Frequent traveller: End of the affair

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  • Anonymous


    My love affair with London City airport has been a bright spot in my travelling life, but we’re beginning to have arguments, which is always the test of a relationship. It began like this…

    First argument

    My flight to Frankfurt was delayed for 20 minutes for boarding. We then sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes until the captain said there was a technical problem which he wanted the engineers to look at, which would take a further 15 minutes. Well, I’m always happy for them to fix a problem on the ground rather than in the air.

    We then spent another 45 minutes parked at the far end of the field past Gate 10, before we were told it would take another 60 minutes and they were deboarding us back into the terminal.
    We then waited an additional 45 minutes for the bus, which freaked people out as we could see it not 15 yards from the aircraft, yet stubbornly refusing to pick us up. It finally bussed us all the way back to Gate 10. By this time I had blown my meeting ?in Germany so headed back to the office.

    Second argument

    A few days later I decided to drive myself to City airport, which I had not done in years, despite my assistant asking me more than once if I wanted a car pick-up instead. She must have known what was to come. I parked up in the regular-stay car park, which is marginally less expensive than ripping up £10 notes for fun, but is always available and no more than a five-minute walk to the terminal.

    I whizzed through check-in and danced through security – the multiple X-ray machines were all working efficiently. My flight left on time, I was at the front of the cab line at the other end, straight to my client’s office and then back to the airport. That’s when it all went wrong.

    The flight ahead of mine to City was delayed and then cancelled. I checked with ground staff and was told that fog in London meant City airport was closed and my flight was just about to be cancelled too.

    They were as good as gold, and before the crowd could ask the question they had rebooked everyone onto the next Heathrow flight, which was also delayed but could accommodate the cancelled flight.
    It was good to finally be back in London, but I was miles from my car, so had the pleasure of trekking all the way across ?town just to pick it up. Note to self – listen to my assistant and do what she tells me.

    Third argument

    Wind was wafting and again City was cancelling slots. In-bound flights were landing in Southend and only the occasional European flight was getting in. ?I was lucky enough to have my flight pushed back 60 minutes because of wind strength equal to an asthmatic blowing through a straw, or on the Beaufort scale one notch up from a hairdryer.

    The return leg consolidated several earlier cancelled flights and had me sit in a middle seat next to a clearly miffed American lady. She complained to the cabin crew about how unreasonable it was to have to sit next to somebody in Club Europe. I sympathised and told her in all sincerity that I really did not want to sit next to her either. I arrived late into Heathrow – City was closed again.

    Fourth argument

    I have found myself increasingly attracted to the Eurostar for Brussels and Paris trips. I feel guilty about doing it behind City’s back and, while I am not proud of myself, nature has a way of putting these things together for a purpose. I was disappointed when they switched to St Pancras from Waterloo, as I could previously take a train into Waterloo directly from home, but now I have to push, shove and fight my way there on the Northern line.

    Just as I was about to consign Eurostar to the same travel graveyard as Dan Air, my omniscient assistant suggested Ebbsfleet as an alternative. This is the brand new station near Bluewater shopping centre where drivers can drop off at the station door, the car parks are empty, and from check-in to boarding takes no more than five minutes. While not all trains stop there, the service is good enough, and means I avoid the pain of getting home without going into London… I still love City, but the honeymoon period is over.

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