This blog picks up from my previous blog where we arrived at Gran Canaria’s airport to fly home from holiday, back to Southend Airport and we’re waiting to board the flight on their hottest day of the year and I am a shit scared flyer.
So boarding didn’t actually happen, not to us anyway, as while we were still waiting to get through the gate those already on the plane were off boarded.
Word quickly spread from the other passengers, not from any ground staff, they had been told to get off due to ‘a technical problem with the plane’. Just what every nervous flyer wants to hear and for the second time that day I was pleased I had not gone commando (see previous blog) as my bowels needed the extra support of pants as they were also threatening to off board and just as quickly!
Once again, by another passenger, we were advised that they were calling an engineer to fix it. At which point I turned into B. A. Baracus and basically said ‘I ain’t getting on no plane’. I think I might have said ‘f’ing’, before plane.
Our airline, easyjet, continued to make no announcement about what was happening. And we continued to get updates from other passengers. ‘Latest is the engineer will be here in an hour’. ‘It’s a gauge that’s gone’. Er who are you and why are you giving me technical updates which basically amount to the probability of me surviving this goddam flight!
Tony, my husband, asked me if I was ok? ‘Er, no. I’ve basically gotta get on a broken plane that’s broken!’ ‘An engineer has been called in to fix it’. ‘Yer, a bloke that’s probably on the beach somewhere right now, drinking Sangria, dancing to a mariachi band, and pissed off being called in. That makes me feel really good’. ‘It’s ok, he will be experienced’, Tony said just before he started laughing loudly looking out to the plane saying ‘he’s here, he’s just arrived in a golf buggy thing wearing a sombrero’. ‘Great what’s he gonna do shake his maracas at it!’
Still no announcements, just information via other passengers that veered from, we will be flying at 2am (great, 11 hours in an airport), to, nope we are going tomorrow. There were no easyjet staff. The only guy that was there to represent easyjet told us just that and no more. ‘I’m here to represent easyjet but I am not part of them and have no idea what is happening’. Whatever question you asked, he repeated this.
We sat down for a while in a bank of 4 seats next to two other passengers. My legs facing away from them in a clear, I do not want to engage in polite conversation with you way. Some people can’t pick up on body language, as a desperate attempt was made to engage us in conversation. ‘They are probably checking the wings are still there, they just need a bit of oil on it, they’re getting an elastic band as we speak, that’ll fix it’. Just keep looking at your shoes I think.
But the conversation doesn’t stop there. Immediately everyone starts to share their ‘I was so delayed once stories’. ‘All you can hear is, people talking to their partners saying, ‘do you remember the time we went to Egypt and got delayed, it was terrible’, ‘yer we got delayed coming back from America, you’ve never known anything like it’. God it went on. Everyone with a story, everyone described in infinite detail and everyone thinking they had the far worst experience. There was a sense of pride that went with the stories.
I felt sorry for a couple excited to be going to Southend for their holiday. Not because of the delay, but because they are going to Southend for their holiday! The delay building a sense of anticipation that it will be worth the wait. Er, it won’t. A bloke is telling them you’ll like it. Yer, if they want to buy a kebab and go to a strip show at any time of the day.
A day out in Southend one afternoon is where Tony and I understood the definition of broken Britain. We’ve known each other since we were 13 and our birthdays are a day apart, so it is tradition for us to go to Southend and basically get smashed.
A bit drunk one birthday, we went into a bar. A woman in a short, orange dress came up to Tony and while I went for a wee (just a short one mind, no lipstick application or anything), she offered him sex. This was unfortunate as he had just ordered two tuna baguettes. So unable to leave and not wanting the sex, we took them outside and sat at the tables.
That’s when we clocked the strip show sign. Underneath advertising a list of snacks, it said the show started at 1pm. It was bizarre, people were sitting around eating cockles and winkles waiting for this. There was a bloke with his shirt off, all red, throwing his baby up in the air with the sign just behind him. With some careful positioning we caught a snap, while Tony pretended to snap me eating my baguette. But sure, maybe this couple stuck in the airport waiting to visit Southend will like it!
Anyway, having now been stuck in the airport for hours, we went to get some wine in the bar. Something got lost in translation (in a good way) when I asked for two large wines (see the picture). Quite happy to keep going to the bar to get wine in that quantity (already feeling quite drunk), I was disappointed to see the shutters go down. And looking around, I realised everything was shutting. And not only that, there were only two food places left open and with sandwiches now at a premium, and still no flight update, people were starting to shove and push for a cheese toastie.
We then decided we’d just get wine from duty free and get hammered. So off I went. I grabbed a bag of sweets to replace the small child’s shoe that was eaten by our dog while he was looked after by his foster family and spent about 20 minutes locating the only bottle of wine with a screw top. I found a couple of shot glasses with bull fighters on (my principles had long gone) and made my way to the till. At which point, I had no boarding pass and had to leave my purchases there and walk the 20 miles back to the gate to get it.
On the way back to the gate, I clearly had time to reflect on our situation and the fact the latest rumour was we’d fly tomorrow but with no real updates or announcements or wine in bull fighting glasses, I wanted answers.
So, I went up to the representative, basically a man with a badge saying happy to help but whose words were less congruent, when he kept saying, ‘I can’t help’ and while everyone was patiently queuing for a voucher for a meal, I turned into an idiot. I embarrassed myself by going up to the unhelpful guy and telling him that I spoke on behalf of all the passengers (no election took place), and we wanted hotels for the night as it was against our human rights to sleep in an airport (twat).
Once again he said he couldn’t help. ‘Well you’re not worthy of that badge’ I told him. This strong and adult argument was sure to win him over and get us hotels. There is no doubt the seriousness of my argument was undermined when I got my note book out which had been chewed to shit by my puppy, I slapped it on his podium saying I was going to write down everything he said. Why, no idea. Just cheese toastie deprivation I guess which had impacted my mental functioning hence not thinking to actually just live stream!
Not only was I speaking for all the passengers (idiot), I was walking around with copies of ‘what happens if my flight is delayed’? Leaflets I found randomly strewn in an area of the airport. No doubt left by some other stranded easyjet passengers whose skeletons I’d find later.
I read out paragraph 2 repeatedly, (with excessive finger pointing I might add) which clearly stated we were ‘welcome to a hotel’. Not just entitled, but ‘welcome’, as I kept emphasising to this man. The queue turned into the House of Commons with lots of jeering, ‘yer’, though no-one called anyone a ‘pleb’ or fell asleep as far as I know.
Then, people started coming up to me and asking me questions. ‘I’m trying to get back to my brother’s wedding in Oz, what do I do’? ‘How do we use the food vouchers’? ‘Are we getting hotels’? I had become the people’s voice.
After about an hour of this and being told to ring the easyjet centre in the UK (helpful when it’s closed), and then speaking to the easyjet rep in Spain only for her to put the phone down on me (21:03 that went in the book for me to do absolutely nothing with later), we had a discussion in the queue about our strategy. The basis of the strategy was me saying, ‘we’ll get it sorted’, when a better strategy would have been to just shut up!
Some people had emails now from easyjet telling them accommodation was being booked for us and yet the Live Update board on the easyjet website basically said, ‘you’re on your own, fuck off. Find your own accommodation’.
It seemed there was nothing available on the island. At which point, I did what any self-respecting leader does. I sorted myself out. I arranged for us to go back to our apartment as it was empty tonight. It was only 1 bed and we did make some half arsed offers for people to stay, but only after first mentioning it was small, cramped, 1 bed but they were welcome to join us if they wanted to sleep on the tiled balcony. Everyone declined but in doing so we felt it was agreed we should go.
But how to get out of the airport? Well, this helpful security guy took us back out through security. Of course it wasn’t embarrassing to see the security lady at her station laugh at me as we went by, as they switched off the equipment and finished their shift. If you didn’t read yesterday’s blog, I basically flashed her my pants in some confused exchange about swabbing me and my stuff.
If you have every tried getting a cab at an airport that’s closed it’s not easy. Though eventually we did find one. Once back at our hotel, I enjoyed getting all the jokey status updates on Facebook about our ordeal! Thanks friends J
I didn’t want to go to work tomorrow, who does at the end of holiday, I didn’t mean like this! At least we have somewhere to stay and our flight is confirmed for 10:15am tomorrow and I found a beer in the fridge that we left for the maid. Yer, she’s not getting it. Oh and after all week of moaning there weren’t enough towels I opened a draw and found a shit load and a spare toilet roll so we didn’t have to ration out square by square yesterday being too tight to buy a 1 euro pack and leave the majority behind!