Saturday, 6 August 2011

Delay, Delay, Delay.

 Just back from the inside of a week in England; a wonderful meeting-up with Mrs. F and the Fingernails after six weeks' absence. England was a joy: great weather and no traffic jams, but I realise I just got lucky there, nothing more. It was interesting to see signs in Russian up in Wisbech, a sleepy Georgian market town and epicentre of the local agricultural picking and packing trade and now host to many Eastern European labourers who have done nothing but win friends since their arrival a few years ago. Many return home once the season's over, others stay on and pick up other work. They're also buying businesses and houses, so they're definitely there to stay.

The only downside of the trip was the experience with Swiss Airlines, or whatever they're called this week. Every flight I took was delayed, one connection (same company) was missed and even the Nuremberg flight I was re-booked on after a three-hour hang around took off late. If you're flying via Zurich, as I was, you have to go through passport control and security before picking up your connecting flight, yet there appears to be no airport coordination between a late-arriving Swiss flight and its subsequent connections. There's certainly no fast track for short connections; everyone stands in line as the few border guards there are peer at every passport as if it's the first time they've seen a travel document. They're not going anywhere, so they're not in a hurry. You either make your connecting flight or you do not, there appears to be no kind of policy and everyone you speak to has a dim, glazed-over expression on their face as if mildly surprised you wish to reach your destination as planned. The route Nuremberg-Zurich-Manchester was stressful but the return trip turned out to be less so as we got so late they just informed us we'd all miss our connections and that we should go to the Transfers Desk to pick up our new boarding passes for later flights. They came accompanied with a voucher for CHF 10 which will get you a beer and a pretzel, at least it will if you get up and remind the dozy waitress of your order after waiting for fifteen minutes. I can safely say I have never encountered such a dozy, thick, initiative-free and gormless group of people as I met flying Swiss this last week. God only knows how the country got so rich if this is the mentality. The only part of the trip which worked was when the plane was in the air, but even Air France gets that bit right. Getting to the plane and getting it in the air was the big challenge, and here they failed dismally. A trip which should have taken twelve hours door-to-door ended up taking 18. Never again if I have the choice.

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