Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ireland: Dublin to Amsterdam (Sunday, March 2)

Written Sunday, March 2 at 11:09 am (Dublin time), somewhere over England

Boy, it doesn’t take but one experience to show you how much airports suck.

Make that how much American airports suck.

With a 9:40 am flight to Amsterdam, I caught the 7:55 bus to the airport from the City Centre.  I know, that’s less that a two-hour window, and in the States they always recommend a minimum two hours, three if you’re flying international.  (Which is utter bullshit, of course.  The only time you need two hours is if you’re flying a hub airline before 8:00 am on a business day.  And I’ve not seen any reason to need an hour beyond that for international flights, since there’s nothing extra you usually need to do.)

I would guess (based on the number of terminals and the number of posted flights for a Sunday morning) that Dublin’s airport is 1/2 to 2/3 the size of SeaTac, with of course vastly more traffic going International.  At the Dublin airport, they don’t have separate ticket counters for checking in for each airline, which in the States leaves some deserted and some utterly mobbed.  Instead, in Dublin they have check-in areas allocating different departing flights to different areas.  Load balancing!  Efficiency!  Imagine!  And thus my wait for a check-in machine: zero people.  My wait for checking my bags: zero people.  My wait to have the security person check my boarding pass and passport: two people.  My wait to go through security: zero people.  (And they didn’t make me remove my shoes, either!)

In other words, the absolute best check in and security experience you can imagine in today’s environment.  Less than 10 minutes from arriving at the check-in area to being through security, at 8:20 am.

On the other had, Aer Lingus still sucks.  Same lousy legroom, same hawking of perfume and charging for beverages.  And let’s add in that the seats in front of the exit rows don’t recline, so I’m having to uncomfortably turn sideways just to type this.  And the various regular announcements are spoken in English but from a tape in Irish (with a big increase in volume levels), and the speaker is right over my head, so I have to plug my ears every time an Irish announcement comes on, or go deaf.

But that’s not the worst of it.  There’s some sort of a threatened Aer Lingus strike in the air, and that apparently has taken the effect of either a slowdown or a sick out for the baggage handlers.  Which means we boarded on time… and sat on the tarmack.  40 minutes after we were scheduled to take off, they finally fired up the engines… and we sat for another 25 minutes before we finally left.

(And yes, there was the requisite crying baby, wailing the entire time.)

You’ll recall that coming through Amsterdam, we had a two-hour scheduled layover that turned into five hours.  Going back (me today, Mom and Grandma on Tuesday), we’re only scheduled for a one-hour layover.

I’ll pause to let you do the probability math…

Yup.  My flight to Amsterdam is now scheduled to arrive after my connection home departs.  (Even at the 40-minutes late mark, I doubt they could have transferred my luggage in time.)  Which leaves me at a loss for how long my delay will be in Amsterdam; depends on how often Northwest and KLM leave for Seattle (not sure which I’m taking back; check-in in terminal said KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines – but boarding pass says Northwest, which we flew to Amsterdam last week; they are partners, obviously).

Mom did buy Trip Insurance, so that will be my first thing to check when I get there.  I think it doesn’t kick in until there’s a 6-hour delay or some such, though.  (And whether it gets me anything, or just reimburses her, I don’t know.)

The cynical yet hopeful side of me says “Maybe they’ll bump me by 12 or 24 hours, and I’ll have to (get to) go into Amsterdam for a period of time, maybe even having them put me up for the night.”  Damn, I’d hate that.

I’m reminded that the guys I was originally in the row with on the flight to Amsterdam last week expressed that they couldn’t imagine having to get on another flight after the long one to Seattle, implying too much stress and annoyance to handle.  I think I get what they meant, now.

Updated on January 14, 2010

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