Today we’re helped with some ‘paperwork’ and hindered with some security – and it’s all against the clock!
Here’s the tale. We’re booked on the 0952 out of York arriving at Manchester airport at 1135. The flight’s at 1410 so it’ll be alright provided there are no hiccups. Terminal 2 is only 15 minutes from the train station and there are walkways that rocket you along with a feeling that’s surreal. Your brain is telling you that your feet are ambling along at a respectable rate but your eyes are challenging the perception with the reality of a healthy run but you know you’re only walking; I love it.
We arrive at the terminal in under 10 minutes so there’s a bonus. There’s a queue that zigzags its way to the desks and, whilst we don’t know it yet, we’re going to need it. We reach the check-in desk with exactly two hours before take-off, ample time you may observe!
The girl on the desk is concerned about the printed paperwork as she informs us that we need to have copies of our itinerary. I do, and hand the paperwork to her, it’s a bit faint but just about discernible so she hands it back with a nod.
There’s still some concern though as neither of us has boarding documents for the flight OUT of Bangladesh although the Pilgrim has a return ticket from Kuala Lumpur (KL). I haven’t got a return ticket yet as I don’t know where it’ll be from.
I have an electronic itinerary for both of us from Dhaka to KL which I show and a lovely lady from the Qatar Customer Services desk is called to help print out the appropriate evidence. Kate is the lady’s name and she tries to forward a link from my ‘phone to their servers and whilst it appears in the ‘sent’ folder of my ‘phone there’s no sign of it on their screens.
The check-in takes a little longer than planned as they try to sort out the paperwork and then we’re moved to the customer service desk with 90 minutes until take-off. Kate tries to send the itinerary and links again and it disappears into my sent folder followed by an expectant hush on the other side of the counter where three sets of eyes look expectantly at the screen.
80 minutes to take-off now but eminently doable.
In the meantime, I’m downloading the AirAsia app from the iTunes Store with the hope that I may be able to show appropriate evidence from there. The download is successful but there is no more information than that already seen. It shows the booking number, details of the flight that we’re booked on, the seat number that we’ll be sitting in, the transaction id for the whole thing and the money that was paid; however, all of this, we’re told, is not sufficient.
It’s 75 minutes until take-off and we haven’t reached security yet.
I hand over my phone and the customer services lady tries to log in on my behalf, I’ll not go into detail but eventually, we get into ‘Manage my Booking’ and just as we make some progress as if by magic, the forwarded links appear on their screen.
It’s 70 minutes until take-off.
She prints off the documents and hands them to us, they have all of the information that we’d looked at before and no more but now that it’s printed it looks authentic and we’re given clearance to go to the ‘Dodgy-Baggage-Drop’ gate where people with golf clubs, buggies or, in our case, rucksacks have to take them so they don’t block up the chutes and conveyor belts with straps and other odd shapes. Another wait because one of the locals had dropped his bags on the conveyor and pissed off for a chat with his family. He returns and the baggage disappears but we’re not allowed to proceed because the lady has the Pilgrim’s passport and needs to finish her conversation with a colleague, apparently, picking up said passport and handing it across the desk is impossible whilst talking.
It’s just over an hour until take-off.
The lovely people at customer services have given us a ‘fast-pass’ to get to the security machines if there are queues but they’re not necessary and within a couple of minutes we’re de-booted, de-belted, de-jacketed and de-bagged of all electronic stuff with all of the liquids sitting ready to be observed and sniffed in clear plastic bags. We wait until the trays disappear into the x-ray machines and walk unhindered through the scanners.
It’s just under an hour until take-off.
At the other side, we wait expectantly as the trays make their appearance from the machine then pause at a divide where the good-boy-conveyor and naughty-boy-conveyor take their separate ways. If the tray is diverted to the conveyer furthest away from the eager recipients then it’s deemed to be suspicious and will be fully investigated by a lady or gentleman whose job it is to keep us safe, If it carries on along the conveyor nearest us then it is deemed safe and can be retrieved by the lucky owner who is now breathing again.
Mine is gently emerging from the machine and stops at the junction where the previous three had levitated then, with a sinister, computer controlled jerk, they lurched forward to the ‘goody’ conveyor nearest me.
Mine’s still busy thinking, it’s a bit like the artificial wait that the guest speaker introduces at an award ceremony where we wait with bated breath for the announcement that will make or break a career with the flourish of an envelope. It’s still waiting but at least it hasn’t gone down the ‘naughty’ route, it jerks towards the ‘good’, then it stops again, twitches a bit and disappears down the ‘naughty’…
‘’Damn, blast and ‘Well I am annoyed’”, I splutter, (actually, there may have been references to poo, dangly bits and perhaps a fluffing word as an element of frustration is vented)
– then I apologise to the lady next to me. She duly smiles at potty-mouthed loser who’s just been rumbled; however, this is followed by an identical outburst from her as she watches her tray jerk down the naughty track too.
She has a baby and a toddler in tow so she gets her tray seen first.
We’re down to 55 minutes!
It turns out to be baby milk mixed and ready for the lucky little recipient who is currently fast asleep and she leaves with a smile and good luck to me.
It’s 53 minutes and counting.
I’m reluctant to share this with the agent in case he thinks it’s a ruse to get him to let me through so I keep my peace and hope. Rubber gloves have never been my fetish and maybe the slap of their application is only imagined but I start to wonder what the hell it is that I put in there. When he’d asked if anyone had been near the bag and had I packed it myself I really am now wondering.
He takes everything out of the bag whilst explaining that he thinks the suspicious image is a charging cable for my iPhone sitting behind a spectacles case. With that, everything is taken out on the tray and as there’s no sign of gelignite or plastic explosive I do expect it back and be able to go. No, he picks the whole thing up and walks back to the input end of the machine and puts it in the queue to be rescanned.
It’s 50 minutes now and I have no idea if the gates are open but this is an international long-haul flight so they should be.
The tray complete with electronic debris is drifting through the machine at an alarmingly lethargic rate then suddenly, here it is, hesitating like before at the junction.
We’ve agreed that the Pilgrim should go on ahead to do the critical stuff like acquiring a couple of bottles of gin for emergency consumption should we find ourselves in dry enclaves of the country, if we get there.
48 minutes and still dropping.
It’s taking a long time to make up its mind then as suddenly as it had stopped, it lurches forward again, along the good route and towards me. It’s like being greeted by a long lost friend.
I readjust all of the stuff that had been removed and put on my belt. Now that my jeans will stay up I re-pack my bag and try to locate the Pilgrim at the exit to duty-free.
It’s 29 minutes and the monitors are yelling that the QR28 Doha Flight is Boarding at gate 206.
We’ve no idea how far that is but there’s been no panic so far so we’ll not start now and whilst we don’t hang about, there’s no stampede and we arrive at the gate as the call goes out for ‘all other passengers, please approach the gate’
As I said at the beginning, this is a big bird and it’s full with two 3’s and a 4 in the middle so 10 seats across at its widest.
We’re on our way though.
Good job we’re still in Manchester, it could have been tense!
“Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye”, first stop Doha, I’ll let you know.
Enjoy the snaps…G..x
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