The One Where I Almost Missed My Flight

After waking up at 5am, 6am, and 7am this morning, I finally scraped myself out of the hotel bed, stumbled into the shower, and then set about folding clothes into my bag. Going home at last. After wandering across the room in search of underwear, I realised the crane on the construction site across the way was pointing directly at the window – no doubt gifting the driver a rather unexpected view of a very naked, very sleepy englishman.

Down in the hotel reception I joined the queue of people checking out, and kicked myself when I realised the bottle of water I opened in the room had not been added to the bill. I’m wondering now if the small bottles of wine were complimentary too.

After a quiet journey across Frankfurt on the train, I arrived at the airport at about half past eight, and made my way through the various escalators towards check-in. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes – there had to be five or six hundred people waiting to check their bags in. I joined the snaking line, and looked at my watch. My flight was scheduled for 11am. I should have plenty of time, right ?

After perhaps half an hour in the queue to check bags, and a five minute walk towards the departure gates, I realised the line of people I was walking past was the line of people waiting for boarding pass checks. I turned around, and followed the line – joining the end. It had to have at least six or seven hundred people in it, and wasn’t the only line. After another three quarters of an hour, I discovered why – all of the automatic boarding pass checking machines were down. Two members of staff were checking EVERYBODY.

You can imagine what I thought when I wandered into the security check hall – which had perhaps a thousand people snaking in all directions. I joined the back of the queue, and started trying to figure out how long it took to travel from one end of the room to the other – to figure out if I was going to miss my flight. Then after perhaps twenty minutes in the queue, fate smiled on me. A security guard ushered perhaps fifty of us into a second hall, jumping the queue entirely. Ten minute later I was through security, and on my way (not before a security officer checked my sweaty armpits, which apparently set the body scanner off).

I arrived at the gate printed on my boarding pass with ten minutes to spare, so found a seat. While sitting there, I began wondering why no Lufthansa staff were at the gate, and checked the boarding pass again. The gate for the aircraft had changed at the 11th hour – it was now perhaps half a mile away. I started running, flat out through the airport.

I arrived at the gate just as the passengers started going through to the plane, so joined the end of the queue, out of breath, but massively relieved. I worked it out on my watch – it took two and a half hours to get from the train, to the aircraft. While wondering why – because check-in and security usually take about half an hour – something occurred to me. Easter. Half of Frankfurt were getting on flights with their children to go away for Easter.

Thankfully the rest of the day was entirely unremarkable – sitting next to an intimidatingly beautiful German woman on the plane, avoiding the rugby scrum to get off the plane, walking several miles beneath Heathrow to catch the train to London, and then jumping on the first train towards home. I gave up the waiting game about ten miles from home after missing a connecting train – instead of waiting for the better part of an hour I checked my wallet for cash and jumped in a taxi.

The taxi driver asked “how was Frankfurt”, which threw me for a few moments – until I realised he had seen the tag on my luggage. “Oh, tiring”, I said, then felt guilty about shutting the conversation down for the remainder of the journey.

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