Gate B

On Thursday, we packed out bags and embarked upon a weekend trip to Ireland. We were excited, as much for the airport Burger King as for the trip itself. We arrived – as suggested by a company whose name rhymes with CryinMare – 3 hours early. This was no problem since that gave us plenty of time to enjoy the aforementioned BK treat. But it did promise a long day.

Our flight time was 15:15, which got us into Dublin at 16:40, which in turn gave us lots of time to meet our friend and to enjoy many Guinness and whiskeys before they gave last call at 11:30. This, naturally, was not to be.

You have no doubt flown and understand the sequence of information one wants and one doesn’t want as regards to your flight. You get in the airport, you check-in, you expect to get a gate and you expect to get calls to go to gate and to board. On a bad date, you find out your plane is late and this puts a crink in any travel day.

As we walked through Duty Free, we noticed that next to the word Dublin was only Gate B. So we went to Gate B. With lots of time to kill, we slept a little, read, deeply considered buying a bag of M&Ms that would feed Guam. I walked around, and cast occasional glances at the pub. But something dawned on me at about 14:45 – we were still only Gate B. No number, no late notification, nothing. Just Gate B.

We felt as if we were lost at the end of the world. This is because the lack of information enhanced an already eerie atmosphere at the airport. These days the airports are slender on staff and as a result they are a shell of their former selves. Shops are gated off, cafes shut down, their chairs stacked on tables. The vending machines are dilapidated, the check-in desks are almost nearly all dark and quiet. It’s as close to the post apocalypse as you might get without actual zombies running around. So not only did we not have a gate number, there was nobody at all to ask. Information desks were empty.

At 15:10, in a state of desperation, I approached a janitor, but he ran away pretty quickly. I think he sensed he was about to be pressed to conversation and as he’s probably the last of his kind at the airport, he scares easily now.

Our flight time came and went. 15:15.15:20.15:25. We found two or three other lost souls looking for the flight to Dublin. At least we weren’t alone. Nobody had any information. We had two questions. What’s our Gate? and Where’s everyone else? We huddled together in a band of strays.  

Finally, on a different board in another part of the airport I saw a number B15. Now, if we had missed out flight because of this sort of blip, you would know already because I would have been on the news on Thursday and one of you would have posted bail for me on Friday. But alas, this was not the case.

“Two hour delay,” a man finally said.

“Fine.” We broke and went for a beer.

It was a beer I did not enjoy.   

When we finally reached B15 it was like a refugee camp. Those who had found B15 had since then been locked there (security is at the gates in terminal 1 in Prague Airport, so once you get in you can’t get out). They looked as harried as we felt. They knew each other, a broad conversation had started a while back and the interlocutors seemed like old friends. The two CryinMare employees still employed at the airport looked frayed at the edges, there was no doubt they’d been getting the questions we had been wanting to ask.

An airplane arrived and we walked out to it. The pilot apologized for the lateness, but was unable – or unwilling – to tell us the reason for the lateness. Ah well, at least we got on a plane. Oh and we had the BK.  

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