Well, I’ve never been glad to get on a plane before. Like really, really glad. We left Cardiff at 3.30pm, loads of time to get to Bristol airport in time for a mooch around the shops and a beer before boarding. Or so we thought…traffic on the M4, traffic on the M32, more traffic on the M32, more traffic on the M32…at this point we had an hour to get to the airport and thought – with a fair wind – that we might make it. Not so. Bristol had ALL THE CARS. And us.
Then we took a wrong turning – one of those horrible ones where you know it’s wrong the minute you are beyond the point of no return. Luckily we only went 50 yards before we could turn around, unluckily we had to turn into a line of almost stationary traffic.
By this time I was frantically googling for alternative flights, working out the logistics of flying from London when we needed the car to be at Bristol for our return on Monday, mentally working out available sofas for the night near all the various airports. 6 miles to go, and 20 minutes before the gate closed. That’s doable, right? Er, yes, if the cars are actually moving. Which they weren’t.
On to plan B. Easyjet didn’t seem to have any availability but I did manage to find two BA flights. Yay! From Gatwick. Not so yay! Wondering if I could remember Mr Bond’s phone number for a bed for the night – I could! Yay! Remember seeing Facebook pictures of him and various grandchildren on holiday. Bugger. Flights £267 each. Before tax. More bugger. Back to Easyjet. Nope, no availability to Prague from anywhere in the UK.
We arrived at the car park about 6pm – with the gate having closed at 17.50pm. We knew we’d missed our flight, thanks to the Iphone flight tracker. We figured that our best plan of action was to take our luggage in and see if we could book flights to Prague via somewhere else, even if it meant kipping in an airport for the night, so we trudged over to the terminal listening to our plane’s engines revving up. In fact we didn’t so much as trudge, as dawdle, talking about what we could do if we couldn’t get to Prague in the morning. (There’s no way I’m letting three and a half days childcare go to waste!)
That’s when things got interesting. We wandered in and as we thought, the screens said that the flight was boarding. But – wait – it didn’t say gate closed – worth a try maybe? No. We were met with a red ‘too late for flight’ message at the automated check in. I think I must have looked like I was about to cry because a lovely lady grabbed her card, swiped us through and told us to run. Short queue at the x-Ray. Lovely lady number two very patient as we divested ourselves of belts and bags of liquids and iPads. Lovely man at the x-Ray who decided that our bags didn’t need poking through. Lovely lady number three who went to find out our gate for us as we were shoving everything back into our cases. Lovely lady returns – gate 25 – you probably won’t make it but run! By this time my heart was in my mouth. Up the stairs! No, down the stairs! This way! Crap, it WAS up the stairs after all (sound familiar, Tanya?) Run through the duty free shop to a long and empty corridor. Get to a very, very empty gate. Alone. ALONE? What the WHAT? Run back to see where the Husband was. He was re-packing everything that had fallen out of his bag, still unzipped after the x-Ray. Run back to the very empty gate. Lovely ladies number four and five did the most speedy passport check I’d ever seen with the words ‘run!’ Out onto the empty concourse. Or apron. Or whatever the hell they call it. Run to the nearest plane, which is about to have the steps taken away. Ask the headphone and table tennis guy if it’s the right one (I’m neurotic even in adversity). It is. Run up the steps. AND WE’RE IN!
I have never, ever been so glad to see the inside of an Easyjet plane, in all my born days! And I can’t believe that we actually got on the flight – after not even rushing from the car park because we thought we’d missed it! Big thank you to the lovely folk at Bristol Airport!
And you know what the best thing was? I was so busy stressing about missing the flight, when our friends had been so amazingly generous in booking it for me in the first place, that for the first time ever I did not lose the plot as we took off!
Whoopee! I have discovered the cure for fear of flying – just trump it with the fear of NOT flying! Now for a well deserved beer…