The Perils of Pauline
This was previously on Ann's Page
Pauline's family and my family have been friends for 3 generations. She lives in New Zealand now, so when she came over to visit her Mum here in the North East a few weeks ago it was great to see her. This is the story of her journey over.
The journey from New Zealand to Newcastle is tedious at the best of times, so, when she made the reservations, Pauline made sure that they were as streamlined and as hassle free as possible. That's what she thought at the time, at any rate!

The journey began at 18.50 one evening at Invercargill, Pauline's local airport, when she attempted to catch a prebooked domestic flight to Christchurch, only to be told that it had been cancelled. She was also too late for the last flight of the day from Dunedin, the nearest alternative airport.. Was an airconditioned, all mod cons coach laid on to take the passengers to Christchurch, some 400 miles away? Not on your life! Bemused would-be passengers saw an Airport Shuttle Bus pull up. A few bone shaking hours later, the bus stopped briefly at Dunedin. Passengers, who at that stage still looked relatively fresh, attempted to use the lavatories in the MacDonald's there only to be given short shrift by the staff who clearly didn't like the look of them. (Watching them try to run cross legged to the KFC over the way must have been an interesting sight.) Nine and a quarter hours after the journey began, Pauline arrived, somewhat dishevelled, at Christchurch Airport. Had she and her fellow passengers been mistaken for a bunch of vandals at Christchurch, Pauline said she could well have understood it.

In the meantime, her connection to Singapore had left, on time, nearly 4 hours previously. (Why are planes never delayed when it would actually be useful to at least some of the passengers?)

After a night in an hotel, Pauline eventually caught a plane to Singapore, business class no less, as a small compensation for the problems she had experienced. From Singapore she flew onto Heathrow, the plane arriving 15 minutes ahead of schedule, albeit 24 hours later than originally planned. It looked like everything was finally back on track.

To avoid any further delays, Pauline bought a ticket on the first available plane from Heathrow to Newcastle. She sat waiting for the call to board, happily anticipating that she would be meeting her Mum just over an hour later. It was therefore with some dismay and not a little astonishment, that she listened to an announcement explaining that a cat had boarded her plane and had to be retrieved from the cabin. (As she said afterwards, "What sort of cat in its right mind strolls around a busy international terminal - one with a death wish or at least 8 of its 9 lives left?" ) The cat having been caught and removed, Pauline boarded the plane. Did she then take off? Don't be silly! The next announcement was to inform passengers that, due to a "scare" in another Arrivals Hall, 24 passengers from Peking who were due to catch the flight had been held up. Their luggage was on board, but they weren't. 30 minutes later there was still no sign of the errant passengers. Staff decided to remove all the luggage from the hold, retrieve the Peking passengers bags and then reload the rest. It was just about then that, to her horror, Pauline heard a dog barking somewhere in the plane! To her relief, the dog belonged to a passenger and was in the hold legitimately.

An hour later than planned, the plane took off. Pauline is a seasoned traveller and normally enjoys the experience, but even she was taken aback when she looked at the Italian man sitting next to her and crossing himself constantly until they were airborne. Once the take off was complete, he seemed to settle. That is until they hit turbulence just outside Newcastle. Not only did the crossing begin again, with added gusto, but he began praying out loud too! When they had landed, he turned to Pauline and told her he was tired. Pauline was exhausted watching him!

Finally at her destination, all Pauline had to do was collect her luggage and meet her Mum. It wasn't to be. She met her Mum all right, but her luggage, along with that of a couple of dozen other passengers was still at Heathrow. It hadn't been reloaded when the airline staff retrieved the luggage of the delayed passengers from Peking. A further 24 hours down the line, her luggage finally caught up with her.

Pauline could be forgiven for saying "Never again" after such a traumatic journey, but, fortunately for those of us in the north east who thoroughly enjoyed seeing her, she didn't.

PS Pauline said the return journey was "plane" sailing all the way.

I've flown a couple of times. Absolutely hated it. Not only that, I was charged as excess luggage! The cheek of it.



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