Dublin airport is a great place – especially at holiday time – you’ll always bump into someone.
Jayz – McGann – haven’t seen you in years … Jayz – BELIZE! – It’s far from Belize you were reared …
So thanks to his old college pal, the whole concourse knows where we’re headed. He himself, armed with wife, daughter, son-in-law, grandchild, bags, buggy and baby gear, is heading to the US. His son is a stand-up comedian and they are going to a few of his gigs. I spot an ex pupil and his family but get away with just a quick hello. I text Mary – she’s heading to Vancouver – to see if we can meet up for breakfast.
Our flight to Heathrow is at 11.00am – very civilised. We’ve actually had a full night’s sleep. Check in is a doddle. Our bags are sent all the way to Belize City so we can forget about them.
B. What you doing in Dallas tonight?
M. Eh – nothing! Its the airport hotel
10 minutes later…
B. The Bellamy Brothers are in Dallas tonight. And Gladys Knight. No mention of the Pips though.
It’s 11.10am and we’re taxiing. All good.
11.13am Ladies and gentlemen, we are returning to the airport for technical reasons.
Back we ago. We are assured it’ll take just 15/20 minutes. Well we know what that means! Its ok for a while – our connection to Dallas is at 3.30pm so we should be fine. An hour later the guy behind us is making phone calls – he’s worried about his 2.20pm connection to Heuston.
1.24pm – We finally have lift off.
In theory we could still make it but Lemony Snicket’s novel title ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ springs to mind:
-We are sitting in row 26 (out of 27!) and the exit is at the front. Most of the passengers have connections so no leeway there.
-We get off the plane at 2.31pm. The promised staff member awaiting to help people under pressure is nowhere to be seen.
-Unbelievably, the security doors close and remain so for 6 minutes. Security staff on the other side look at our boarding passes through the glass but don’t let us through.
-We have to get to Terminal 5 from Terminal 2. Due to upgrading, there is a reduced shuttle service – sorry for the inconvenience – we wait 18 minutes for the shuttle!
RUN RUN RUN
We get to the final security check. Two guys hover over the computer and check our status – unbelievably we are still on the list.
M. Can you phone through to the gate for us?
No but you’re fine – just scan your boarding pass there.
We run the 5 paces to the scanner. It doesn’t accept the boarding passes. Our 2 friends are watching but shrug their shoulders.
You’ll have to go to the BA desk over there.
So close! But this is it – the moment to stop running because there’s nothing more you can do. Bye bye Bellamy Brothers and Gladys Knight!
We trudge over to the British Airways desk. There was only one person ahead of us so we’re dealt with quickly.
That gate is closed.
M/T. But our names were only taken off now – the plane is still there.
No. The gate is closed. You have to go back to Terminal 2 to Aer Lingus.
M/T. But its a British Airways booking.
Yes – but who was late? Aer Lingus. It’s their fault. You have to talk to them.
Off we go – back to the shuttle. 18 minutes for the next one. Sorry for the inconvenience. Again! Seriously!
Back in Terminal 2 we have to go through passport control and baggage, find the Aer Lingus desk and join the queue. We check our options – NYC, Toronto, Miami, Mexico… there are a surprising number of airports with connections to Belize!
Finally at the desk, we explain the situation.
I’ll book your accommodation for tonight and we’ll see what we can get for tomorrow.
M/T. Eh no! We have to get to Belize tomorrow – we have to travel today.
There are no options today.
M/T. What about Mexico City.
We’ve no arrangement with that airline.
M/T. What about Toronto? New York? There are flights to JFK and Newark.
Tap on the shoulder … Guy behind us in queue gets involved:
I wouldn’t go near New York – there’s a snow storm due You’ll never get out.
Aer Lingus rep starts looking at the Toronto option. We can get that far but nothing available onward tomorrow for Belize.
Tap on the shoulder – our helpful friend again:
Actually New York looks ok – no snow.
After 40 minutes, we have a plan. There’s a 7.30pm flight to JFK with American Airlines. We can go from there to Atlanta at 6.00am tomorrow with Delta and on to Belize City.
We do the math – by the time we clear security in JFK it could be close to midnight. If we’re checking in at 4.00am for our connection, then there’s no point in sorting a hotel. It’s well over 30 years since we roughed it in an airport.
I can’t give you a room in New York – only here in London.
Well that’s that.
Armed with a new schedule and £28 food vouchers we move on.
Off we go to Terminal 3 to the American Airlines desk.
We can’t fine that booking – excuse me – I’ll just be a moment.
Off she goes. We can see her in deep discussion with her supervisor. 10 / 15/ 20 minutes.
There’s no record of this anywhere. We can book you to JFK but you have to sort the Delta part out.
She gives us boarding passes and directs us to the Delta Desk hidden across the terminal.
Luckily there’s no queue at the desk.
What time you flying darlin?
M. I know – have you our connections on file.
No darlin – nothing coming up here. Go to JFK. Find the Delta desk. They’ll talk to Aer Lingus.
Yes – Go. You’ll be OK darlin.
Right – We’ll chance it. Run to gate.
T. What about the vouchers?
T. We’ve £28 food vouchers for today only.
There’s a ‘Nero’ kiosk at the gate so over we run – 2 coffees, water, coke, sandwiches, crisps, 2 bars..
We get to the gate.
T. We’ve £7 left.
He disappears and arrives back with a muffin and another coke.
It’s 7.00 and for the first time in hours we sit. And eat!
We’ve been given seats at the emergency exit. Brilliant! I’m not even going to look at a movie (and I never do that!). I’m going to stretch out my legs and sleep.
As we take off, we wonder briefly if we’ll ever see our luggage again but are beyond caring. A while later, we fly over Dublin – Its taken 12 hours to get back to the start!
Ah! drinks trolley!
We’re well practiced.
M. A coke and red wine please.
T. A coke and red wine please.
I pass him the coke and take his wine. The young guy beside us orders the same. I give him a nod and a smile but apparently he’s not in on the plan and is keeping the wine for himself. Young people nowadays!
T. Look there’s the dawn.
M. Eh no. A. we’re flying west and B. I know it feels like forever but its still only 8.45pm.
Of course our lovely roomy seats are beside the loo. As the 19th person in a row trips over my feet – sorry love / you’ve a great seat there – I’m wondering whether they are mostly begrudgers, kicking me in envy.
The drinks trolley rattles past with offers of coffee. Forget that! Another red wine please.
I settle down to conk out.
Except I’m wired!
So I write this!!!