London, Day 2 – The misadventure

When I finished the last post with a glib suggestion of travel misadventures, I was anticipating turning down a wrong street in London, or hilariously catching the tube the wrong direction up a line. Not what actually happened, which had to do with the flight from NY to London itself. My tardy posting about it (being it's currently London day 7) could be taken as time required to process the experience. Or just laziness, choosing to ingest Sainsbury's 75p croissants as if the rapture is tomorrow, instead of blogging.

So, here's a short summation of the journey from New York to London Stanstead, travelling with a low-cost carrier I'll call Scandi McBudget Air.

I reach Newark airport smoothly (subway, two trains). Drop bag. Query my seat allocation, which appears to be back in an exit row***. Counter staff says "I'm not going to change it". I shrug. Reach gate. Screen says "on time". Staff (who turn out to be cabin crew and flight crew) are standing around drinking coffees. Waiting. Waiting. Irate French woman yells at gate staff (we will soon discover what this is about). Flight finally boards over an hour late, all the while the screen merrily says "on time". Ha-dee-ha.  ***there's a long story I won't go into with the booking process where I had a seat in this row to start with, and then it was changed twice to avoid being charged extra for the seat.

Once on board, becomes evident some colossal balls up has happened with seat allocations. People who paid for exit rows aren't the in exit row. Staff come to ask us if we paid for it. I say my seat was changed three times and the woman at the counter then wouldn't change it again. This is what French woman was yelling about. Finally, we leave, very late. Drinks trolley comes out, and water must be paid for. But the staff have been given no card readers (ticket says credit cards preferred) so they are collecting whatever cash people have, Aeroflot style.

I gave my last cash to a distressed woman on the train to Newark, so I'm facing all night in the desiccating cabin air with no water because of Scandi McBudget's manifest organisational fuckery. Steward, to his credit, gives me a bottle of water. Hours pass. The toilets are so stinky I'm convinced they've adapted the long drop to high altitude flight. That's when I notice the duct tape holding an overhead bin closed. Possibly containing snakes?

Duct-tape-gate, the evidence

Duct-tape-gate, the evidence

Yes, duct tape. Just in case you don't believe it, here is the photo. And while duct tape is a wonder material, it's not really what you want to see fixing your aircraft. Any part of the aircraft. Haven't they ever seen Air Crash Investigators? One tiny thing leads to another. To ANOTHER. And suddenly that duct tape on the overhead bin means some solvent dissolves some wire that controls some thing that makes everything go boom.

The dramatic close-up.

The dramatic close-up.

Anyway. To spoiler the end of the story, we managed to land safely, which I think was the only thing that went well. Chatting to other passengers in the terminal, I learned a part of their window assembly was hanging off, so they could see into some kind of plane innards. Now I know why the ticket was so damn cheap.

From there, I caught trains and tubes effortlessly to my destination, and will not even deign to complain about the lack of promised wi-fi on the Stanstead plane because I clearly used all my points up with the universe on the flight.

Since then, there's been a conference and various research around London, but I'm not sure any of it is very interesting blog material. On the weekend we head north to Lincoln for more research. Stay tuned. Maybe.