There are many things I love about travel, but airports aren’t one of them. As a child I loved the excitement of going to the check in desk, getting a special card with your name on it, and having it re-checked and scanned by various staff along the way.
That was pre-9/11, and – if your were travelling to the Republic of Ireland – as I often did with my family, pre-passports. In fact, I didn’t have a passport until 2002, when I did my first long haul flight to Japan. Even then, Heathrow had a certain amount of excitement to it – as did the Aeroflot plane that was taking me to Japan. You want to smell the fear? Fly Aeroflot. (Taste it too with their in flight meals)
But with the advent of security checks and extra checks, and budget airlines insisting that you print off your own boarding pass and pack everything into a shoebox – or face hefty fees – the romance and the excitement of an airport is lost.
And romance soon turns to sweaty palms when the security woman points at my laptop and says the word “explosives”. Just to be clear, she did have quite a strong Indian accent and I’m still getting over a big hangover, so you can understand my confusion and, yes, terror at this point.
Thankfully my computer had no explosives in it so I’m soon on my way to The Other Side, also known as the departure lounge. Now to me, the word “lounge” means relaxing, enjoying and indulging. At airport it means captive audience. Indeed, this very blog is brought to you by race-against-time 30 minutes free wifi. Anything beyond that is going to cost me a fiver.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE (OR COMPUTER SAYS NO)
I’ve decided to indulge myself a little on this trip. A four star hotel and a pre booked car from the airport to Tallinn City Centre. Get me, huh?
Except I made a mistake in the booking, and signed up my return lift a day too early. Thankfully, the company’s website has a helpful “24 hour emergency” phone number to sort things out. Except the only answer I got from its operators was “we can’t actually do that outside office hours”. Having pressed the “cancel” button, I’m then told I’d still be charged the full amount. Nice.
As it turns out, helpful Helen (from the actual office rather than the monkey enclosure) has offered to reinstate my booking and emend it at no extra charge. NewsMutt’s top travel tip : shout loudly and you’ll often get your way. Let’s hope the Estonian driver hasn’t been told to “deal with him” once I get there.