So, this year’s solo trip didn’t start as I’d hoped. After setting my alarm for 0315 and making sure that my lift to the airport was also awake, I arrived at Manchester Airport shortly after 0400 – an ungodly hour to be functioning on all cylinders. The day before there had already been broadcasts on the news about problems with the UK’s Air Traffic Control systems, but an email from Jet2 the evening before advised me to turn up at the airport at the expected time – so that I did.
We arrived at Manchester Airport Departures and the outside of the terminal building was just a sea of people – hundreds of them. ***** ******* ******! and other expletives fell from my mouth. Son No 2 offloaded my case from the boot of his car whilst I grabbed my hand luggage from the back seat. I just gawped at the crowd trying to fathom where the queue began and where it ended. I turned back towards Son No 2 who wished me luck and then swiftly disappeared before I had a chance to gather my thoughts.
Just in front of me was a couple who had just disembarked from a taxi. Somewhere along the edge of the crowd was an airport representative who asked the couple which airline they were flying with. The man responded “Jet2” and was promptly directed to the lifts and told to go to the basement floor. As I was with the same airline I followed them.
“Thank heavens that we’re not flying with Easyjet” I said to them tipping my head towards the crowd. By now we are inside the lift and heading down to the basement. “Hang on a minute” says the wife. “We are flying with Easyjet!” “But you just told the lady upstairs that you are flying with Jet2.” I replied.
Ooops! Having worked at the airport for several years I do know how the airport experience can result in common sense being thrown out of the window. It can be a stressful experience and today even more so! I wish them luck as I leave them to take the lift back up to where they began. I knew that my own experience wasn’t going to be straightforward either. As I arrived at the Jet2 Departure area, passengers were being signposted by staff to one of several queues. There was one long queue that didn’t seem to be going anywhere and Yep – that was the queue for the Athens flight!
We queued for around 2 hours. The most it did was shuffle forward about ten feet. Information about what was happening was non-existent. The Jet2 staff were towing the party line with a standard response that they didn’t know anything and told us to keep an eye on the boards. Although I’d left plenty of time to catch my onward flight from Athens, any further delays would put my other flight in jeopardy.
I fell into a conversation with a group of people who also had an onward flight from Athens. They were going to a wedding that was to take place on Friday on Astypalea and one of them was the parent of the groom! They had already started talking about other ways to get to Astypalea if the flight was cancelled. Unfortunately, the next Jet2 flight to Athens was scheduled for Sunday – two days after the wedding was due to take place. They had options though and amongst their party were a couple of Greeks who were already looking at the ferry options via Kos.
By the end of the second hour we finally got word that the flight was cancelled and to re-confirm this I received a text message to say the same. No offer of an alternative was offered but I was to expect a refund. I know from the Covid years that Jet2 were one of the best airlines at processing refunds very quickly. However, that leaves me with a flight from Athens that I can’t catch and also a week’s worth of accommodation that I’d booked on a non-refundable basis. I’d only booked it days a week earlier convinced that nothing could go wrong in that short space of time. Oh well – sometimes it is all in the lap of the gods.
To be completely honest, I was relieved that the flight had been cancelled. In the weeks leading up to my planned departure, I’d been very busy with work, had lots of other family-related issues and frankly, I was completely stressed out. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for travelling (which is very unusual) so in a way, this was a blessing.
After taking time to regroup, I plotted out another itinerary. The trip will still be 6 weeks in duration and will include the same Northern Aegean destinations I’d originally planned but somewhat jiggled about.
Fingers crossed that this trip goes to plan. Well, I’ve made it through to the departure lounge!