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Fleur Tonkin

'It Can't Be The End'...

UNITED KINGDOM | Wednesday, 28 March 2012 | Views [879] | Comments [1]

So I went to the movies on Saturday night and saw 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel', and one of the main characters had this saying that was something like “In the end everything works out well, so if nothing is working out then it can't be the end” - thus the title of this blog.

Things did not work out as planned on my trip back to the UK – not that changes are always bad, but this change was not exactly what I'd call good. Still, we all make mistakes (even when we probably should know better)!

I flew from Perth to Dubai, an 11 hour flight (with a few interrupted hours of sleep) and arrived at the Dubai airport ready to transfer onto my connecting flight to Heathrow with just enough time to go through security and get a drink before going to the gate.


I got to my gate with 10 minutes to spare before my ticket said the plane would begin boarding. The sign said GATE OPEN, but everyone was sitting waiting to go through (at least thats' what I assumed in my tired mind).


(My ticket said to board from 7 for a 7:45am flight, but there were no others going through the gate so I sat and waited with everyone else, presumably for an announcement letting us know that we could begin boarding).


No one has moved from their seats outside the gate and a small voice in the slightly energised section of my brain says that the airline should have made an announcement if the flight is running late. However, the rest of my inadequately rejuvenated brain brushes the thought aside and once again I sit and wait.


I turn to look at the electronic sign below the gate and I realise, with horror that it says “GATE CLOSED”. All of a sudden things start to click into place; why there were no announcements about the flight being late, why no one else seemed bothered about the time, and most importantly that you need to go THROUGH the gate in order to get to the boarding area...


I rushed over to the counter and explained (rather pathetically) that I had been waiting at the gate for over an hour, and hadn't heard any calls about boarding so I had not gone through. (Maybe it would have helped if I had told her that my brain function on low amounts of sleep generally ranges between 5 and 10% of the average human brain function)! She said that I should be able to catch the 9am flight to Heathrow, and that I would need to go to the transfer desk to sort it out.


I explained my situation to the lady at the transfer desk (feeling like a complete idiot of course), and she said that I would be able to get on the 9am flight to Heathrow for a transfer fee, but that I would need to pay at a different transfers counter. I agreed (because, well I didn't really have much choice), and was glad that they (apparently) didn't hold me completely accountable for my stupidity i.e. by not making me pay a full fare again due to my inability to comprehend signs. Then again perhaps the lady just felt sorry that I had made such an embarrassing mistake. So, off I went to the main transfer desk to pay my fee.


I arrived at the transfer desk, and explained (once again) my situation and the man made a few calls about the flights and said that I would have to go to the transfer desk when I arrived in Heathrow to find out which flight I could take to Edinburgh. He then asked for my credit card to pay the transfer fee of 150 GBP. So, here's the thing; as I'm sure many of you know, I am very good at shopping. So good in fact, that an actual credit card would almost certainly get me in a lot of trouble...which is why I have a debit card, and only put money in that account when I need to. Since I had not planned on missing my flight and having to pay a fee, I was planning to just get cash out from an ATM upon my arrival in the UK, and only had about 150 AUD in my debit account. Of course the machine I needed to pay on only accepted debit/credit cards and 150GBP works out to approximately $220 AUD, and, unfortunately for me, Emirates do not take IOU's. The man at the desk suggested I use the airports' free wifi to transfer funds into my debit account – perfect. So, I pulled out my netbook, logged on, connected to 'Airport Free Wifi', and received a message saying 'Unable to Connect to Server'. I tried twice more, with the same results. Sigh. Back to the desk, where the man told me that the free wifi at the airport was in fact called 'Maxspot' – now my brain still wasn't functioning at it's best, but one would still assume that 'Airport Free Wifi' would have been the one to go for! So; after finally connecting to the correct server, and trying to log in to online banking, I received another message, from Firefox: “The site you are attempting to access was unable to load. Please only use a connection with a secure server”. So off I went to the nearest ATM (down 2 flights of stairs, in the Arrivals lounge).


I put my savings card into the ATM. It said, “Welcome Fleur Tonkin, Please enter your PIN”. I did as I was told, selected an amount to withdraw, and received a receipt saying “This account does not exist”. That was about the time that I began to panic, and rang Dad (who was in Perth, at work, where, luckily it was lunch time). He transferred the funds for me, and I went back upstairs to the transfer desk to pay.


I got the ticket for my new flight to Heathrow (leaving at 09:30), and boarding at 08:55, at Gate 117, which I discovered was a 15 minute jog through Dubai Airport from the main transfer desk. I got to the gate just as passengers were asked to begin boarding. Not an experience I'd recommend!

From then on, my trip was much easier (thankfully!); I had two seats to myself on the flight to Heathrow, and managed to transfer onto a later flight to Scotland quite easily once I got to London, and then arrived in Edinburgh at about 6:30 pm last night. Not quite the adventure I had planned, and I'm sure I will never live down the fact that I missed a flight when I was sitting outside the gate the whole time - but I got to my desination in the end. Plus my suitcase somehow managed to keep up with all of the flight changes and got to Edinburgh at the same time I did :)

Tags: dubai international airport, edinburgh airport, heathrow airport (london), perth international airport




Fleur! This story is excellent in so many ways! Thanks for recounting it - it had me hooked and feeling sympathy for you.
I can make a few corrections for you though: As an ex-airport ticket desk worker at LHR airport, the staff wouldn't have felt sorry for you, you probably ahd a ticket that allowed changes for a fee.
I am still unclear, however, how you managed to miss your flight when you were sitting at the gate!

And yeah - long haul flights are a BUGGER! Be glad you didn't go over the Date line, that REALLY messes you up, even just from New Zealand to Fiji or Raratonga (Cook Islands).
These days, any long trips I try to do by container ship as a passenger - next planned one is 2013 from Greece (where I'm currently located) to Melbourne.

Follow my adventures: www.leavingcairo.blogspot.com

  Bex Mar 28, 2012 3:47 AM



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