This is a true story.
My young friend Lena (of the Bosporus) was finishing her time as an exchange student in Istanbul and discovered – shock!horror! – that all the clothes/books/shoes/stuff she’d magically acquired was neither going to fit in her suitcase nor be anywhere near her baggage allowance limit.
DHL wanted €500.
“You used to work for Cargo” they all cried ” Do something”.
The best idea I could come up with was to fly down in the morning with an empty suitcase, have lunch (or at least a coffee) with Lena and fly back laden down to the 30k business class limit.
Here’s how it went:
Flight’s due to leave at 9:15.
Much faffing around at the gate to replace a faulty solenoid that controls various cabin air-conditioning functionalities.
Head off to the runway and suddenly the aircraft veers off the taxiway to a bit of the tarmac that you get shunted off to if there are ATC delays.
Or any delays, for that matter.
Need some more mechanics.
Mechanics duly come along, do something else, do an engine run-up and then give up.
Captain says “Well, I’m not going to fly this piece of crap (or similar) and we have to toddle off to Moscow tonight, so it’s”goodbye” from us. But if you look out of the window to the left, you’ll see an aircraft just like this one. Exactly the same, actually, except it works, so we’ll transfer the luggage to the plane next door, the catering to the plane next door and you to the plane next door.”
Luggage transferred to the plane next door, catering transferred to the plane next door, us transferred to the plane next door.
Off we go 3 hours late, but at breakneck speed
Get to Istanbul (or the vicinity of) and fly holding patterns for 20 minutes.
It’s a UEFA soccer final or similar and the airport’s packed like a sardine can.
Get to the queue (of the slowest immigration officer I’ve ever experienced) at passport control with 1 hour 20 minutes before the flight back is due to leave.
People ahead of me are getting sent off to get visas, so I think “Ah, NZ passport probably isn’t very good here, use the UK one” Not that I’d checked whether I need a visa, but I’m relatively new at this travelling business. Only done a couple of million km..)
Sends me off to get a VISA! $20.
Bloody Germans don’t need one, bloody French don’t, bloody Italians don’t and neither do the sodding Spanish but Brits do. (Turns out that New Zealanders don’t either and it’s all to do with Gallipoli, but how was I to know…)
Queue for a visa
Queue up again at passport control (less than 1 hour before departure)
Through passport control, grab my bag to pack Lena’s stuff in, find Lena (who’s dressed as if she’s off to the disco – boobs and bare midriff all over the place and THIS in an Islamic country…)
She packs clothes/books/shoes/stuff (33k) while I find out how much time I have until check-in closes (5 minutes), decide what to do with a bottle of wine that I’m also meant to take (take it), check in, ask the check-in flossie if we have time for a coffee (“Not REALLY…”), disappear through passport control.
22 minutes in Turkey.
So when I get to Frankfurt, I’ve been sat in airplanes for about 10 hours (which would actually get me to L.A) and had no decent food, let alone a decent coffee.
Got a fair bit of reading done, though…