Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011 – Venice, Italy – Clear, Sunny – 60s

Disembarkation Day

We had a very early breakfast in the Windows Cafe so we can be ready for our 8:45 PM Ship-run shuttle to the Airport (unaffected by the strike).  Checking out, we ran into Tony, who gave me some positive feedback on my lectures.  He also confirmed that many of the passengers do watch the enrichment talks on their cabin TVs.

Marco Polo Airport is a small airport about 40 minutes from the port.  On the way, I do see some busses so I am wondering how extensive the General Strike really is.  We arrived at the airport around 10:00 AM.  There are only two counters for British Airways at Marco Polo and there is no one manning them when we arrive.

Checking the Arrivals and Departures Screens, we do get the bad news that our flight – BA579 – has been delayed to 4:00 PM from the scheduled 12:45 PM departure time.  This would mean that we would miss our connection at LHR. We are checked in – on line yesterday – so we get in line and wait for the agents to show up and go over our options.

 Marco Polo Airport (Small)

The Shops at Marco Polo Airport

The agents showed about two hours prior to the original departure time.  They checked our luggage through to Chicago but had little information on connecting flights (I don’t think they were real BA agents but locals manning the counters).  We resigned ourselves to the delay (many other flights were outright cancelled) and headed over to the gate for a long wait.

Waiting at Marco Polo (Small)

Hunkering Down at Marco Polo Airport

On the bright side, my adaptor obtained in Piraeus worked in the plugs at the airport (we did find one within reach of seats).  Computers and Kindles were available. 

Around noon, we had lunch (lox and cream cheese sandwiches and pastries) thanks to the ship.  At least we won’t starve.  There are several folks from the cruise in the lounge also stuck in the same situation.

Ellen decided to walk around the airport – at about 1:00 PM she came running back.  She had seen our flight number flashing on the big screens (I had just looked at our local smaller screen and not seen anything and there was no announcement).  I tossed everything in my bag and we hurried to get in line at our gate.

It was true – for some reason, BA579 was indeed boarding.  Boarding went as quickly as possible but then just as I thought we were going to push, the Captain announced that three passengers, whose bags were already on the plane, were not on the aircraft.  It was now about 1:15 PM. Would we miss our window for connecting in London?

About 15 minutes later, two of the missing passengers arrived.  After about 5 more minutes, the Captain said that the luggage belonging to the missing final passenger would be removed from the plane – I could hear them looking for the bags in the hold.  The plane finally shut its door about 1:45 PM and pushed.  We would be an hour late leaving.

The flight to London was smooth (a little less than two hours).

BA579 arriving at LHR (Small)

Deplaning in London

We got off the plan using a gangway instead of a jet way.  From there a bus took us to the Terminal (Terminal 5).  At least we didn’t have to go to another terminal for our flight.

At this point we had about a hour to get to our gate and board our flight.  It turns out that our gate – C63 - was not in the main terminal building so we took the train to the gate.  We got there just about the time we were boarding.  BA had free Wi-Fi in its lounge so I shot off a quick e-mail that we would be on our original flight and it was leaving on time.

BA279 Ready to go (Small)

BA297 Read to Take Us Home

This BA 777 was configured 3X3 in coach (we had adjacent aisles) and the legroom was minimal.  Eventually, the passenger in the middle seat next to me found another seat so I had a spot for my elbow.  The flight was just under 8 hours long but it did seem a bit longer due to all of the hassle of the day.  I did have a chance to see parts of “Rise of the Planet of Apes”, “Captain America”, and “The Green Lantern” again.  BA has a lot of movie options.

We did have a very nice Kosher Meal (Shepherds Pie) on this flight.  The flight attendant initially told me that the Kosher meal was not mine but belonged to the passenger in the window seat.  After some discussion, I told the attendant to simply ask the passenger.  The Asian man did not even know what a Kosher meal was.  After apologies from the flight attendant, I got my meal.

We had a second meal (humus and grilled veggies) near the end of the flight.  Also, I finally, after all of this time, figured out that all drinks, including alcoholic ones, are free on BA.  This resulted in a Bloody Mary and some white wine being consumed. I will use this information in the future.

We arrived on time – a relatively smooth flight.  The BA cabin seemed more stuffy that other flights we have been on – this probably also made the flight seem longer.

It didn’t matter – not missing our connection – a smooth flight – our bags arriving – passing through immigration fast – passing through agricultural screening successfully – and our ride waiting for us – all added up to a positive outcome.

The General Strike didn’t get us after all.

Consensus: A great cruise

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