Monday, October 17, 2011

Temporarily leaving Cyprus: airport delays

On Friday, we flew out of Cyprus for a couple of weeks in the UK. We wanted to start by visiting Daniel and Becky - now married for nearly six months - in Carlisle. And we managed to find a reasonable value flight to their nearest airport (Manchester) at a remarkably sociable time, with Cyprus Air.

I did have a slight moment of panic when I saw on the Cyprus Mail website that their flights from Larnaka to Manchester are going to be cancelled... but breathed a sigh of relief when I realised that it's only after the end of October that it will no longer run. Cyprus Air seem to be making a lot of cutbacks, and we assumed that the flight was not heavily used.

We arrived at the airport shortly after 11.00am in plenty of time to check in for a 1.10 flight. We were surprised to find no queue, and thought that it might be a mostly empty flight. We wandered through to the lounge area, and Richard showed me that beyond the main (crowded) lounge there was an almost empty area, otherwise identical, with the advantage of plug sockets available for laptop chargers. So he set his up:

.. and I decided to follow suit with my little netbook, although I had to sit on the floor to reach it easily:

We were a bit surprised that, even by 12.00 there was no gate listed for our flight. Then around 12.30 -when we should have been beginning to board - a note appeared on the screen next to our flight saying 'delayed'. No hint of how long the delay might be. We suspected - and it was later confirmed - that this was due to the air traffic controllers' strike in Greece, making it difficult for flights across that part of Europe. There had been many such delays that week.

An announcement came, around 1.00, that the flight was delayed until 2.30. So we went to find something to eat, as we were evidently not going to have our lunch on the plane. We bought some over-priced (but good) sandwiches and Richard had a coffee, and then we returned to our computers to catch up with email and Facebook. By the time 2.30 arrived the flight had been delayed until 3.30. It was almost 4.00 by the time it finally took off.

We were quite surprised to find that the flight was completely full. Other than a little turbulence a couple of times it was a smooth and uneventful one, landing around 7.10 (local time) in Manchester. We had a rental car booked with Avis, which took about half an hour to get sorted (due to a short queue...) and when we got to the car we realised that although it was the size we had booked, it was only a three-door car. So Richard went back to ask if we could exchange it - and after about half an hour, discovered that he could not, although we were told that we might be able to change it at their depot in Carlisle.

So it was 8.30 when we finally set out on the two-hour trip to see Daniel and Becky. We had previously hoped to reach them by about that time, driving mostly in daylight. The car was not particularly comfortable, but the journey was straightforward, guided all the way by the voice in Richard's phone.

By the time we arrived it was nearly 11.00pm. I had woken at 4.00am that morning in Cyprus, for some unknown reason (possibly because we usually have night flights!) so had been awake continuously for 21 hours (taking into account the two-hour time difference). I was unbelievably tired... but jet-lag never seems to be much of a problem coming this direction, so after a good night's sleep and a cup of Daniel's excellent aeropress coffee, I felt pretty much myself again, and very happy to see our son and daughter-in-law.

No comments: