Sunday 5 December 2021

In flights of intermittent piquancy

The gut is a prophet

My deepest premonitions, I should trust a bit more, for they forestall frustration, disappointment, resentment, and complaint. You can set your expectations to the level where you are accommodating not so much of incompetence or even a residency in cynicism but in the realism of what can obtain when systems are not perfect because the human beings who designed it with all their best efforts and the those who use the system are just not perfect too.

My flight from Manchester to Paris, or in airport code MAN-CDG was early, something I rarely do to punish myself, it was to take off at 6:05 AM, if I had to be at the airport at least 2 hours before, it meant I had to get a cab there from home round 3:00 AM. That whole setting meant; I did not sleep overnight.

Timing without priming

The flight itself took off at 6:25 AM, 20 minutes late and with a stopover in Paris for my connecting flight being 1h25, I was concerned about me getting on that flight from Paris to Cape Town (CDG-CPT) and then of my baggage making it too. There was no time for shopping or lounging, I was straight to the gate in Paris where boarding had begun.

It was to take off at 10:10 AM, but that was delayed until 10:39 AM, meaning my Paris stopover had extended 24 minutes to 1h49. The captain had announced that the reason for our delay was they were expecting baggage, which seemed to allay my fears that my baggage would not make it, how wrong I was.

A flight in slight

On the MAN-CDG leg, the Airbus 320 had on-board Wi-Fi which I used to communicate with friends and I was expecting that same service on the CDG-CPT leg, which when I bought the flight ticket was supposed to be a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, but we ended up on a Boeing 777-328(ER), the seating configuration completely different from when I booked a seat, it was a 2-3-2 seating plan instead of a 1-2-1, though seats were occupied as if in a 1-2-1 configuration.

There was no Wi-Fi for that 10h40 journey apart from the seating being a bit cramped, yet from my reading of the flight details, it has only been in service for 5 years. Having a spare seat beside you is quite different from having a wider space to occupy, my 6-foot frame I had to pull up as my seat did not fully recline as would have been the case on the originally designated flight and my long feet always scratched the top of the foot compartment. I made myself as comfortable as I could.

To places from above

The most I do out of in-flight entertainment is listen to music, I am more fascinated by the interactive maps that I have in constant view except when it is switched off because I have fallen asleep. I was surprised that we took a southwestern bearing from Paris towards the border with Spain flying over the majestic Pyrenes which are always a wonder to behold especially in the winter.

We left Spain, just by Valencia over the Mediterranean Sea into another beautiful mountain range, the adoring folds of topology are a sight to behold from above. We did not fly over it, Mascara was to the west, it is not etymologically related to cosmetic mascara which has an Italian origin. Then the flight path took into northeast Mali, pinching the southwest of Niger and then northeast of Burkina Faso before flying the length of the Benin Republic and exiting the African landmass into the Gulf of Guinea at Porto Novo.

Flightpath from Paris to Cape Town.

The person of my baggage

The greater length of the flight was over water until South Africa and the approach to land at Cape Town. The aircrew was extremely pleasant and nice with a genial and warm disposition. I caught about 5 hours of sleep combined as it was a daytime flight, after an early lunch, we pulled down the blinds to darken the interior and caught as much kip as we could. I usually change into my pyjamas for these long-haul flights, you shouldn’t be sleeping in a suit, and I always wear compression socks.

On arrival in Cape Town, we filled in passenger tracking forms and showed my Fitness to Travel (PCR test) certificate and made it through passport control to pick up my baggage at carousel 2. That was when we learnt that more than half the baggage that should have been on our flight had been left in Paris. I think I should get an additional set of air miles for the journey of the baggage which I have been able to ascertain took the route CDG-AMS-CPT and might have arrived late on Saturday night for my collection, sometime on Sunday.

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