This Travel Nightmares story is told by David Ashton, a frequent reader and commented for EELife and EDA Designline.
Years ago, when I was working in Airline Communications, Zimbabwe, I used to have to travel to Europe once in a while - usually Paris as the company head office was located there. I used to use Ethiopian airlines a fair bit - they had a flight leaving Harare at 6 AM to Addis Ababa, with a transfer to a flight which went to Frankfurt and London, arriving late afternoon. From Frankfurt there were frequent flights to other European cities so you could be almost anywhere and get a reasonable night's sleep. That meant you would be bright eyed and bushy tailed for a meeting or course on Monday morning. And I got to spend Saturday at home. It did mean getting up at an unearthly hour on Sunday, but to compensate for this Ethiopian Airlines used to give us first class between Harare and Addis, and business class the rest of the way. Niiiice.....
I once had a three day course on UPSs, in Grenoble, France, starting on a Tuesday. So my usual Ethiopian Airlines flight would get me to Paris on Sunday night, I could get the TGV (fast train) to Grenoble on Monday morning and be there in plenty of time for the course.Yeah, right......
First of all we were delayed out of Harare. Not a lot, but the connection in Addis was tight and it was touch and go whether I would make the Frankfurt flight. We got to Addis and as we got into the airport they were closing the doors on the Frankfurt plane. There were no more flights to anywhere in Europe that day, so Ethiopian put us up overnight. We had an office in Addis and the manager was a good friend, so I gave him a call and got treated to a fine Ethiopian meal - I was fond of Ethiopian food, so that was a real treat.
The next morning I went to our comms centre and messaged my boss in Paris, telling him what had happened and asking him to rebook my Paris hotel and the TGV. He replied and said he had done it, but didn't sound pleased with my delays. I got the Monday flight to Frankfurt and then to Paris. On Tuesday morning I visited the office, got a lecture from my boss on planning trips to account for delays, and picked up my TGV ticket. The TGV was fast but only left Paris in the late morning and arrived in Grenoble around 3 PM. I got a taxi to the course venue and got there to a round of applause from my classmates about half an hour before they finished for the day.
The course was a bit of a disappointment but Grenoble was a nice town, I found a restaurant which did a divine Moules Marinieres, and I found time to scour the shops for a silver teaspoon with the town's coat of arms on for my wife's collection. So, on the whole, not toooo bad a trip....
Editor's Note: Please share your stories with us. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion into an upcoming travel nightmares blog. To see more stories in this series.
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