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An inauspicious start

We were meant to leave at 9:15 Tuesday evening for our Sydney > Abu Dhabi > London > Madrid > Valencia trip. As it was our first trip with Hamish – and a rather lengthy one to start with – we arrived early. Though it was past Hamish’s bed time, he was in a good mood and quite happy to stand in queue to check in. While in line, an Etihad rep started coming through saying that the plane had arrived but there was a problem and they were holding off continuing check-in until they were given the all clear.

About 15 minutes later, the queue started again. When we were right near the front the queue stopped again. This time we waited maybe 30 minutes. Hamish was no longer interested in standing in line. Enter must-travel-with item 1: the sling. After only a little effort, he was asleep.

We were eventually checked in and thought we were home free. Then the announcement came that the flight had been cancelled and everyone was to proceed to the desk for information. Through the gate we went, out to passport control (which wasn’t even staffed, so we had to wait for them to get organised), out to pick up our only recently-checked-in luggage, and out through arrivals.

There we waited – and waited – for someone to tell us where the shuttle bus was for the hotel. After getting fed up, and with a now awake and fairly cranky Hamish, I headed outside and looked far left. There I spotted a bus. I went in and grabbed the boys and off we were taken to the hotel. (God only knows how long everyone else had to wait. I was going to say something but was afraid of starting a stampede.) We checked in around midnight and were told to not be back down in the lobby any later than 6:45.

Though the bus didn’t actually come until 7:30 (and in fact those going through to London were not meant to catch the shuttle until 9:30), we made it back to the airport, only to queue for another 2 hours or so. (Enter the sling once more.) We made it to the front of the queue only to be told that because we booked through Virgin and not Etihad, they had to rebook us. So over to a ‘holding area’ for another hour or more until Virgin contacted Etihad with our new flight information – flying Qantas at 4:30 that afternoon, via Singapore.

While we waited for the Qantas desks to open, we had to rebook our second leg, London to Valencia via Madrid, that we were going to miss due to the cancellation. Only $1800 later, we had new flights from London to Valencia via Paris (Charles de Gaulle). More on that later.

Now for the silver lining: our seats on Qantas were in premium economy. Bigger seats, champagne while waiting for take-off, fantastic food. For a total of 21 hours, flying with a toddler who doesn’t have a seat of their own, this was absolute luxury and made the 22 hour delay in our arrival almost worth it. To top it off, Hamish couldn’t have been better behaved.

We should have known it wasn’t over yet. We arrived in London with no further incidents. We enjoyed a nice break, sipping drinks and waiting for our flights to Paris and Valencia. Our stop in Paris was quite tight but the lady we talked to assured us she does it all the time, and that we shouldn’t have any problems making the connection.

We arrived in Paris, found our next gate, and started walking. Charles de Gaulle appears (in hindsight) to be more or less a circle. We followed the signs to our next gate, which took us the the long way around this circle. As we kept going and going, and the time was starting to slip by, we started to jog. Not an easy thing to do with Duncan having our carry-on luggage, and me carrying Hamish. We made it to security and there was a queue. Our flight was to leave in about 20 minutes. I’ve never been so grateful to know French. They whisked us through and we made it on with seconds to spare. Unfortunately, as we were to find out when we reached Javea, Duncan’s bag didn’t.

And there ends the travel saga part one. Next, our actual holiday.

Waiting for second leg at Heathrow

3 Responses to “An inauspicious start”

  1. Robin Ramer
    September 15th, 2011 00:50
    1

    OMG — what a beginning to your story — looking foward to the next chapter. I think I found Duncan’s bags — under his eyes! Not hard to understand based on the sequence of events. And jogging?! I could have done that too — NOT! Love Aunt Robin

  2. Mark
    September 15th, 2011 03:42
    2

    I love that look of fear in Dunc’s face. It’s the look of a former status flyer adjusting to life as a normal pleb. I know that look well..

  3. Duncan Campbell
    September 15th, 2011 17:59
    3

    I was never a “status flyer” Mark – always been a pleb. Just a more tired pleb these days…

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