Mink Machine

Viva la Air France

This would be a night to remember.

We arrived at Guarulhos, the international airport of Sao Paulo, in the afternoon. To our surprise the aircraft had already left.

The Air France office was already closed at 5 pm so we had a look at the Air France web site, that referred us to a 24/7 telephone number. That led us in turn to an answering machine, saying that the service was closed and any questions were referred to the web site. This means that at the moment no one on the entire planet was available for global customer support. We interrogated an information office for another company which kindly informed us that Air France had simply missed the fact that Brazil didn’t adjust daylight savings time today due to the election, so the airline’s clocks were wrong.

Varig managed to squeeze us in on a flight to Europe five hours later, so with a purchase of the latest issue of Empire magazine we were finally going in the right direction.

Next problem arrived soon after the touchdown at Charles de Gaulle in Paris. We saw Nasseri‘s red bench on the ground level of Terminal 1 and took a bus to Terminal 2F. We went to the information desk, where a very sleepy girl directed us to the ticket office. The ladies at the ticket office told us to go to the transfer desk. With sore feet we finally arrived at the transfer desk. The woman behind the counter stated, in a very unfriendly manner, that our tickets were wrong.

“But it was Air France who made the mistake.”
“Ce n’est pas possible, monsieur”.

She even refused to recognize the stamp “Air France” all over our tickets. Sigh.

Pär tried to negotiate with the hostile employee, while I focused my mind on the old Jedi trick, “these are not the droids you are looking for”. Finally we got new boarding cards for the transfer flight, even though they were to Amsterdam instead of our destination Gothenburg. Well, anything to get out of this airport… But the luck would not last for long. After a couple of boring hours at CDG and another flight we arrived at the Schiphol airport at the outskirts of Amsterdam. Raced along the endless corridors and boarded yet another plane, this time with the correct destination.

In a moment of hubris, I paraphrased Darth Vader, “there is no one to stop us this time”.

How utterly naive of me.

“This is your captain speaking. We have a slight problem with a light on the aircraft. This will take approximately fifteen minutes.”

We waited thirty minutes.

“This is your captain speaking. The problem appears to be located inside the cockpit. It may take awhile.”

We waited another thirty minutes.

“This is your captain speaking. Fixing the lamp is quite a problem, so we have decided to switch aircraft.”

Thus initiating the exodus of hundred people across the vast Schiphol airport to another gate. After an entertaining hour at glorious gate 89 a new plane arrived.

At midnight local time, after 26 hours of travel, my feet touched the ground of my native soil. However, the airline had prepared a final gift for me by not sending my luggage. So I walked out of the airport into the cold night, wearing only a t-shirt in seven degrees Celsius, without even my apartment keys.

Viva la Air France.

Charles de Gaulle Terminal one Welcome to Charles de Gaulle Terminal one. You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.

8 comments

  • avatar
    magiqa
    12 Oct, 2005

    Mais ce nest pas possible que Air France have been behaving like this. I have the opposite experience of this excellent air line. Once a stupid lady at a travel agency (who obviously never had visited Paris) booked in me and my poor son from Goteborg to Charles de Gaulle airport, which is situated far north of Paris and two hours later we were supposed to have boarded the flight from Orly (south of Paris, near Versailles) to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, isle francais avec drapeau de EU, en Caraibe (avec trema, that means two pooints, over the i).
    This was supposed to be possible to do on saturday vormiddag!!! Impossible. Absolumment impossible. We had to pick out our bagage at CdG and ran to the bus. Full. Complet. Completement occupee!! Wait for next bus,, and le montre is moving… time goes by…. bus comes, we are on our way to Orly and the Air France plane to Guadeloupe!!! Ten minutes before departure we arrived.. Inchecking locked. Impossible a bord l’avion. Absolumment impossible! Mais non, I said, forced myself and my son under the barricade, with the suitcases first.. After us, even later, came two teachers (in French!!!) from our neighbourhood, who intended to board the same plane. We did it! On board the Boeing 747 not 400 a bit smaller, but with an upper apartment, our seats were gone!! I refused to sit far from my son (he would not have missed me!!) and said, to the l’hotesse de l’air:; cest absolumment necessaire pour moi detre pres de mon fis, parce que je souffre d’une phobie severe.
    – Avez vous peur a voler? Are you afraid of flying? the air hostess asked me.
    – Non, mais je souffre d’une phobie sociale, j’ai peur of people I dont know, and must be close to my son all the time, I said. – A l’escalier, upstairs, the hostess told me. There we got very big and comfortable chairs with pillows for our feet and we got drinks before the engines started. Everything was fine, except my son, who refused to talk to me for four hours (the flight was 8,5 hours long.) We got plates of porcelaine, linen napkins, napkin rings, delicious food, more drinks, more wine, everything was excellent.
    After four hours my son opened his mouth:
    -nerver again, mother, never I will travel with you. You have made a fool of yourself, I am so embarrased. Did you have to tell them your are insane?
    We got to Guadeloupe, we got onboard the French cruise ship, with lots of french families (and their children do not scream all the time, like Swedish children do) and we had a nice week, sharing table with the other Swedish couple, who almost missed the plane!
    Viva Air France!

  • avatar
    16 Oct, 2005

    “Plead insanity”. Why didn’t I think of that? Great idea! I will try it next time.

  • avatar
    magiqa
    06 Mar, 2006

    I am back from Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Zanzibar, to my husbands surprise! The lions did not want me, although I was so close to some of them, that I could have grabbed their tails….
    But what did people talk about: stomach problems all the time. I am so tired of that subject, especially at the dinner table. Food was good and if you bring Pepto-Bismol with you, you do not have to worry, in case of upset stomach. The vultures did not complain, they seemed so content after having eaten what the lions had left….
    Reine, time to put new pics on TE!!!
    Regards M de Vil

  • avatar
    06 Mar, 2006

    Welcome home! I’ve always dreamed of going to Ngorongoro and stand on the brink of the crater.
    I hope you brought a lion for Cassie to play with. :)

  • avatar
    magiqa de vil
    20 Jun, 2006

    Apropos Serengeti and the Ngorongoro (means big hole – it sure is!) Crater: Cassie has already got a tiger, made of plush, which is almost perdu! Nose gone, neck badly hurt, so it needs mending before futher attacks by Cassie!
    Now I have a nice memory of how to learn Swedish tourists to behave: I went to China with the very good Lotus travel. Our guide was simply wonderful, he had been working at the Chinese embassy in Stockholm for many years. And he had probably good experience of the Swedish favorite samtalsämne – topic to talk about, especially at the dinner table… (gulp) so the first thing he did was to learn how to behave: He said: In China only little children go to the toilet to pee. Only children describe what they do at the toilet. Grown ups say that they need to wash their hands! So from now on we talk only about washing hands!!!
    It worked!! Of course the group was not as stupid as groups very often are; most of them were teachers. And in China it sure is difficult to feel bad in your stomach. Food is superb and very healthy. If you have not been to China, go there. I have seen a polar bear in sand storm (Gobi desert is close to Beijing!) The polar bear was yellow of sand and not very amused….

  • avatar
    28 Jun, 2006

    What is it with dogs and plush animals? A friend brought a puppy last friday, which immediately found my beloved plush squirrel and ran away with it between the teeth.
    By the way, what was that polar bear doing all the way out there in the desert? Poor little thing…

  • avatar
    magiqa
    08 Jul, 2007

    Reine querido.
    did I forget to tell you the polar bear was at Beijing zoo and the Gobi desert came there!! During weeks the sand fell over Beijing and our flight back home was very delayed as Air China had to take an umleitung to avoid the sandstorm.
    And when we arrived to that damned Arlanda, 50 people or so, to board the plane to Gothenburg and Oslo, the SAS connection was closed, the plane standing there, without moving, for more than half an hour. But nobody at the gate!!! And all doors closed and impossible to board the plane!
    Read Jan Mårtensons latest crime story, Mord at the museum. He writes: the only thing SAS has not invented is a coin machine outside the toilet doors!!! HAHA
    I add: and a 500 USD fee to get out from the toilet, when you are inside!!
    (I forgot to tell you we had to pay for new tickets, but the travel agency payed us back, otherwise….. !)
    Soon I will go to Langtbartistan!
    Da Svedanja!
    magiqa de Vil

  • avatar
    10 Jul, 2007

    Oh yes, SAS is definitely up there fighting for a spot on the list of irritating airlines. I rarely book them these days, since their website is bad beyond comparison.
    For a fun read about the quality standards of various airlines, I recommend “Air Babylon” written by Imogen Edwards-Jones.

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Reine is a web developer who enjoys caffeine-fueled urban traveling. More...

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