Chronicles of ridic(ulous)
Low cost flight companies always recommend that you’re there at check-in 2 hours in advance. So there I stood in row 7 in front of the blinking logo of Eastern Airways, a British company based in Aberdeen. In the queue waiting there was... well, no-one but me ! The nice employee at the check-in counter warned me : "once inside, it’s badly indicated". “So, when you reach the bar place”, she said,” look for the Redbull advert and go one level down to gate 82”. Nice, I thought, that will remove unnecessary stress from my head. So I went down with a smile, walking along empty corridors lined up with empty gates till I reached 'my' boarding lounge at gate 82. Surprisingly, there were other people there and a lady employee sitting behind the boarding desk... But no plane !
So I started to read a magazine, checking the clock from time to time. Twenty minutes later, there was still no plane awaiting us. At take off time, a man stood up and bravely went to the desk to ask what was happening. I could tell by the lady’s smile that she had an answer ready. So I read on her lips: “the plane has just landed, won’t be long now.” The man walked away and I kept on reading.
Things stired up a bit when an airport shuttle arrived triumphantly and parked outside. A man in a flashy yellow suit knocked on the outside door with a look that meant "I won't tell you twice". The lady turned around and nodded. Then she switched on her microphone with the pride of an Olympic winner. Her voice was loud and clear as she made her announcement : “ Ladies and Gentlemen, the international flight to Southampton is now ready for boarding at gate 82”. The next few minutes were surreal because nobody moved at all. I decided to grab my bag and went up to the desk and asked : “Good afternoon, am I the only one, then ?”. The lady replied with a slightly offended tone “far from it, Madam”. She tore my boarding pass and I admired her incredible sense of humour.
In fact, there were 5 of us to go and sit in the shuttle, me included. A very restless middle aged lad, a businessman, a rather fit young chap and a totally unfit old lady whom, I thought, might not make it up the very shuttle. Then the most mysterious thing happened : the shuttle went all the way around the airport ground. We visited all the boarding gates to the point that I thought it would never stop. But eventually, we stopped in front of a lovely small plane.
It was the kind of planes A-list people fly in magazines. And indeed there was more staff around it then the 5 of us ! Once onboard, we got immediately re-seated in the same area at the back of the plane. I suppose it’s a question of balance but I couldn’t help thinking : “that’ll make it easier when they try and identify our bodies after the crash”.
Fair is to say it was a lovely flight. The steward was ever so nice and dedicated, it was worth a 4 stars resort. I’m used to the Ryanair bulldog kind of service, you see. So it was really cool. First off, he offered us a drink and I thought to myself : “God, he’s going to charge me 20 euros for that”. But, no, I got a glass of real coke instead with ice cubes and a slice of fresh very fresh lemon. Then we got treated with crisps and biscuits. In the end we got a hot steamy towel which made this low cost flight the oddest experience ever.
When we landed in Southampton airport and got in, our suitcases were there before us... stuck at the very start of a non moving luggage track. The old lady was scratching her head as the young athletic guy plunged under a bar and passed her on her suitcase. “Do you mind ,” I said pointing at my bag and giggling. “Not at all” he said with a large smile. And that was a very funny ending for a very unusual but pleasant flight.
Ah, by the way, Eastern Airways are flying 6 days out of 7 from Southampton to Brussels and back ! I recommend that you try that one day...