Actually, not everything went wrong. Here is the first positive note; we did not crash! We are still alive and kicking and able to write you about our monstrosity of a flight so that you, if ever needed, are always prepared for one. The story we are about to tell is based on the actual events that happened between the 13th and 15th of September, 2017. It was not dramatized in any way. Adjust your seat and brace yourself as we will guide you through our hellish journey.
The day of departure we knew it would become a tough day at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. A perfect, clear blue sky with a beautiful sun, but also with insanely hard winds that were ravaging through the land. A lot of flights were cancelled or delayed, and take-off for our flight went from 14.55 to 16.15. In the end it left at 18.20. So.. it only got delayed twice.. That is not too bad now is it? And we even managed to get our transit in London at a very chill pace (side note, this was only because this flight was also 1,5 hours delayed). What we are trying to say here, and I think the best way to do this is to quote Monty Python: “Aaalways look on the briiiight side of life”. Even during frustrating and stressful times at an airport!
Next thing you can always do to stay positive is to put annoying bits into perspective. In other words, just search for the people that have it worse than you! And trust us, there are ALWAYS people that have it worse than you. I think we have a proper example here:
When we arrived at check-in, we were told we had to rebook our flights because we wouldn’t be able to catch our transit. So.. we had to go to the service desk… And the service desk sent us back to the check-in… And vice versa. Long story short, we’ve done this a total of 9 times during which the time spend in queues adds up to a total of over 2,5 hours! The thing is, while we stood in line 9 times, people from Flybe didn’t even come close to finishing one queue. In fact, they had been in that specific queue for over 4 hours. So yeah, they definitely had it worse than us.
Sometimes though, you are JUST NOT IN THE MOOD to actively search for ways to stay positive. In such an occasion we recommend food; it is easy peasy to confront the difficulties in life with a mouthful of sugar! This flight we had such an occasion. We arrived in Joburg around 9 am and went straight to the baggage carrousel. I don’t know if this is something personal or if everyone has it, but you know that anxious feeling you get that your backpack is the one that won’t arrive while you’re at the carrousel waiting and waiting…?? Until finally, against all expectations, there it is! Kellie’s backpack arrived first on the carrousel! But that didn’t relieve us from that feeling that the other backpack would not arrive. Logically, if Kellie’s backpack was the first, then Lars’s should be next or at least soon after right? We were on the same transit! Unfortunately, the carrousel became emptier… and emptier and then it stopped spewing out suitcases… And his backpack did not arrive. Now if this happens to you, just find the nearest service desk and patiently get in line (you can do it! We did!). We went to the British Airways service desk where a letter was already waiting for us. The letter said some ‘mistakes were made’. Djeez, wonder where. Wait! We haven’t told you about a tiny detail during check-in. After we received our boarding passes and the bags were labeled, there was some push message on the ladies screen about Lars Vermeer his bag. “It is probably just an error in the system”, was her explanation and that of her colleagues. And with our positive attitude we will assume that it was just a coincidence that Lars his bag did not arrive. But maybe we can still advise the lady to “trust the system” in the future.
Back to Joburg; the BA service manager explained, with a beautiful South African English accent nonetheless, that the backpack would arrive in Joburg the next day. However, we would be in Gaborone in Botswana by then. Fortunately he arranged that our luggage would be sent to Gaborone airport and everything would be okay! But yeah, after sorting out all this we surrendered to our cravings and bought a whole carrot cake and a big KitKat bar at Joburg airport, and continued with a questionably vegetarian burger (loaded with sauce) at the lodge in Gaborone to finish it all off with at least half a litre of ice cream topped with cookie crumbs, toffee sauce and chocolate sauce at the airport of Gaborone the next day. Our wounds were healed.
When you can’t get your hands on food and you’re done searching for positivity and putting things in perspective, or when you’ve done all that and nothing helps, well then things might turn a little bit ugly. This is exactly what happened to Kellie. Because of all the shit that happened at Schiphol, being rebooked several times etcetera, less and less seats had become available. So our pre check-in seats next to a window, far away from the toilet and kitchen, were gone. In fact, there was only one place left where we could actually sit next to each other; middle row with four seats and then the middle two seats, plus directly placed in front of the kitchen. Kellie always gets really nauseous from the kitchen smells in an airplane. And if that wasn’t bad enough, her neighbour was huge (to put it nicely). You know those discussions in airplanes about which armrest you can use and which is your neighbours’. Well, that wasn’t even an option here, as his arm was so fat it just hung over the armrest, invading her seat. To make it even worse he snored like only fat guys can. So Kellie decided to punch the guy in the kidney at least 30 times during the flight whenever he started snoring. No worries, no fights were set off! He just kept on sleeping.. and snoring unfortunately.
The last guideline on how to turn a flight gone wrong into something positive is definitely the most important one. Although not everyone might be as fortunate, try to surround yourself with family and friends (e.g. through whatsapp) that will support you during your travels and are eager to listen to your joyful and less joyful experiences. It helped us a lot.
To end up; we are currently in Gaborone, eating healthy again, and reunited with our backpack (even though that flight was delayed as well, all our clothes were in there!). With fresh underpants covering our bottoms we will remain positive to tackle the challenge of buying a car in Gaborone that can take us through Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. Besides, what could go wrong after this!? Stay tuned for more!
Hugs and kisses,
Kellie & Lars.