The Volcanic Ash Saga

sa·ga

saga pronunciation (sä’gə)
n.

    1. A prose narrative usually written in Iceland between 1120 and 1400, dealing with the families that first settled Iceland and their descendants, with the histories of the kings of Norway, and with the myths and legends of early Germanic gods and heroes.
    2. A modern prose narrative that resembles a saga.
  1. A long detailed report: recounted the saga of their family problems.

I really could write a long detailed report about the delays caused by the volcanic ash cloud but I will spare you the pain.  I’m sure you’ve heard plenty already from the countless news reports.  We (the rest of my family and I) arrived at the check-in desk in SLC to be told that our connecting flight and the one after it had been cancelled.  We didn’t think too much of it, there are all sorts of things that can cancel a flight: aircraft problems, crew scheduling or bad weather.  We were told we could sort things out when we got to Paris so we boarded the flight non the wiser.

The flight was long, but not quite as long as on the way.  It was supposed to be nine hours and when nine hours had passed the pilot made an announcement: “For those of you who have been monitoring our progress, you will know that we should have landed by now according to our original ETA”.  He then told us that we were re-routed mid-flight because of a volcanic ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland.  Instead of flying Canada-Greenland-Iceland we went a lot further south and came in over the English Channel (do the french call it the French channel?).  This added a little over an hour to the flight.  We then landed in Paris to find total chaos.

There were people everywhere – it’s not unusual to find a lot of people in an airport but they were all over the place, hundreds of them.  Safe to say, more than normal.  We went to the luggage carousel where the airline said our luggage would be.  We waited, and waited, and waited some more.  It turns out that the airline sent us to the carousel where our luggage would be had our luggage been checked all the way through to Manchester.  In SLC they said they couldn’t check it all the way because of the cancellation.  We went to the carousel where all the luggage went for those not connecting in Paris aka final destination.  We saw the lovely sign: ‘Delivery Completed’ but that was all.  Just a shiny carousel with a severe lack of luggage.

We recovered the luggage from a nearby office and then spent the next six hours getting a hotel since we’d established that we certainly weren’t getting out of Paris the same day.  In fact, the next three nights were spent in three different hotels with the one at Disney Land being the best by far.  When we got out of the third hotel we went back to the airport with things still in a mess.  We were told by the airline we were flying with that we were now on our own even though we had a re-scheduled flight for Thursday.

I kind of understand why they had to, you can’t pull money out of nowhere.  Realising that we would spend a fortune on food and hotels until Thursday we thought it would be better spent in getting home.  We made our own arrangements and made it home long before Thursday.  I spent 42 minutes (£4.20) on the phone to ‘the airline’ to get the unused tickets refunded.  All is well and a story had been made to tell for years to come.

Across the Atlantic – Part 1

I recently crossed the Atlantic to head over to Utah to catch up with some friends and attend a church conference before I crack on with flight school.  It has been three years since I was last over and it could be a lot longer before I’m back – saying that though, if I can pop up sometime during foundation flight training while I’m in Arizona that would be a real treat.

We took a route most of us had never done before – Manchester-Paris-Salt Lake City.  My sister had done it before and the rest of us were none the wiser.  The mammoth journey started not long after I woke up at 02:30, only two hours after I went to sleep.  It reminds me of the time I went to Ireland a few hours after a Muse concert.  The drive to Manchester was fine, nothing to report there.  We checked in at about 4:45.  After spending probably thirty minutes in the line we got to the desk and were told that we had to use the electronic check-in at the back of the line.  Fortunately they said we could skip back down the line to the desk.  I would have been ever so slightly irritated had it been otherwise.

The electronic check-in machine didn’t work because we were connecting in Paris to the USA so back to the desk we went.  All sorted.  Time was short, we went straight through security, walked to the gate, sat there for ten minutes and then boarded.  The flight to Paris was fine, very quick with not much to look at.  The fun started when we arrived in Paris.  We had a couple of hours before boarding our next flight and so were looking forward to a bit of breakfast.  Thanks to the French security we had to pass through we had to say goodbye to breakfast.  They were so slow it was untrue.  No-one was in a hurry.  There were as many people going through as there were in Manchester only much much slower.  I wonder how many people the caused to miss flights.  And how many breakfasts they caused to be skipped.

A few hours into the Atlantic crossing lunch was served.