Sunday, November 15, 2015

You had one job

Another weekend aviation experience. The economy FlyDubai was just fine and relatively inexpensive. I booked another flight for Thanksgiving weekend at an astonishing QAR382 return including 20kg checked baggage allowance.

But that’s in a fortnight’s time. Here is what happened when I attempted to board last Saturday’s flight.

We all piled on to the airport bus and were driven lumberingly out towards the row of parked FlyDubai aircraft. The bus driver swung to the left and stopped at the steps, and the self-loading cargo waited for the door to open. The bus went forwards, and backwards, and forwards again. It would appear that the bus driver had taken a wrong turn and arrived at the wrong aircraft. That is in itself a big bag of oops. Then the driver tried to drive his ponderous bus around the front of this aircraft.

Here was the problem. There was a sign pole and a safety fence in the way to the left, and a pushback to the right, attached to the nosewheel of the aforementioned aircraft. Instead of realizing that an airport bus wouldn’t fit through this tiny gap, the driver jammed the bus between these two obstacles and stopped. He may have realised his error, but didn’t immediately reverse. Meanwhile, other ground crew rolled the boarding ladder away from the aircraft and blocked the bus from reversing.

Was this a prank being played on Nobby Newbloke?

We waited. Time passed. Thorin sat down and started singing about gold. At last somebody noticed the problem and moved the steps. The bus reversed, unblocked the road, and ten minutes’ worth of airport vehicles were released like Formula 1 cars when the safety car returns to the pits.

And once this queue had dispersed, the bus driver had another run up. This time the pushback actually moved out of the way, pushing the aircraft. Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes!

But it still wasn’t over. The bus eventually pulled up alongside the correct aircraft. Were we allowed out? Oh no! The bus had to reverse so that the passengers could be directed to either the front or the back of the aircraft. This is all fine and sensible, and yet apparently not in “Airport Bus Driver: Rules. For the Reading and Understanding and Compliance Of.”

It gets better: there was a second bus following this one’s every move.

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