Standing in an air conditioned Italian airport after a week in Tuscany with my wife and 1 year old daughter we were relieved to be out of the 102 degree heat outside. We’d had a great time but were more than ready to get home via a relatively short flight back to London Gatwick.
The flight was at a pleasant 9am and all seemed to be going well until the time to board came and went, and then went some more. Almost 2 hours passed without the slightest information until, all of a sudden, the gates opened and we flooded onto the plane…I shall leave it to the pilot to take you through what happened next.
11:00am: “ Apologies for the delay” came the voice from the cockpit “but unfortunately we hit a seagull on the descent into the airport and we’ve had to have the engines inspected! We’ll be able to start the engines again shortly and get the air con working for you.“
“Thank God!” was the general consensus of his passengers. Not the bit about the engine starting (though that was welcomed) but the turning on of the air-con as it was like sitting in a…well a metal tube when it’s over 100 degrees outside. People were starting to sweat before they had even got in their seats.
11:15pm: “Sorry for the delay but someone disconnected the external power supply to the plane and shut all our systems down – we’ve just spent the last 15 minutes rebooting and checking everything but we are now pretty much ready to go and we’ll get that air-con going for you“
WTF – it is seriously hot now but luckily we’ve just been offered half a cup of tepid water! My daughter is in a heat induced coma but this small consolation cannot last long – let’s get going!
11:20pm: “Erm, it seems that whilst we’ve been sitting here no one thought to actually put any fuel in the plane so we are going to have to wait a while whilst we get that sorted. We’ll need to leave the engines off and open the doors whilst we do this so sorry about this and the lack of air con – I know it’s getting hot back there“
This is the great-great-grandmother of all understatements!
12:00pm: “Hi, this is your Captain here, we are now fully loaded with fuel so…erm, ladies and gentlemen, it would also appear that no one has thought to load your bags onto the plane. I’m very sorry but there’s going to be a delay whilst we get that sorted for you.“
There is nothing to say at this point..partly through stunned silence but also the fact that opening our mouths would take away the last few ounces of fluid in our bodies.
12:35pm: “This is your captain again, we have your bags loaded now so we are ready to depart. Un-fort-u-na-tely the man who is supposed to manoeuvre this plane away from the stand refused to wait JUST 5 MINUTES for us and has gone off to lunch! We are trying to find someone else who might be slightly more accommodating.“
This was the final straw – camel…back….broken!!!! That’s it I thought, I am going to boycott anything Italian when I get home out of protest…well, maybe not pasta, or chorizo…hmm or pizza. Dammit, I just won’t buy an Alfa Romeo!
Finally we heard the words we longed to hear:
12:45pm “Yes folks, you’re not dreaming, we are actually moving…let’s get you home“
On landing the pilot came out to personally bid farewell to his sweat stained passengers. As we shuffled passed with our 1 year old in just her nappy and sweat flattened hair he just said “Oh God, I am so sorry”.
Next: A Child Called Chicken