Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Flight #1 cancelled, #2 delayed, #3 missed

Summer vacation means busy airports. So we make sure to be there in good time. There being no check-in queue, we find ourselves in Copenhagen airport's departure hall way too early to have a gate assigned. So we just stroll around while waiting for a gate. Waiting for a gate in fact till 17:10 our planned departure time. At which point we're finally told that Maersk has cancelled its flight to Frankfurt. No reason given. We're just redirected to a service desk, where they're not quite prepared to face a whole flight of stranded passengers demanding a solution. However, all other direct flights to Frankfurt are fully booked. But they assure us they'll get us there no matter how nor when.

In our case that means we're rerouted to Prague first, at 18:25, on a SAS flight, stuffed in the tail end between the MD80's two engines. That's a very noisy place. But hey, we're flying. And with a bit of luck we should make it to Frankfurt, even though only half an hour before our flight to Singapore. We've been told to go for it, change terminals as quickly as possible and run for the gate upon arrival in Frankfurt. And just forget about our luggage...

In Prague's rather provincial airport, there's no personnel at our supposed departure gate. 20:35, our planned departure time, comes and goes without any information whatsoever. Until at 20:50 we're being told that our flight will be leaving at 22:00. Meaning there's no way we can make the Singapore flight. We've been told repeatedly that all subsequent flights to Singapore are fully booked. The little hope we'd left, now totally evaporates. At last we're on our way to a city we no longer have any reason to go to. It's 23:30 when Czech air drops us in Frankfurt's deserted airport. Our luggage is actually waiting for us by the time we make it to the belt. But it's too late to get anything done. All airline offices being closed, we head for the airport's Sheraton hotel, only to find out that there's some international football match in town and not a single room's available. However, one of the clerks knows about a small family run hotel only 5' from the airport, at 140 Euro for a double room, half the Sheraton's price. A bargain we sure hope to get paid back. A bit later a friendly Turkish looking man picks us up and cramps us in his old Mercedes together with another traveler. It's hot and humid as we drive through the night to the Taubengrund hotel. It could be any town, almost anywhere. The room's decent enough, and after a quick shower I just crash into bed.

Next morning, as we have breakfast in the Mediterranean looking dining room, Marianne calls Singapore airlines. What was just totally impossible yesterday, is no problem at all today. We can fly at 12:35! With our luggage. Once again we have a holiday, thanks to Singapore airlines' helpful attitude. We're given a ride back to the airport, where check-in is a breeze, making it all real. The flight is on time, we've got decent seats, with private view-when-you-want movie displays, the food's pretty good and we even land on time. Only 12 hours later than originally scheduled.