Looking back there are far too many personal blogs here, I promise something more serious (on Cynefin and the complexity domain) later this week. But the events of today deserve recording. It starting off well, a weekend of two wonderful walks, recovering from the bug and a great day yesterday. I got up around 0800 packed in a leisurely manner for a two week trip and my son drove me to the airport getting me there 75 minutes before flight time which for me is very very relaxed. At the passport check British Airways gave me the good news that I had been upgraded to first class for the flight to Philadelphia and could use the Concorde Lounge. I almost wished I had turned up earlier as that is a nice lounge but that worked out as well as the flight was delayed 40 minutes which gave me time to savour luxury. I only had a two hour drive when I landed to my hotel in Gettysburg so that was fine. At the due time I sauntered down to the gate, got on the plane and prepared for eight hours of comfort and a concerted attempt to reduce the email.
The Gods of travel were however just playing with me, making it seem so good to ensure that the contrast would be all the more painful. Things started to go wrong. As we taxied out the pilot came on and said there was a fault, nothing serious but it needed to be checked. So we pulled over, the engineers came on and after an hour we set off again. I was still OK at this stage. Then the pilot came on with the opening line There is no good way to say this and announced that the fault had recurred. Back we go to the terminal and we are discharged into the C wing of Terminal 5. To get back to the lounge while they work out what to do involves descending to the train, but then going through a fire exit and walking down a stuffy service tunnel, but at least it avoided going through security. Back in the lounge BA came clean and announced that the flight was cancelled.
I was fifth in line at the service desk but it still took an hour to get to the front and the queue behind me was getting mutinous. Fortunately I know enough about the east coast to know that more or less anywhere will allow me to make it. Baltimore, Newark or even JFK would do at a pinch. I get the last seat on Virgin which is good, but it also means struggling through another service corridor, being escorted down to the transit area and then going through security again in Terminal 3. Its now 1800 and I have been messing around this airport for the best part of six hours. I enter the queue to check in for Virgin and I am met by a petty minded bureaucrat who will now allow me through without a paper print of my return journey, the one on the iPad is not enough. So I join a BA queue for another hour (they are still doing the Philly cancellation and another one from Cathay Pacific so you can imagine the mess). One slip of paper later and I am allowed to check in.
Now I have never flow with Virgin before but I have heard good things of the lounge and it lives up to its reputation. By now G&T is required for medicinal purposes. I only have twenty minutes but I make the most of it. Then to the plane, which to be honest looks like something form the 1980s. I am sure the seat layout was original when it was produced but now its small and cramped and uncomfortable despite being called Upper Class so God knows what it was like in economy. I get out my Bose headset and the two pin adapted falls down into the seat mechanics and cannot be recovered. Virgin get me a replacement but its at two to one not a one to two. By this time I can't face telling them so I bolt down the reheated rice and brown source (it had a fancy name in the menu but that description is being generous). I have to drive 200 miles so I can't have any more alcohol which is a tragedy.
So I sleep fitfully until they wake us up ONE HOUR before landing. This is nonsense, American leave it until the last twenty minutes, and I could have been in first class. I leave my passport and hat on the side of the seat and sleep again, even through the seat is upright. We land at Newark and I discover that my passport is missing. Enquiries reveal a steward picked it up and put it in a cupboard but then forgot on landing. By the time that is sorted, I am now last off the plane rather than first off with all the consequences for immigration lines. Finally at midnight I get to the Hertz lot, pick up the car and head West. There are no Starbucks, no coffee, its a nightmare. But I finally make it to the hotel at 0400 collapse into bed and get four hours sleep before the alarm goes off and I prepare for the morning's lecture.
That went well, but more on that tomorrow. At least nothing else went wrong, yet ….
Cartoon courtesy of Gaping Void