An email I got by my girlfriend on the way home for Christmas ….
Oh my God. You have to be here to understand how bad this airport experience is.
- I arrived in Gatwick at 5am looking for check-in section B. Turns out it’s a side exit to the basement and there’s a single file queue to get to the lovely basement.
- No problem. Cos my flight leaves at 6.55. I have plenty of time (for a change). I can handle this. There is a desperately loud Aer Lingus lady shouting “Faro, Faro anybody for Faro”? Of the 600 people queueing some shuffle and squash their way past into the basement to get to Faro where nothing else moves in the queue. Faro at some point gets turned into Malaga, which evetually turns into Munich. An hour later the lady’s not hoars, and I am really looking forward to make it to the basement check-in. Not long now, surely. How many destinations does Aer Lingus fly..?
- Yay. Finally my turn. All this waiting has paid off. I can now see the 6 check-in desks. I observe how even though we’ve been treated like cattle (eager to be hearded but going nowhere) people are being told off for the extra bag, oversize bags and heavy bags. I’m told I’ve got 10kg too much. Marco’s records get transferred from the suitcase to the rucksack. Is there a point to shifting it from one bag to the other, other than avoiding paying 27 pounds? Doesn’t it all go on the same plane? Hopefully. Maybe not though… Oh hold on. My bag’s not going anywhere because the Aer Lingus conveyor belt is not moving. Oof. Could we be facing a Suitcase Disaster in the Basement? An engineer gets called by the loud Aer Lingus lady. Poor her. She has a lot of responsibilities. They try to proceed with check in by shouting asking if there are any passengers with no luggage. I watch with interest. No. Not a single one. Guess nobody wants to show up at Christmas with no gifts. Good stuff. Ahhhh…it’s moving. Good good. Because according to my boarding pass the Gate closes in 30 minutes.
- So quick quick out of the basement and into another queue for the xray machine. Oooh, it’s all going well so am sure there may even be time for some airport shopping? Hmmm maybe not. Don’t want the plane to take off without me. How come I’m worried about missing a 6.55 flight even though I got here at 5am? Hmmm…Christmas and Aer Lingus seem inefficient. Xray guys make me take off my boots. Oh, you guys were so close to flawless. Never mind. You’re pretty damn amazing in comparison to your other airport buddies today.
- Bummer. My flight has been delayed. By one and a half hours. Oh well time for shopping. Yay, yay, yay. Am spending money and doing shopping which I didn’t have time for in London but the experience seems hollow despite what I try to make of it. These 10kg records that I am carrying on my back have now transformed me airport cattle experience to airport mule. This thing is heavy.
- I think I’m allowed to sit down now to bend my back back into its natural shape, cos I’ve spent quite a bit of money on I’m not sure what as I’m feeling pretty tired and disinterested now. I think I’ve paced it all well though as I now only have 40 minutes left before my new Gate opens. Ok. Shoot. Setback. I’m sitting next to a big plastic bubble. The man who just started talking into the mic in front of the bubble is trying to get people to volunteer to sing. He calls is Gatwick Factor, like X Factor at Gatwick. That’s ok. Nobody in their right mind would sing at this time of day in Gatwick airport. No…not even the flights to see the Northern Lights that you are offering Gatwick Factor man. Nobody…good. I sense solidarity in this empty airport to combat stupidity.
- Oh. One person climbs into the plastic bubble and starts to sing. No, that’s normal. Because she’s a teen and maybe this is ‘her moment’ for her. She’s making me feel more perky anyway cos the song is a crazy teeny bop song. It doesn’t disprove my theory or break the solidarity against stupidity.
- Oh f. Despite it taking Gatwick Factor man a good 10 minutes to find another volunteer it looks like this out of tune singing has a steady stream of equally unable singers. I hear Grease Lightning (seriously, why do you eant to sing Grease Lightning- it’s an embarassing song), I hear Umbrella. You really sound shit. And I’m getting really f@@ed off having to listen to this sh!t. I woke up at 3am and this is harassment.
- Oh my God. Why are you telling me to go to the main information desk for refreshments. Aren’t we only slightly delayed boarding for the new time? Surprise! There’s a queue for refreshments! God it’s long. How come everybody’s so keen to queue for three pounds? Not me. Oh interesting. The white board says I’m delayed by another hour and half. I didn’t realise there was a while board at the airport. Isn’t this why we have so many monitors? Maybe not because the monitors still say that I’m supposed to take off at 8.30 and the white board says I’m supposed to take off at 9.50. But no guarantees I suspect, hey? And why are only the Aer Lingus flights this heavily delayed? Or maybe it’s chaos for everybody and you just can’t trust what the monitors are suggesting.
- Write to Adrian. He’ll worry a little but sharing is good. Oh. His text reads “Welcome to Vienna”. Ok, here goes. Another Gatwick Factor singer sings “I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind”. Honestly?
- Oh my God was that “Last remaining passengers to Vienna…” have I been ranting so long already? Run mule, run, run, run. You can do it. Run away from Gatwick Factor and the cramped basement and the not working conveyor belt, the not working screens, the insanity. Run! Happy Chrismas everybody. I’m getting out of this jungle!
then some time …..
Who owns the blue bag the stewardess is holding up? Confess! Get off the f@@ing plane. You and your blue bag! Show yourself! I need to get out here! I need to get out of here! Why what? There’s a problem with the computer system? Oh you found the error. We haven’t missed our slot. Good. What was that thing with the blue bag? I no longer have to find the owner of the blue bag?
I am laughing hysteric nervously all by myself in seat 18C. Nothing funny really. Never mind me.