoom 2, which I still haven't seen, but it was not around, so instead I settled in for the gloriously mindless Transformers. This turned out to be somewhat irritating, in that the film attributed the Beagle 2 mission to NASA/JPL instead of ESA; and claimed that the invention of the laser and the transistor was due to the discovery of Megatron frozen in ice: presumably, they would also claim that this led to the invention of UNIX and C.

My progress back home was also hindered by a sequence of individuals irritants, including:

* Newark deciding to have on only 3 immigration officers to deal with the simultaneous arrival of three planeloads of visitors (so my usual technique of pegging it from the plan to the immigration hall, elbowing all and sundry out of the way, had only limited effect -- reducing my queuing time from about an hour to half an hour in my best estimation).

* My immigration officer being unusually nosey, asking not only who I worked for, but when I last entered the country, wanting to see my petition documentation (who is anal enough to carry that kind of thing with them every time they travel? Well, I am , apparently), and generally slowing the whole process down for everyone. It could have been worse, I suppose. I overheard him asking the person in front of me what his salary was, which seemed odd in the extreme.

* A customs officer, as I was trying to leave the customs hall with my backpack and small shoulder bag, querying whether this was all the luggage that I had. Yes, I like to travel light as possible. Isn't that a good thing?

* An overly chatty taxi driver, who chided me for a small tip. Maybe I'll just not give a tip at all in future.

All of which got me home at midnight on Friday, when I had been reasonably expecting to be home before 7 on Thursday. So thanks to everyone who made this possible. Air France probably bears the brunt of the responsibility, so I will add them to my list of officially unrecommended airlines based on them having screwed me over mightily without any appearance of apology or restitution, which currently reads:

Aerolineas Argentina
Air France
United

Avoid these dreadful companies at all cost.

To put a less negative angle on things, it wasn't a complete disaster. At least the reason I was originally scheduled to rush home has been rescheduled. And, thanks to the wonders of modern communications technology, I was able to spend Thursday night in the company of a university friend in central Paris celebrating his birthday in a faux British style pub (with continental prices), which made it almost seem worth it.

1 comment:

Vincent said...

Re: paragraph 5 - the con you're thinking of is the Famous Egress.