“There seems to be a problem with your booking.” Not exactly the words that you expect, or want, to hear at check in when you’re looking to board a plane to move country. Not go on holiday. Move country. As in live there. For a while. A good while. And yet that is what I heard about an hour and a half ago. The issue, it transpired, was that through some relatively simple yet potentially catastrophically disruptive error on the part of the airline reservations team, I had apparently had my flight changed from the day and time that I had duly turned up to Heathrow for, bags and nervous excitement in tow, to the exact same time but the next day. A full 24 hours later. Long, boring story short, I grimaced, the reservations clerk apologised, he called someone in Dubai, he apologised again, I was put on the standby list, I waited.
The options, it was explained to me, were to initially wait and essentially play the ‘standby lottery’, in which I rather perversely was encouraged to hope that some other traveller, with a seat booked on the flight, was unable, for whatever reason, to get to the airport on time, thus enabling me to step in and fill it for them. Failing that – and the odds of success were slim – I would always be able to board at my allotted time tomorrow evening. This option kind of sucked for a number of reasons (you may be able to guess from the tone of this narrative that I was a ‘lottery’ winner on this occasion).
First of all, I could either hang around London for 24 hours, all at my own expense (sucky!) or return home with the rents and repeat the entire process the next day (less sucky but still sucky nonetheless). Either way it would require me to fire off a series of emails, the main one being to Monique, my new employer, to explain that fate had dropped trou and decided to take a big old movement right on my head. As I was expected to attend a medical, pick up my visa and complete various bits of essential paperwork on the Sunday, a delay was altogether a bit shit. Still, what was I to do if the flight was fully booked? No matter how much I whinged, that negative energy wasn’t going to magically lead to the creation of an additional seat on the plane. As such, there was little choice but to shrug, file it away as a mildly amusing blog entry and see what was to happen.
I guess I gave it away earlier but the upside was that I did indeed get a seat (although not the First or Business Class one that I was most definately praying for), and even better still was allowed to add to my already overweight luggage, meaning that I was now heading out to start my new life with a little more than a bottle of Clinique Happy, a skydive helmet, pair of boardies and bag of assorted USB cables. Good stuff. Maybe Murphy has a sense of humour and decided to overlook his Law on this one occasion. Good lad.
The potential last minute spanner in the proverbial works would have come on the back of an initial delay, whereby a combination of the typical January ‘lets mess up the country’ snow that decided to turn up like an unwelcome smell and result in my initial flight being cancelled anyway, plus an assortment of other factors, led to me pushing my start date in Dubai back until now. The fact that this move has been about six months in the making seemed not to matter to old Murphy in January, but the delay was not unwelcome then. Today it would have been. Most unwelcome indeed.
If you are moving country, or otherwise reckon you’ll need to take more stuff with you than is strictly speaking permitted by your airline baggage allowance, try and arrange to turn up at the airport with someone else and a bag of ‘extra stuff’ that you can always just shove in your main backpack/ suitcase should the nice folks on the desk decide to overlook the fact you’re over. Chances are that the ‘just in case’ bag will go back home with your friend/ family member but hey, it’s worth a go, right?! Oh, its probably worth pointing out, however, that if it weren’t for the fact that I was taking a 25kg bike and accompanying box (& associated stuff) I would have had a tad more than the 5kg I ended up officially having left for the rest of my worldly possessions 🙂
(Needless to say, if anyone from the airline on which I traveled is reading this then of course the above is completely ficticious and I was well within my allowance. Honest)