Saturday, April 17, 2010

Goat versus the Volcano

Stuck in the UK for the foreseeable future, here goes with something to let my regular readers know that I haven't actually dropped off the planet.

Since the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano erupted last Wednesday, all flights in and out of UK airspace have ceased, and my return to the Lands of the Sand scheduled for Saturday has been delayed. I do not for one moment blame the airlines for this, nor the UK's Air Traffic Controllers; I was previously aware of the experience on board BA009 back in June 1982, when Captain Eric Moody ended up piloting a Boeing 747 glider.

It's a bit of a shame that when I tried to talk to my airline, Qatar Airways proved impossible to contact. This can only be the airline's fault: there isn't even a recorded message to say that there are no flights until Monday. Passengers, including members of the frequent non-flyers' club, get no info at all at any time of the day or night. I suspect that the phones have simply been left off the hook. None of the London numbers were answered, which is exactly what used to happen a few years ago when Qatar Airways required passengers to reconfirm 72 hours prior to flying. The international phone number gleaned off the airline's website went straight through to hold music. This is not useful when ringing Muscat from England, and is even less useful as a source of flight information.

Oh, and a website that says that there is no information, and for further information to log on to the website is right up there with inflatable dartboards and chocolate teapots.

I eventually managed to talk to someone in Doha, who told me that there were no QA flights out of Gatwick until Monday 19 April. I reconfirmed my seat for Monday, and put in a request that if there were any further cancellations or rescheduling, that I be contacted by phone or email.

You gotta laugh, haven't you?

Then to extend the car rental. The national help desk phone number's robot woman took all my details and then cut me off. Twice. Finally I got through on a different phone number to a nice Irish woman who dealt with extending the rental. She congratulated me for having a Hertz car on hire before amending the details.

So now I wait. Truth be told, there are worse places to wait for my flight than the Gnomads' house. The marble floor of Gatwick Airport's north terminal springs to mind. Truly a Pollyanna moment.

Another Pollyanna moment was amusingly provided by the BBC in a tragic case of non-joined-up thinking. I was watching the magic idiot-box chez Nanny Goat and learned that the total lack of air travel in the UK has apparently resulted in reduced CO2 emissions of some 100,000 tonnes per day. So not flying is good for the environment. So what is pushing all that volcanic ash into the earth's atmosphere then? Polar bears' farts?

It is such a shame that this whole volcano thing is eating into my annual leave. Come September when I'm going nuts after a summer in Dubai, I'll not have enough leave remaining to go abroad, and this is not good.

Edited Sunday 18th April to add:

Qatar Airways' flight out of Gatwick tomorrow morning was cancelled. I rang the ticketing help line, only to be advised by a machine that all the UK employees are enjoying their weekend. The office in Doha advised that the next available seat is on the totally unacceptable Saturday 1st May. How...helpful.



nzm said...

Grumpy Goat is not coming in Dubai.

Sorry about all the jokes GG, it must suck to be stuck in the UK and the loss of holiday time is not funny.

Hope you get home soon.

Seabee said...

The volcano (who gave it that name?) looks like beating me too. We're booked to fly to Heathrow tomorrow night but that's looking highly doubtful now.

Enjoy the heatwave they're having in the UK Mr Goat...

Susan said...

Is there anyone actually left in Dubai? Virtually everyone I know is stuck somewhere else except for my dear husband who left the day before it all went pear shaped.

Stuck in the West Coast of Scotland and rumours of a heatwave are greatly overstated!

Mme Cyn said...

GG's Beloved Wife is raging at Hephaestus. This will be at least the third time our scheduled trip to Italy will have to be postponed. Grrrrrr. Madam does not like to be thwarted...

Sirrah said...

Just take the credit cards and go on your own to Italy Mme Cyn.

Nickybkrsfld said...

Polar bear's farts - you are inspired! And totally wasted in your current job where you are not appreciated one bit for your lyrical prose. Do they even know who the Grumpy Goat is?!!

Grumpy Goat said...

As you know from a later blog post, Nicky, the Goat is absolutely not appreciated in his erstwhile job. So the job market beckons...

"Treacherous, malicious, unprincipled cad, preferably non-smoker, wanted to be King of Sardinia. No time-wasters please. Apply Napoleon Bonaparte, PO Box 1, Paris."


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