Here’s another old story… I couldn’t resist posting it, I’ve suddenly it remember while listening to her only album.

Once upon a time at the airport, there was a PSA walking back to her office, all by herself [I can’t really keep up with the 3rd person business…that PSA was me!]. Now, there’s definitely a feeling of “us vs. them” whenever you’re in the departure lounge. It’s something that you inherit from whoever mentors you during your first weeks at the airport… so, with this stupid notion in my system I did what any other airport staff member would have done in my situation: walk very fast, looking busy, which works 7 out of 10 times. Of course this wasn’t 7 of those 10 times and on my race to ‘the other side’ I got stopped by a passenger. A woman, who asked me the gate number for the Galway flight. She looked very familiar and for a moment I wondered if she was a frequent flyer or a regular in one of my favorite clubs. The truth hit me after walking up to a screen to learn her flight was leaving from gate 3: that lady was Kate Nash!

I faced a dilemma: I could either thank her for her creativity and funny tunes, confessing how much I like them or simply tell her her gate number and point her in the right direction, in the nicest possible way of course, that’s what my job is about. I went for option two. If I’d been a guy I’d probably would have walked her all the way to the gate, which is what my ‘mate’ Martin told me he would have done. The thing is that I was going back to the office because it was the end of my shift, and that is one sacred moment you don’t wanna miss.


Today was actually a good day. My day has been busy but it wasn’t harder than the average busy day. We all came into work expecting chaos and large waves of angry passengers. We got good management instead, that was a nice change.

I think we’re all used to the snow now: passengers know they’re not gonna get anywhere, airport staff know what they’re meant to be doing with the equipment they have and passenger services know all the airlines’ phone numbers off by heart. The fact that it was REALLY hard to get to the airport helped…. Even the airport website was working properly, providing accurate updates since the minute snow started sticking on the ground.

I remember the first time I experienced flight disruptions. I was meant to be checking-in a Gibraltar flight and I was terrified. I’d never had to deal with a flight cancellation before and the airline in question is of the ‘demanding’ kind. You’d think I had received enough training but the truth is that they barely prepared me to what dealing with a long delay/cancellation is like; the supervisor told me what I was meant to be saying and handed be about a hundred cancellation letters, two minutes before check-in was due to open.

This GIB flight was canceled due to weather conditions in Gibraltar, which is an annoyingly placed rock on the Mediterranean Sea, between Spain and Africa. I honestly think we’d all be way happier if it was deserted! The thing with GIB is that strong winds often cause flight diversions into Malaga Airport and then the passengers are coached to GIB; on this particular occasion The Airline had simply decided to cancel the flight altogether. So, there I was, with about 150 people queuing up in front of me, whom the screens had already warned that about the cancellation of their flight.

I’ve always been a people watcher and there was a part of me that was curious about how everything was gonna turn out. It wasn’t that bad at first, most people seemed to understand the reasons for the cancellation and were obediently making their way to ticket desk in order to rebook their flights or get refund. Eventually, the queue at ticket desk became so long that people kept coming back to check-in in order to get some more information: here’s where problems started. As a newbie I KNEW NOTHING, I hadn’t even had a proper read of the three-page letter that I was handing out (if only I had been given a little bit more time…).

There was one gentleman whose questions exhausted all my knowledge, which made him very very angry. I was determined to remain as calm as possible. Whenever I didn’t know an answer to a question apologised for not knowing and gave him two options: join the queue and ask the people at ticket desk or call the number on the letter. His questions were quite intricate, in all honesty. At one point he slammed his fist on my desk and shouted “I don’t wanna call anybody, I want YOU TO TELL ME”. I sat there and smiled without saying a word. The uncomfortable silence died out to the sound of his mobile phone. He looked at me again, still annoyed, I could tell, but also a little embarrassed about his very loud display of emotion. And that was that. I don’t know if he managed to change his flight, if he left the airport, or if he found another PSA to harass with his ridiculous claims and questions (you have to believe me: they were ridiculous!) The story made its way around the office… that was one fun day. For me.


Snowflakes

04Jan10

Matt Brazil's caption of airport staff making a snowman

Sometimes it takes a “big happening” to wake you up to what you’re living. In my case, it was the chaos generated by the snowy weather we had last month. The airport was suddenly turned into a shelter home where stranded passengers, in larger numbers than the usual, slept and sat everywhere! There simple wasn’t enough space for that vast amount of people. I thought it was really funny when Easy Jet had to give up their crew room to accommodate some ┬ápassengers since they’re so precious about that space anyway.

On one of these snowy mornings, at an insanely early hour, walking my way up to the airport -because it was physically impossible for my taxi to access the drop off point- I started thinking about all the things I’ve been through since I work here. Those tales would make a great blog, I thought to myself… and that’s how this blog came to be.

So, just like the accumulation of tiny snowflakes resulted in a thick white snow cloak that enhanced the usually boring and not-very-attractive airport surroundings, the following collection of stories is meant to form a mosaic of what it’s like to work somewhere where it’s never quiet.




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