Winter of (Dis)content

TC and I congratulated ourselves on the relatively fuss-free and brilliant KLM internet check-in procedure as we were ensconced in the Airport Shuttle (also pleased that the driver found the pick-up location) en-route to Edinburgh Turnhouse Airport, replete with our bagfuls of gifts and other stuff sitting behind us.

Once more, the security checks and baggage drops seemed effortless, as we found a nook adjacent to the gate that had reclining chairs on which no one seemed willing to lie. Near-slumberous repose overtook us, until an announcement for our flight woke us into anticipation, and catapulted us into dread and unprecedented panic as we were told that this flight to Amsterdam had been cancelled due to technical faults – its obvious repercussion being that we would miss our long-haul connection back.

A horrendously long queue formed quickly behind the KLM ticket desk, whose harried and hassled staff worked to sort out 105 different connections that arose from this cancellation. A young man behind us was obviously upset at having missed his flight as well to the same place we were flying back to, and spoke with expletives peppering every sentence as he made call after call in escalating desperation, seeking other alternative flights.

A 90-minute wait in the ticket desk queue had us re-scheduled on a BMI Flight to London Heathrow, which would thereafter give us a 45-minute to an hour’s dash to another Terminal to catch the British Airways (BA 11) flight back. BMI brought us to Heathrow with no issues, or so we thought (having passed through Edinburgh’s security yet again). A 10-minute bus-ride from Terminal 1 to 4 led to a mad dash to a premier lounge that told us the BA 11 gate was closed and a boarding pass might possibly be obtained at the gate itself – and the outcome speaks for itself – where the flight was fully booked, and the computer system had either apparently bumped us off, or we were in fact, never really booked on BA 11 at all.

The hunt for KLM’s Heathrow office began before the office shut down for the night, in a version of what TC described as “The Amazing Race gone so terribly wrong”, taking us through wrong turns, closed offices, false directions, a reverse route through the surly immigration desk, (telling our story as we go along, each step lengthening it all the more) explaining why we are going through customs not having left the UK at all, and finally, the ticket desk in the departure hall.

The explanation of the missteps so far (that was starting to become the default explanation to every person we met) ensued once again.

The customer service officer booked a room with breakfast in the Hilton Heathrow without preamble, an admission that nothing more could be done for the night, and she was gone for an amazingly long time after which she had arranged everything rather pleasantly for us. Possibly pitying our ragged, vagabond state, she frankly told us that Edinburgh Airport made no mistake in the booking, but as all airlines are overbooked, British Airways had given up our seats as we had probably reached the gate too late.

An available flight next morning was to be our lucky card. TC was grudgingly impressed with the overhaul of the BA/QF flights, and while griping about the recent safety record (or lack thereof), admitted that the leg room and the entertainment system were decent – until we were told by the pilot rather apologetically that it wasn’t working. Only 3 movies could be shown at a time and while TC busied himself with “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”, the only excerpt I watched throughout the long, long flight was the last 20 minutes of “Kung-Fu Panda”.

Our bags’ location however, remains a mystery still after enquiring exhaustively at every turn.

Commiserating people have come and gone, but it was horrifyingly mind-warping to hear the family talk about this absolute nightmare as if it were a ‘good’ learning experience.

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