Wednesday, June 22, 2016

a failed Remain mission - and a scary tale of air travel

I'm still in New Mexico.  This was not the plan.  By now, I should be just boarding at DFW, ready to catch a plane to England, ready to go to the polling station.  But.  If Remain loses by one vote, here's the story.  The Warrior Woman sculpture at Santa Fe airport - inappropriate, indeed.

I booked to fly to DFW - for the flight to LHR - from Santa Fe Airport, because, frankly, it was about $350 cheaper than through Albuquerque - and at over $2,000 for a flight back to the UK this summer, that mattered.  And - Santa Fe is this sweet little one-gate airport.  And it's local, obviously.  And I'd allowed for lots of in-between time at DFW in case of delays (or for adult refreshments in the airline lounge ...).  So ... the incoming plane was an hour late (functioning a/c in a sweet little one gate airport would be nice, but I'm fussy, like the rest of the increasingly antsy passengers).  We board. We take off.  We learn from the flight attendant that this was a substitute plane for one that had "had a problem with a handle."  It soon becomes clear - as we circle and circle in a stormy sky somewhere between Santa Fe and Albuquerque - that this plane has a rather more serious problem - one of its wing flaps is stuck.  Pilot tells us he might go back to Santa Fe; we might go to Albuquerque.  I ask if we can put this to the vote (bear in mind this is a small, 30 passengers on board plane), which gets a nervous laugh.  Pilot, though, doesn't think he can get us to Albuquerque - so we turn round and fly, very low, up the Rio Grande valley back to Santa Fe (at which point we start to notice the plane that's accompanying us, like a guide dog - and all the fire trucks racing towards the airport to welcome our emergency landing).  We land safely (or, I guess, I wouldn't be writing this).

And now, sweet little one-gate airport?  The two ticket desk operators have gone home - but they're scrambled back to deal with us.  No chance of flying out tonight - even if there was some miraculous working plane - TSA have gone home, too.  Then we're told we can't re-book yet, because AA has us all as having departed - flown - used our tickets.  That takes a while to sort out.  

And the upshot is?  I'm flying tomorrow - on a flight (from Albuquerque, in the first instance) that gets into LHR around 6.30 a.m. on Friday.  Not only do I not get to vote - but all the drama will be more or less over, I guess, by the time I land.  I feel devastated that all my Carefully Planned Plans have gone haywire.

And I will never, if humanly possible, use Santa Fe airport again.  It's not their fault, of course, that the wing flap refused to flap - but there is absolutely no back up system if things go wrong.  So, basically, if Remain needs that one vote - blame -  well, blame someone or something, in this tale.

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