Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The first few faltering steps to global travel...

I'd managed to pack my life into 3 boxes and a reasonably sized backpack. I'd done the paperwork and booked the flights. I'd finished work after a long three-month notice period. All I had to do now was get in the air and head to Jersey for the first stop on my RTW trip.

Easier said than done it appears. The train was on time, security at Gatwick was relatively stress free (although why they need to x-ray flip-flops is still beyond me) and I'd made it to the departure gate in very good time. All was well and good. Until we'd taxied out to the runway that is.

The nose of the plane was virtually touching the runway when we came to an abrupt stop. 30 seconds later and we were surrounded by 4x4s with flashing lights. Fortunately, they weren't police cars or the anti-terror squad but a bunch of engineers who'd been dragged away from their morning bacon butties and tea to get to the bottom of why the steering had failed on the plane.

15 minutes later they were non the wiser so we were towed back to a stand. 30 minutes later and they'd worked out what the problem was and were on the hunt for a replacement part. As you'd expect, said spare part was currently 'out of stock' on the airfield.

Plan B came into force: how to move 150 people from one plane to the plane next to it...a distance of about 15 metres.'d think! But then there's airport security to contend with. The Captain's initial idea was for us to leave the plane, enter the departure lounge and walk across to the next gate to board the new plane. A good idea...until the security boffins pointed out that it was an international departure lounge and we, as domestic passengers, weren't allowed to mix with them.

Plan B.2. The Captain arranges a bus to pick us up and transport us 15m to the next plane. It first had to remove 3 business passengers who were likely to miss important meetings in Jersey. They were put on any available plane that was heading that way. It then returned to transport half the crew so that they could start setting up the new plane, and then shuttled between our plane and the new plane to transfer us and the remaining crew.

Then there was the catering issue: apparently for 'security reasons' it's not possible to merely transfer the trolley from one plane to the next so you have to order a whole new trolley of drinks and nibbles for the new plane. Bearing in mind it's a 30minute flight it was an awful lot of fuss for a dodgy cuppa and a packet of weird nutty things crammed with E numbers and preservatives.

Three hours and one slightly nerve wracking flight later and I finally arrived home in Jersey to commence my trip.

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