Thursday, 22 September 2011

Trains, Planes and Linda Jack #ldconf

I do have some serious postings to write about the Liberal Democrat Liberal Conference but in the meantime here is the tale of Linda Jack and I on our journey from Birmingham to Belfast.

After conference I went to collect my case from Nitenite the hotel I was staying in (all the rooms are windowless but then I was hardly in there). I was heading towards Linda's hotel when she said did I fancy a drink at the Hyatt. So I turned back went back past the Mailbox and made my way back to the Hyatt.

We after a drink with friends headed by Taxi (I know it is not in the title...tough!) via her hotel to New Street Station. Where we ran into Hilary Stephenson from the Campaigns Department in the queue for tickets. As we tried to get unto the 17:33 train to take us to Birmingham International on platform 3A. We must have just missed it leaving, but there was one going at 17:36 from Platform 1A, I proceeded to head in the wrong direction before Linda stopped me. As we were heading down the stairs we came across Adam Stachura the new Scottish Campaigns Director.

So the three of us got unto the train and headed to the Airport. We did our Fast Check Ins then headed off to find the FlyBe package drop, which seems to be at the other end of the airport from the Monorail connection to the train station. Anyway when we got there Adam kindly let us go first as our plane was earlier than his and if there was a rush we'd need to get through quicker.

However, we discovered that Linda's company who had booked the tickets for her had not ticked the baggage option for her. So she was delayed a bit as she then had to pay the surplus charge. Then we headed up for everybody's favourite bit of airport action these days the security scan. Well I've never seen a security scan take so long. All the times I have flown from Belfast (both airports), Edinburgh and Luton in recent days at times far busier than today I have not moved so slowly towards the scanner. There may have been only three teams on, but they were the slowest three teams I have ever experienced. Plus there was room for at least 5 more queues.

It took about 20 minutes for us all to get through the scan. So we carried on through to departures where me and Linda said farewell to Adam as we had to get to Gates 1-20 in about 10 minutes. So off we trundled. Only for there to be shortly thereafter a 10 minute delay displayed on the board, followed by one of a delay to 20:30. That would leave us getting into Belfast at 21:30 so we decided it was time to eat. So we went back into the main departures lounge to get some decent, hot food.

We sat down in Yates and ordered the food, charged up both our iPhones off my Laptop and ate. I'd Foresquared our location and tagged Adam. Who comes by as we are finishing eating shocked to find us. We explained the delay and he said he would carry on window shopping. However, there was there an announcement over the tannoy, the first we'd heard for the Belfast Flight, only this was a last call. We were miles away from the gate area and hadn't finished our drinks. It was only 19:30.

We quickly packed up and started to walk briskly towards the Gates. On the long corridor down to the gates we heard a final call for passengers Glenn and Jack. Then as we got slightly further along one which was even more bitchy say "Final Call for passengers Glenn and Jack you are personally delaying this flight". I had already taken one of Linda's bags and said I would run ahead to ensure that they kept the gate open for us. This I did but the gate was the furthest I had to go. I checked in and told them that Linda was on her way. I asked about the time delay that had suddenly been cancelled without any announcement on the tannoy. I was told that the 20:30 was the time of the later flight so I was mistaken. The later flight is actually at 21:00 so unless it was miraculously half and hour earlier I doubted this.

They then proceeded to tell me to go on and if Linda, who I'd already told them was going as fast as her little legs in heels could manage. So I said, "Then I'll have to leave her back with you." I got a rather nervous, oh from the gate guard. But just about that time Linda had appeared. It was now 19:40 it had taken 10 minutes to get across the airport, at speed.

Thankfully we got unto the plane.

But as I sat down I told about the incident at the desk to the woman sat beside me. She said no it had shown a delay to 20:30, but then only about 19:20 did it call them to the gate but no announcement. Surely if you are going to change an already stated delay of over 90 minutes you should announce a correction over the tannoy not wait until you have to give a final call.

1 comment:

  1. Just a guess, but might the scanning delays have been due to the staff for five x-ray machines being at the ICC processing people for #ldconf?