If only the headline above was a legendary yarn telling of a mammoth lads binge in the DXB BA lounge.
Let’s use a timeline…
Wednesday. Went to bed hoping for a good night’s rest ahead of the (big finish!) final day with the client trialing new material in Dubai. Early start planned, settled down for kip.
01.30: Initial stirring from a deep sleep dreaming of cement mixers, which I then realise is actual loud noise. Road planing works begin outside the hotel.
05.30: Might as well get up because they are indeed dedicated workers with quite the talent for industrial white noise.
05.35: Emerge from shower to notice they’ve stopped. Silence. Shrug. Sigh. Possibly weep just a little. Checkout of hotel and store luggage.
07-00-18-00: Client facing work stuff with associated jazz hands, concentration, charm offensiveness. (Exhausting, yet quietly nailing it. Yay.)
18.00-23.00: Dinner with colleague who is staying on, watch ridiculous CGI movie in boutique cinema @ hotel, mooch, kick heels, head to airport for 02.25 flight to London on a pensionable Boeing 747.
23.30: Report writing at airport following bewildering security rituals. Eyelids drooping.
00.45: Go to gate. Really rather ready to go home. Resigned to the inevitability of sleeping in a travelling chair in a tube adjacent to 400 other weary bodies.
This is the bit where it goes awry.
01.30: “Delay” legend appears on display screen. No information available from terminally clueless ground staff (pun intended). A general sense of dread creeps into my dawg tired being. Screen goes blank. Nervous crowd of passengers coalesce to be told precisely nowt.
05.00: We are sat aboard the now fixed 747, delirium mixed in the tiredness.
05.25 Cap’n comes over the PA. We were to be pushed back 3 hours ago. With a casual lack of accountability uses that special BA captain voice to tell us we are not going anywhere. The “wrong part” was ordered. We are the opposite of fixed. We are a cancelled flight. We are to disembark. Buggah.
Interlude: am writing this in a hotel robe in a neatly appointed “cell” hotel room where 14 hours of my life will elapse.
06.00-09.00: Queuing with a plane’s worth of angry, exhausted people. Many are missing connections to the US. Others more fat of wallet re-book the few remaining seats with Emirates. The ground staff have huddle after huddle that provide few answers. We are going nowhere.
Counterpoint: Of course, it could be worse. The plane could have malfunctioned midair. We have WiFi (even if everyone is too banjaxed to use it).
Passengers talk, four fellas drift together. Of my new compadres, one was rebooked on this flight following a cancellation at midday. TWO cancellations in one day. I let out a low whistle.
My new friend also knows – through bitter, fresh experience – of the on-airport “airside” hotel. We make a bleary-eyed break for it. 90 minutes later, we are checked in sans luggage. At thus point I have been awake for approaching 30 hours. My body doesn’t know what meal is next. I kind of pass out only to come to with a sweaty start of someone who doesn’t know when and where they are. My head throbs.
My PC status bar shows that I have very little battery left. It also shows I should have been home with my family three hours ago. But I’m not. I’m in a robe, on a bed, in a air-conditioned box, in a 21st century transit stasis in the middle east.
What was the name of that Tom Hanks movie?
No, no, not Forrest Gump.
Prologue: Went through the whole process again the following night only at 05.00 on the second occasion we were wheels up and heading to London. Needless to say we made it home eventually. My reward? A stinking head cold and a lament for wasted time.
Still think business travel is glamorous?
Thanks to the Dubai Drifters for getting me a lounge pass before we boarded the second time. Cheers!