That Time I Missed My Flight

Posted on November 1, 2012

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Boarding Pass Easyjet

Missing your flight; it’s a travelers worst nightmare and recently, it became my oh so frustrating reality. The worst thing? I have no one to blame but myself.

Barcelona From The Sky

Goodbye Barca!

After one last sea-side dinner, our romantic week in Barcelona was coming to an end. Earlier that afternoon, I had spent an hour researching how and when to get to the airport. I used to be a nervous wreck every time I was to board an airplane, but over the past 2 years I have gotten used to flying and everything that comes with it. So this time, I was confident that it would all go smoothly. Our bags were packed, we had checked in online for our 9:50 AM flight and we had printed out the boarding passes. We were prepared, so without a care in the world, we enjoyed our last night eating tapas by the sea, drinking sangria after sangria, wishing we could stay for another week.

The next morning, I was awoken by the screeching sound of an alarm that had slowly made its way into my dreams. A jolt of panic seared through my body as the digits on the screen told me what time it was. 8:20; a mere hour and a half before the plane was supposed to take off. 6 days worth of rest and relaxation were shot to shit as I frantically woke up Nick, jumped out of bed and started dressing.

10 minutes later we were out and about. Having already checked in online, there was still a good chance we’d make it if we’d use the Aerobus service that would take us straight to the terminal in about 35 minutes. I had already checked which bus stop was closest to our apartment so we knew exactly where to go. Only… we didn’t.

There was no bus stop. There was no Aerobus. There was no time. First thing we could think of was to take the subway to Plaza Catalunya and take the bus from there. Thankfully it was still early so there were no crowds at the metro station. We arrived at Plaza Catalunya at 8:50, just in time to catch the bus and, with a little luck, make our flight!

The bus ride went smoother than expected. Within 25 minutes we were standing right in front of Terminal 1 at El Prat airport.

BCN Airport

I’ll be honest: I hate BCN airport. Image: Stijlfoto

Relief came over me; baggage drop-off didn’t close until 20 minutes before take off so we would still be able to make it. I felt my shoulders relax a little as I searched the departures board for the 9:50 flight to Eindhoven airport.

It wasn’t there. We were at the wrong terminal.

Yeah, really. Barcelona has not one, but two terminals and they are 4 km apart. Since our Transavia tickets didn’t specify which terminal our flight would depart from, we had just assumed it would be T1 (At the time we had a very logical explanation for this, which at the moment I can’t remember). Well, obviously we’d assumed wrong. With about 10 minutes to go until the baggage drop-off closed, we ran through the airport like Usain Bolt on Red Bull, in search of the shuttle bus that runs between T1 and T2.

In Barcelona, everybody takes their time and this does not exclude the airport shuttle bus driver. After a 20 minute drive, we reached T2 about 10 minutes before take-off. I couldn’t believe this was happening until I saw the closed check-in desk with my own eyes. The departures board showed a big fat “GATE CLOSED” announcement, right next to our flight and my heart sank.

Whatever you do, don’t panic! Thank god for smartphones.

“Shit!” would be putting it lightly. I had never missed a flight before so I had no clue what I was supposed to do next. Nick and I both had gigs the next day so staying in Barcelona for one more night was not an option. We tried looking for the Transavia service desk and found it to be closed; the kind lady at the airport information desk later explained that they always close 10 minutes after their last flight. Last. Flight. Guess booking another seat with them wouldn’t be an option.

 

Be careful what you wish for. The night before I had said I didn’t want to leave this place. It looked like I was getting exactly what I wanted.

When I realized I couldn’t change the situation, I figured I’d just make the most of it. We treated ourselves to some coffee and donuts and stationed ourselves on a patch of grass in front of the terminal. As soon as I sat down, I felt my body relax. I was being ridiculous; the sun was shining, I had a fully charged smart phone and some money on my savings account… there was no need to panic. Sure, it sucked, but everything was gonna be fine and I might as well enjoy the last few hours of sunshine. I looked over at Nick and smiled. I could tell he was thinking the exact same thing.

Boarding Pass Easyjet

“If you’re late, we won’t wait!”

A little while later, after some searching, we were in possession of 2 Easyjet tickets to Amsterdam. It would have been nice if we could have saved the €120 each, but at least we were going home. With a couple of hours to spare we returned to our patch of grass to soak up our last rays of Mediterranean sun together. While Nick was calling home, I lazily watched as people ran in and out of the airport, going about their business in a stressful manner, when suddenly someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to find the cutest little toddler holding out his little fist, beaming at me, his mom right behind him, smiling. I held out my hand and he dropped in a little daisy, blinked at me and waddled away giggling.

Such a small gesture can make all the difference on a day like this, I though to myself. Despite the stress (and financial setback) that came with missing our flight, that extra day was the perfect ending to our week of bliss. Although next time I’ll be a little more careful with what I’m wishing for.

Have you ever missed your flight? Leave a comment below or get involved by following A Couple Steps Forward on Twitter or Facebook.

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