So, I’m stranded in Canberra.
It occurs that the majority of the people that actually read this blog on any sort of regular basis may have already been informed of my detainment by way of Facebook, Twitter, email or phone calls.
I thought I’d put the details of what happened down here so that next time someone asks, I can just point them to the url. I know that’s super-impersonal, but it’s also super-practical. Which is super-awesome.
So, I was sent to Canberra to visit one of our client’s offices and meet the team. I spent the two days working with them to complete the testing that they need to do, improve their processes and to generally improve our relationship with them. You know, because I’m such a charismatic guy.
Having done what I had come to do, I made my way back to the airport via taxi to get myself back on a plane to Hobart. I was looking forward to my return home as I missed my wife and my own bed. I had already checked in on the internet, so I checked the departures list and made my way up to the departure lounge to wait for a chance to board the plane.
I had a beer and sat reading the latest copy of PC PowerPlay. It wasn’t until about ten minutes before my scheduled boarding time that I bothered to have another look at the departures screen. My flight was still listed as boarding at 4:30pm, but it had **CANCELLED** listed under the Remarks column.
How long had that been written there?! I didn’t hear an announcement! Maybe I got the flight number wrong? Nope. It’s right. Maybe the screen is wrong? I’ll wait for a few more minutes. Maybe the rest of the flight was going to be filled with a huge sporting team whose bus was late? Maybe I’m getting flown back on one of those awesome and tiny twin-engine jobbies? Maybe I should go ask at the check-in desk.
The line was immense.
Time passed. I could hear raised voice at the front of the line.
Time passed. I could see people walking away from the desks. Some were shaking their heads, some crying, some making angrycalls, but most of them simply looked resigned to their fate.
I knew what the guy behind the counter was going to say before he got a chance.
I was herded over to a free corner of the airport along with the other lost sheep. There was a very polite and apologetic Virgin rep going around and getting details from each of the passengers that had been stranded. She assured me that she would do her best to find us accommodation and gestured to the team of staff members behind the service desk, all frantically making phone calls and taking notes.
One of the service managers came over to us and told us that they’d found accommodation for the first group of people and that families, special needs and elderly passengers would get the first rooms available.
I settled in for the evening.
I decided to go off in search of a phone charger. Mine had died and I was desperate to call Amy and let her know that I wasn’t going to be coming home that night after all. One rip-off later and I was holding the most expensive phone charger known to man in my hand (to it’s credit, it did have an LED on it that would light up when under power), wandering around the airport looking for a free power point. Evidently I wasn’t the only person with a flat phone battery.
Ages passed. I think I saw a dog go through the entire fossilisation process.
Finally, the service manager came over and rounded up the last of the passengers in need of accommodation He told us that we would be jumping on the bus and making our way to our accommodation: The “Tourist Hotel”. The name did not instil confidence.
Upon arrival, I walked into the Tourist (or the Terrorist, as my fellow passengers had affectionately dubbed it) along with the six other lost souls.
The gentleman behind the bar took one look at us and said “F***! How many of you bastards are there?! I’ve only got room for four!”. I slung my hopes over my shoulder, their services no longer needed in the light of this new evidence, and told him that we were assured that there was room here for us.
A few minutes later he decided that he could indeed fit us in, albeit in less than desirable circumstances. The group consisted of three women and four men. The three women-that-didn’t-know-each-other were put into the triple room (one double bed and one single), while the four-guys-who-didn’t-know-each-other were put into the double (two sharing the double bed, one on the couch, one on the floor). I decided to forgo my valuable floor space and bid my team adieu. One long and expensive taxi trip later and I was back in Kingston, knocking on the door to the company apartment asking for some couch space.
So here I am, sitting in the Canberra Virgin Blue Lounge, once again waiting for a chance to board a plane which is allegedly running on time. The difference this time is that now I’m eating and drinking on Virgin’s tab. The staff at the desk this morning were under far less pressure compared to last night and thus, I was able to explain the previous night’s events and was profusely apologised to. The staff member decided to credit me the value of the flight. The next time I need to travel with Virgin, I need only quote them a claim number and give them my name and they will reduce the price of the flight by $450.
Not a bad outcome.
Update: I made it to Melbourne. Unfortunately, my connecting flight to Hobart has been delayed from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Delayed I can handle. Delayed > Cancelled. Here’s hoping that Delayed doesn’t get any funny ideas and decide to come out of it’s protective cocoon, transformed into a beautiful Cancelled butterfly.
Update 2: I made it home. The flight finally left Melbourne at 5:40. Strangely, my second post about work travel ends in a familiar way. My final taxi for the trip pulled up outside my home. I paid my final bill and extracted my case from a taxi, one final time – all to the tune of Matchbox 20’s Long Day.