Today was supposed to be a day of true bravery. I, Emily Pulham, am petrified of flying (probably shouldn’t have moved to an island then, hey?), but decided in the name of saving £200 that I would be just fine taking off and landing three separate times in one day on my way to visit my friend in Oman.
I left the house at 5:15AM UK time and as of 22:20PM will not have budged further than Frankfurt airport.
It all went wrong at Heathrow airport, whilst sitting on the first of three flights. We didn’t take off, and then the pilot made a rather bizarre announcement about a bird strike. I started having a peak at twitter (bored) and noticed the BBC’s breaking news service tweeting that a BA plane had had an engine catch on fire on take off, and had to make an emergency landing at Heathrow; complete with a picture of the plane on the ground surrounded by fire trucks and evacuation slides. It then dawned on me that this was a matter of metres away from me and I pretty much lost my shit, started sweating immensely and wanted to get off the plane.
The older lady next to me calmed me down, but we were held up for over an hour, and I missed my connecting flight at Frankfurt.
Here’s where the true joy started. I had to travel to another terminal on their air train (I ended up on that thing 7 times in one day) and waited for nearly an hour to find out what to do next.
The woman took a look at my flight.
Her- “Ahh yes your plane landed at 12:05 and your next flight left at 12:20.”
Me- “The gate was closed by the time I landed…”
Her- “Oh I know, there was absolutely no way you could have made that flight- even if you were superwoman! And you are not superwoman! Ha ha, no you are not superwoman!”
I’ve had a rough morning, let’s calm it down with the insults, yeah?
It then transpired that every single method of going to Oman was booked solid, and I was then offered a series of god awful flights to countries that I had never heard of (or countries that only I recognized from hearing their names on the news when British tourists are murdered there.) All the flights offered landed in these places at 2-3 AM and involved me just hanging out there on my own, waiting for the next connection. I said no to them over and over again, but after being offered hanging out in Doha (?) for 5 hours between 2-7AM I felt a direct approach was more suitable.
Me- “ I dunno, do you have anything a little less dangerous?”
Her- “Dangerous? What do you mean?”
Me- “Something a little less….rape-y maybe?”
Me- “It’s just, I’m a petite blonde American woman with a broken foot and I don’t want to fly to a country where I don’t know anyone, where I don’t speak the language and don’t have any of their currency at 2AM and then stay there alone in the airport for hours. It’s not a good decision, and I’d rather go back to London than do that.”
Her- “Well we can’t offer you a hotel if you’ve refused reasonable flights. We won’t pay out for that, otherwise it’s too expensive.”
Me “Those aren’t reasonable flights, but I can see how sending me to Doha in the middle of the night alone is cheaper for Lufthansa. I do understand that.”
Her- “I’ll go get my manager.”
Eventually we settled on me getting to hang out in Frankfurt (which is a city I genuinely like) for 8 hours and then flying overnight to Dubai (“the airport there is so safe!!! You are going to love it!!!!”), arriving at a reasonable hour, and then carrying on to Oman and arriving a mere 12 hours late.
I would then be flying on Emirates, and when I asked where to check in:
Her- “You want to go to Zone E. E for…. E for…. Hmmm, E for…”
Me- “E for Emirates?”
Her- “Oh!! Yes that is very good, I did not think of that.”
As I thanked her and enquired about leaving the airport she went “Oh! Make sure you take the exit to Germany” which I thought was odd. I’m at an airport in Germany; what are the other exit options? Turned out it was good she said that because the first exit I tried was not for Germany. I asked someone how to get out of the airport and he said “Ah!! You want the exit for Germany, this is not the exit for Germany!”
I still have no idea what the other exit is for.
Eventually I figured out how to leave the airport. I then went to Emirates to check in (E for Emirates) which was another ride on the little train thing. I then had to go back to the original terminal (back on the air train)…. to take a train to Frankfurt.
Around this point I started regretting putting my crutches in my checked baggage.
Frankfurt is lovely. Especially if you like banks. There are lots of banks. It’s steeped with history, and easy to navigate on foot. The only odd bit was an adorable man in his late 70s with kinda old-school slicked back hair and a suit talking to a young Muslim on the street, and shaking his hand. It really touched me to see the generations overcoming their differences post WWII and getting along and I thought now THIS, THIS is the meaning of life.
While I was stood there thinking this, the older man then goose-stepped away and did a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute to the next two non-white people he saw.
I’m not even kidding.
I didn’t really speak enough German to understand what the fuck I had just witnessed, but decided it was time to head back to the airport.