An epic, shaky start. A year ago to the day, 17th January 2008.
So picture the scene…Daisy is heading off on a holiday of a lifetime, all on her ownio, to the far side of the world, first stop Brisbane, Australia. She has left her job of almost eight years, she has put off packing til that very morning and then in a panic tried to fit everything into her newly purchased backpack. Fails and has to be helped by helpful and lovely friend and housemate, D.
The time comes and Daddy Daisy comes to pick me up along with friend D. who wants to wave me off at the airport. Another friend, L. has decided to also meet me at the airport and wave me off. I head to the basement of Dublin Airport to the Aer Lingus check-in area for London Heathrow (LHR). Earlier in the day there had been a story in the news about the BA flight which had skidded off the end of the runway that morning, holding up many of the flights. My flight was delayed by several hours but the kindly lady at the check-in desk noted that I had an onward flight to Singapore (SIN) and a third flight to Brisbane (BNE) and put me onto an earlier flight which originally should have been leaving that morning but which had also been delayed due to the ‘incident’ at LHR.
Thanking her and my lucky stars, I headed off with D. and L. to Starbucks upstairs for a final round of caramel macchiatos before I departed for nine whole weeks. We drank coffee, we chatted, I stayed a little longer than I should have but I was to board at 3.30pm and left Starbucks at 3.25pm. After goodbyes were said and I went through security, I raced to my gate to see that the flight was still being listed on the screen at the designated gate so I sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. I was busy receiving phonecalls from D. and L. on their way home making sure I was okay (bless!) and reading my magazine and some time had passed before I realised that I was the only person sitting at that gate. I got up to check the number on the screen and PANIC it was no longer my flight number!
Cue a frantic race around that circle of gates looking for an Aer Lingus staff member, any staff member…on my second lap I spotted someone just in from boarding a flight in the rain in her high-vis jacket. Panting and embarrassed, I explained that I had missed their numerous pages for me as I was on the land-side of the airport sipping a caramel macchiato, as opposed to air-side and they don’t make the announcements land-side. The flight was gone, without me. And without my luggage which had been offloaded.
I was sent down to the baggage hall to reclaim my bag and in a perfect moment of dejá vú, back to the same check-in area, where once again I had to explain myself, red-faced. So I was put back on my original flight which was now delayed to 5pm and was warned by the ground attendant checking me in ‘not to miss this one!’ Suitably chastised, I headed straight for the gate and refused to move myself until boarding. Which was delayed and delayed until about 7pm.
My planned day of swanning about LHR, shopping and sipping lattés was ruined. It’s not quite the same in Dublin Airport when all you have is a tiny O’Briens counter, a manky café and a Hughes & Hughes shop.
Eventually I was airborne, headed for LHR and somewhat happy that I would have enough time to switch terminals and catch my next flight. When we landed in LHR we could not go straight to the gate as, due to the earlier ‘incident’, there were now queues of flights waiting to dock. As I sat looking out the window at the pouring rain in the dark, stranded on a runway at LHR and watching the minutes tick by, I thought, “What the hell am I doing? What the HELL? How did I get here, what am I doing??” It was a little surreal after all the shenanigans of the day. By the time we actually got to the gate, I had about forty minutes to get from Aer Lingus at Terminal 1 to Singapore Airlines at Terminal 3. Normally they tell you to give yourself 90 minutes. Yikes! I ran, I sprinted, I panted, I dodged people, I leaped over bags – I didn’t think I had it in me! But I made it and I think I was the first person to board the Singapore Airlines flight after the First and Business Class passengers.
It was my first step towards a journey into completely new territory…an admittedly shaky start but it could only get better. Right?