The Day My Flight Karma Turned Chameleon On Me
Written by Jaillan Yehia
As a frequent traveller I do come and go a lot (I’m a member of a pretty cultured club dontchya know). But I’ve never actually missed an international flight before, even though I’ve often deserved to. Let’s just say I’ve always had good flight karma. But today it changed its colours on me.
Just as the only place I’ve been the victim of crime is South London, not Soweto, NW1 not Nicaragua, by George of all the exotic and dramatic factors which could conspire to make me finally miss a plane, it was something as pedestrian as a hapless Network Rail employee burning their Hovis that finally did me in.
But Carrie Bradshaw-style I got to thinking of all the near misses I’ve had, and what better stories they actually make than a drizzly grey morning struggling with shrugging staff at St Pancras, and gridlock on London’s roads.
Here are my top 3 flight fiascoes – and today jumps right in at Number 1:
1. The day I missed my flight to Blog Gambia (but stood by and watched my colleagues jet away)
Usually when I fly off somewhere, no-one really cares. I’d like to think you do, but let’s face it no-one is watching that closely, or checking on me. Apart from my mum.
So when better to miss a flight than the day when I’ve announced to the world that I am going on a very big and important trip to blog about an amazing destination which is currently rather under the radar with a raft of VIBs (Very Important Bloggers).
I haven’t just let myself down, I’ve let the whole internet down.
For the first time in living memory I set two alarms, such was my paranoia about missing this trip. I got up extra early. I planned to be at the airport two whole hours before the flight. That’s my idea of a big commitment.
I’ve sauntered onto countless planes just as the final call sign is flashing, run down gangways, fought with Ryanair staff just as the door is closing about whether they’d like me to actually pour my coffee into my hand luggage to meet their one-carry-on-item requirements, I’ve argued with security staff about whether soup and ice are considered a liquid or solid (I’d actually quite like to bring steam through security if I could, just to prove a point) but on this one occasion I was confident there would be, to go Aussie on you, no dramas.
So when at 6 am, with 3 full hours until the flight, I found myself scrabbling around for ticket refunds and taxis with a bunch of randoms at St. Pancras, I thought perhaps I was still dreaming.
But the fire-alert-equals-zero-trains fiasco compounded by my bête noire in life, South London’s roads (or lack thereof) was destined to be my ultimate travel nightmare, and I got to check-in a painful ten minutes after it had closed.
Anyway, the good folks at The Gambia Experience have come through with a full week trip for myself and fellow blogger Jayne Gorman, and writer, Iain Mallory will also be in The Gambia while we’re there, so all is not lost; Gambia here I come. Better terribly late than terribly never.
2. The day I was shopping in the Monaco branch of Dior and completely lost track of time (as you do)
Monte-Carlo is a truly bizarre place. Once you’ve gawped at the super-rich, the cars parked outside the casino and paid for a ridiculously over-priced citron pressé at Café de Paris (though really you’re paying for the people watching) and maybe hit up the Jardin Exotique, there’s not a whole more to this 500 acre gilded cage. Apart from shopping.
And if there’s one word I know in every language it’s ‘sales’. Soldes. Rebajas. The magic word. Overlay this concept onto the boutiques of Monaco in late-January and you have a final reductions reverie. So there I am, living my own scene from Pretty Woman in Dior: shoes, handbags and J’Adore Dior paraphernalia scattered around me, my heart palpitating at the price tags for the right reasons for once, when it dawns on me that I have a plane to catch.
I bundle into the hire car with my boyfriend, pedal to the metal, and we make it to Nice airport by the skin of our teeth. But while I rush to the gate laden down with all our luggage and plentiful Dior bags, looking every inch the classic Cote D’Azure Aéroport client, my man does the hire car return run solo, coming back through the airport alone.
But ‘why eez zeez Rostbif on eez own weez no femme et pas de baggages?’ the sécurité ask themselves before carting him off to the dreaded ‘little room’, causing him to manqué l’avion, and by extension making me miss the plane too.
I could have boarded the flight with my Dior boots for company, but I selflessly waited. Just saying.
3. The day I missed my flight even though I was already in the airport. Naked.
My Priority Pass is one of my most treasured possessions. Forget ‘once you go Mac you won’t go back’. Once you go lounge you learn the art of the scrounge. If I go to an airport and don’t use the lounge to its fullest I feel disappointed in myself.
During my trip to South Africa I fell in love with a few things. Vide e Caffe coffee. Patience, my safari guide, Franchhoek’s wineries. But above all the lounge at Joburg airport, which due to an internal-flight-heavy itinerary became somewhat of a permanent home to me. Maybe I got too comfortable.
With some down time between flights I decided to make full use of the luxurious shower facilities. I’d had a shower before leaving the hotel that morning, and would have one at the hotel I was heading to, but what can I tell you – there were fluffy towels and complimentary shower gels and I wanted to get the smell of plane off me, so I hopped in.
I had my boarding card, with the gate number written on it, I’d checked where the gate was and it was directly below the lounge, a five second elevator ride away, so even though I was cutting it fine, I had time. What could possibly go wrong?
Apart from the fact that for the first time in my life the gate number printed on my boarding pass in real ink and everything turned out not to be the right gate after all. And nor did the gate I was shown to next. The secret real gate turned out to be down the hall under a sign for a different destination, and was closing just as I finally walked up to it and saw the doors of the shuttle bus close in my face.
That was an internal flight so there was another one along in a minute (well two hours), but I’ve haven’t got that comfy in a lounge shower since.
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