The Red Eye

March 21, 2011 at 10:47 am Leave a comment

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I hate this trip. The trip to Prague. It used to be so simple when Czech airlines used to operate a direct flight out of Manchester. But now they don’t. So now I have to do a little “hop” via Frankfurt. Frankfurt being my least favourite airport for connections.

It was an early start. The cat looked at me as if I was stupid when I woke him as I went downstairs to put the water on. I didn’t fancy a cold shower. I toileted, shaved, showered, and dressed with my eyes closed.

In fact, I think I only opened my eyes briefly to drive to the airport. I was chasing the dawn and scattering bunny rabbits as I went, and made reasonable time despite getting stuck behind a tractor briefly.

I normally wouldn’t have left so timely. I like to minimize the time I waste at airports. But, this is a three-day trip and I had to drop my bag off. I was glad that I had made the extra effort this morning.

My stress levels began to rise when I saw the queue to the car park at Terminal 1. It was backed up past the ramp and onto the road. I have no idea what was causing the jam but I was stuck in it and going nowhere. Stuck behind a panel van that was scraping every height restriction warning sign as he went before he finally realized he was going nowhere,and pulled over to the side to examine his scratched van roof and scratching his noggin about how on earth he was going to get out. Of course, his stopping did nothing to ease the queuing for the car park. Eventually I made it – the bulk of the traffic had been for the drop off lane. Thankfully the barrier reader read my credit card correctly and let me in (it doesn’t always) and I soon parked and hurried to my check in desk to drop the bag.

My stress levels rose again and were joined by my hackles as I joined the Lufthansa queue. A queue that was very long and not moving. It soon became clear that the automatic check in desks were down. As was the system for checking the bags in. And so I stood in a queue and shared in the collective frustration and growing sense of panic as first the Munich flight and then my own to Frankfurt approached their boarding times and people began to push forward in the queue and jumping barriers.

Eventually the system came back up and the very hassled looking staff called those of us in the Munich and Frankfurt flights forward. I dumped my bag, got my sticker for the fast lane and hurried to security, where I queued behind an elderly gentleman who had clearly never left his home before in his life and was either profoundly deaf or foreign or both and was unable to follow the instructions given to him by the security guy.

Eventually he passed through and I was able to extricate my laptop, remove my jacket and belt etc and make it through security without further delay. Which was no bad thing as they were already announcing the final call for my flight.

And so, I abandoned all ideas that I had had for buying a newspaper, getting some currency, and dashed to my gate, just in time and stressed to the eyeballs.

And now I am trying to avoid killing the lad sat next to me in the middle seat. I have been very kind to him so far because he is young – I’d say about eight – and has clearly been separated from his family. I even helped him with his luggage as we are sat in the emergency exit row. But, since take-off he has become increasingly bored and fidgety and keeps knocking my arm, snorting and playing with his cup and now I have his even younger brother stood next to me in the aisle and engaging him in conversation. They are German…..

There is a God! Fidgety boy has just been moved. Apparently the trolly dollies (otherwise not worth mentioning) have only just realized that he is not traveling with either of us two adults either side of him and that he is below the minimum age (fifteen) of responsibility to be in the emergency exit row. If there had been an emergency he could have put me in danger! If he’d lived that long.

So, I’ve had my blueberry muffin, and my luke warm coffee and I’m missing my Sudoku and trying not to think of the yomp around Frankfurt airport which awaits……

Well that was bizarre. We landed in Frankfurt without incident. I did the fidgety boy a favor and carried his luggage to him. And my good deed was repaid in kind. I did not have to yomp across the airport for fifty minutes to get my connecting flight. Instead, I was greeted at the bottom of the steps by a not unattractive fraulein, who checked my boarding pass and ushered me onto a special bus for those of us destined for Prague. This bus took us to a distant part of the airport where we disembarked, went through a passport control, got onto another bus, disembarked, walked through the bowels of the terminal before arriving at the gate, getting on another bus before disembarking to get on the plane. Much more civilized than yomping and very Germanic in its efficiency!

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