I have often been described as having a ‘relaxed attitude to time’ when it comes to social events. However, when travelling, a minute can mean the difference between getting on your plane, train or bus or being left stranded.
On the morning that I was leaving for my InterRailing trip, having stayed up for most of the night getting documents ready and packing and repacking my bag, I was exhausted – and the trip had not even begun! My mum and sister were accompanying me to the airport and we had planned to leave the house at by 7am in order to allow enough time for me to complete the baggage drop and security procedures and have some time to relax before my 10.20am flight. However, at 8am we still had not left the house! By this point, I was in a rather panicked state and managed to forget my European Health Insurance Card, – only realising when we were halfway down the road to the tube station!
I quickly ran back home to get it and we ended up getting to the airport 15 minutes before baggage drop was about to close. After running down several moving walkways, I made it to the check-in desk. My printer had run out of ink the previous night after printing the details of my travel insurance so I had been unable to print my boarding pass. Thankfully the airline printed it for free!
I said a quick goodbye to my family and hurried off through security only to find that the flight had been delayed by 40 minutes. I was able to have my relaxation time after all!
You would think that after that experience I would have planned my time more effectively. However, on the night before I was due to fly to Thailand, I ended up staying up all night (again) – packing and repacking my backpack. I didn’t sleep until the early hours and my sister had to collect my malaria tablets and travel money! We ended up leaving for the airport an hour later than planned and I arrived at baggage drop 3 minutes before it was closing!
Again, I said a quick goodbye to my family and hurried through security in order to make it to the boarding gate in time!
The wake up call FINALLY came on the way home from Thailand.
On the morning of my last day in Thailand, I checked out of my hostel, left my bags in the storage area and set off to buy presents and souvenirs and enjoy a final day in Bangkok. After spending most of the day whizzing around on the sky train from one market/shopping centre to the next, I was exhausted!
For some reason I thought it would only take an hour to get from the hostel to the airport (I don’t know how I came to that conclusion) so I thought that if I left the hostel by 5pm, I would be at the airport by 6pm with plenty of time to check in, pass through security and relax before boarding the plane. However, it didn’t quite happen like that.
I arrived back at the hostel around 6pm (an hour later than planned) grabbed my bags and then ran down the road to the train station. I would’ve taken a taxi but it was the height of rush hour and the traffic literally stands still.
The journey involved taking one branch of the sky train to a central stop, changing to the other branch for a few stops and then taking the airport rail link from one end to the other.
By the time I reached the starting station of the airport rail link it was approaching 7pm and the next train wasn’t due to arrive for another 10 minutes!
My flight was at 8.40pm and I was meant to have completed the check-in and baggage drop process by 7.10pm. At 7.10pm, I was still on the train and was no where near the airport. My relaxed approach to time had finally caught up with me.
After shoving my newly purchased souvenirs into my rucksack, I started panicking and thinking of contingency plans and the inevitable phone call home to explain to my family that I had missed the plane, would be spending the night at the airport and would have to put a large dent in my finances to buy a ticket home for the next day.
On the train, I had spotted two fellow Brits who were also flying back to England that evening with the same airline. However, I saw from their boarding passes that their flight wasn’t leaving until 10pm and they were simply doing the sensible thing and getting to the airport early! I wondered if the airline would allow me on to that flight.
I arrived at the airport at 7.30pm – twenty minutes AFTER the check-in/baggage drop for my flight had closed. Of course ‘Departures’ was on the fourth floor. With all of the running and panicking of the last 90 minutes, I was exhausted but somehow managed to muster up the strength to run up four escalators, finding myself at the entrance to the departures hall.
I spotted the information desk and dived towards it before blurting out ‘Where’s the Emirates check-in desk?’
‘It’s in Zone T’ said the lady behind the counter.
I looked up and saw that I was standing in Zone A.
Time for more running.
This time I was dodging trolleys, suitcases, backpacks and small children.
When I arrived at the desk, thankfully there wasn’t a queue and I looked at the lady behind the counter and asked in a childlike voice ‘Is it too late to check-in?’
‘What time is your flight?’ She replied.
‘It’s supposed to be 8.40’ I said trying to display my most hopeful look.
‘Let me check’ she said.
She then proceeded to make a phone call and I waited nervously hoping that in a minute or so I would be celebrating rather than crying!
She hung up the phone.
‘It’s fine, you can check in’ she said.
The biggest grin spread across my face – and I couldn’t thank her enough! If it wasn’t because of my heavy backpack I would’ve leapt a foot into the air!
The debacle of that evening was the final wake up call.
I had the most amazing month in Thailand but missing the plane, being left stranded there and having to put a large dent in my bank account in order to get home would’ve been far from ideal.
My next adventure is several months away but I have already started planning and organising my packing list and other bits and bobs because, as I have found, last minute packing and re-packing is bound to lead to stress and panic…and a whole load of running!