Where should I start… perhaps from the start. To be ambitious, I’ll even keep two timezones going.
So, yesterday I woke up at 5.15 (3.15 uk) after having slept for about three hours. It was pitch black and raining. When I got to the airport it was about 6.15 (4.15 uk). Queue to check-in wasn’t that bad, I think the summer and tourist season is starting to be truly over. Got through safety checks and passport control quite swiftly and was at the gate around 6.45 (4.45 uk). At this point my mind usually starts to switch over to England and to work and all the stuff I have to do the minute I get to the office. Boarded the plane at 7.10 (5.10 uk), and got a nice isle cheat without anyone sitting in the middle, only a weird bloke at the window seat frantically writing in his notebook. Plane took off in time at 7.35 (5.35 uk) and I settled back with my magazine.
After some time in the air my ears started popping every ten seconds and it was starting to get really annoying. It was obvious that the plane was gaining and losing altitude all the time, going up and down again, up and and down again. Then the weird screeching noises started. Tried to ignore these as well as I could. After an hour in the air the captain came on and announced that they had a problem. The landing gear light was indicating the it wasn’t going up properly and we would be returning to Helsinki. Lots of silent ‘Oh shit’s could be seen on people’s faces. So we flew back to Helsinki, and in the half an hour leading up to the imminent landing the captain came on 5 times saying how everything was ‘very likely to go well’ and how he was ‘fairly sure the landing will be normal’. Which was nice of him. Two hours after taking off we finally landed, ‘fairly normally’ and the captain informed us that an engineer will be coming to fix the problem. At this point the plane was full of very anxious people wanting to inform someone they wouldn’t be making it to work/meeting/other appointments in time, but we were told not to use our mobiles as they were refuling the plane. At least we could watch business glass being served water and other refreshments, to make the time pass. I of course could feel smug as I had my own water bottle. The weird bloke at the window seat demanded to see the Captain as he was on a ‘goverment project’ and needed to be somewhere unpronouncable the following evening. 45 minutes later the water service was extended to everyone. At 11 (9 uk) the captain came back on to inform us the plane was un-serviceable, and we were to get off and would be booked on other flights.
So off we got and on to a queue which led to a nice woman informing me the next flight I could get on would leave at 13.50 (11.50 uk). After a bit of umming and ahhing if I should just go back home to sleep, I said yes, and got booked on that flight. I also got a food voucher for €13! Lucky me. Two hours of waiting followed.
My next flight was fully booked (gee, I wonder why) and the boarding finally started at 13.55 (11.55 uk), when the plane technically should have been in the air already. I got squeezed in with a couple, who were bickering all flight. And what a flight it was. The turbulance was so bad the had to stop serving lunch (a chicken roll to you) twice as none of the staff could walk without bumping into people. Somehow I managed to get through three of the most uncomfortable hours of my life (through the power of Cosmo), but what came next could put a person off flying for good. Remember when I mentioned the turbulance. Well, turbulance isn’t *that* scary when you’re up the in the air, just annoying. But when you’re landing, it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m not one to usually get scared whilst flying, but looking at the ground getting closer while the plane still seemed to be completely out of control, jerking from side to side, is something that made even me possibly let slip a few silent prayers. And the actual landing. One wheel hit the ground, plane bounced back on the other side, other wheel hit the ground, plane bounced back on the other side. Whilst going 400km/h (or how ever fast planes go, I dunno, pretty fast tho). It was probably more like 5 seconds but it felt like a lifetime until all the wheels were on the ground and they could actually start breaking. I felt like puking. It was the most horrible experience ever. When I wobbled off the plane it was 17.20 (15.20 uk), which incidentally was exactly 12 hours after I woke up. Then miles and miles of walking and queueing to the passport control later, I was out of arrivals at 18.00 (16.00 uk). Two hours on heathrow express/tube/train later I got to Rayleigh. On a positive note, I didn’t have to go to work all day. Mind you, this might have been the only occation I would have preferred to…
I fell asleep at 21.30 (uk time as I was here now – 23.30 in finland, 18 hours after leaving) and slept like a log.