Air travel is the new steerage. It is one of the most humiliating experiences out there, fifty shades short of an S&M (as opposed to M&S) encounter.
Yesterday, I arrived at Brussels Airport a good three hours before the 4.20pm flight was due to leave for Dublin. All was looking good as the bottle-green Airbus, "Ciara" I think it was called, pulled up to the apron. Cue hours of agony, frustration and indecision.
Owing to "technical reasons", the flight was cancelled and we were told - after several hours - that we would have to scramble for tickets to unlock a one-night stay in the Holiday Inn, which was to tide us over until the replacement flight at 10.30am the following day. I wouldn't be a prolific flyer, but I've endured it often enough to realise that this was very unusual.
Anyway. We then had a planeload of people vying, cursing and fighting their way onto a shuttle which only held a busload of people - great planning here, you see. It was a bit like the Titanic in reverse, with the most unseemly, every-person-for-themselves scramble to get onto the coach, which arrived after a half-hour wait. The unfortunate/civilised people who were left foundering at the stop - and to my shame I was not one - would have to wait for the next shuttle bus. And this after several hours of hanging around Brussels Airport (Bottle of water €4. Can of Stella €5.10).
Then, at last, it was back to Ireland. That was just the warm-up.
Arrival at Dublin Airport prompted a false sense of relief when the baggage came out within about ten minutes. A record! Then it was out to the taxi-rank, and the most stupid, most ignorant taxi driver in the world.
Your friendly Gombeen Man's "How's it goin'?" greeting was met with complete silence, as his travelling companion's decision to take her hand luggage into the cab rather than place it in the boot - it contained the fare - was met with an admonishment not to place it on the seats.
"Not the greatest conversationalist then" were my thoughts as we headed around the M50, "but grand, sometimes not having to partake in small talk is no bad thing if you're not in the humour". And being knackered, I wasn't.
It was a bit odd, however, that the driver was constantly twitching around in his seat and managed to miss the N3 turn-off for Castleknock despite being told twice it was coming up. I mean, aren't some of our rather-too-proudly-indigenous taxi drivers very fond of trumpeting their "knowledge" of Dublin to all and sundry?
Don't get me wrong, anyone can make a mistake, but this little bollocks seemed to think he was in the right - even when he had to be directed back from the N4, past Palmerstown and up by Chapilizod in order to rectify his own cock-up.
"Why didn't you tell me to go by Palmerstown earlier????" he had the cheek to ask.
"Hold on, we shouldn't even f***king be here!", was the reply. Not that it made any impression, as I'm sure yer man wasn't the full florin.
You see, it does not take long to get back into things once you set foot back in the place.
Welcome back to Ireland. Welcome back to Dublin.
Maybe Aer Lingus was trying to tell us something?
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