Returning from Vilnius should have been as uneventful as getting there. The fact that there is a post on the return trip indicates that it wasn’t. On Friday we ran to the airport from the meeting venue as a number of people had a reasonably early flight in the afternoon. Vilnius, as lovely as it is, does not have a huge number of connections within Europe and many people have to fly there using a stopover. Unusually I needed a stopover too (Amsterdam is very well connected). I had to fly to Frankfurt before I could fly to Amsterdam.
By the time we were at the airport, slightly stressed and in line for security we heard that we would have a delay. Not a slight one either, it would be nigh on an hour. So much for the hurry. Turns out there was a combination of bad weather and protest. The first meant that one of the runways had been closed causing a plane-traffic-jam at the airport over the remaining runways. It happens. The other one caused part of the airport to be closed off and gate changes for many planes. The end result then is chaos.
Our plane had been delayed leaving Frankfurt so was late at Vilnius and could not leave on time. We just made the best of it. Gently poking fun at the german grundlichkeit with our German co-workers and just taking it in. A group of French passengers clearly was not as laid back about it and our French co-worker gave a (hilarious) running commentary of the complaints within that group.
At one stage you could see the add ons to a flight arriving. You know the trolley for suitcases, the food, the fuel and even the crew All that was missing was the plane. Then finally the plane arrived, It of course needed to have all passengers leave, cleaned and fuelled but then we were allowed on board. As we had missed our slot we had to wait for the first one available so we really left quite late. During taxi there is always the safety routine and this time the purser doing the talking cracked up when one of the stewardesses got stuck in the elastic of the oxygen mask. We could all hear him laughing out loud and he had to start again, with the whole crew red faced from the laughter. It was the first time in ages I took notice as it was just so funny to see them doing the routine barely holding their laughs. At the end he exclaimed; “Glad I got that done without cracking up again” and the whole plane gave him a round of applause as we too had had a fun.
The flight itself was uneventful and we landed in Frankfurt an hour late as expected. My connecting flight showed as on time, which meant we had 20 minutes to get there. So we shouted our goodbyes to our co-workers on the way to their different connecting flights and took off to our gate. Once there we noticed a delay of an hour there too. No need to have rushed. So we installed ourselves with a coffee and a good read, only to be told about a gate change. By now we knew what problems they were coping with at the airport so we just sighed and walked to the new gate.
Once there we re-installed ourselves until it was time to leave. Frankfurt airport is a sophisticated airport It has scan in with little doors that let you through once the scan has registered A wonderful tool to ensure all passengers are on board and automate entry. That is….if it works. You guessed it, it did not work. Two people frantically tried to resuscitate the computer system and download our data so we could get on our plane which was waiting at the gate. After desperately trying for half an hour they took a different approach. Not as expected the old fashioned paper trail but they started manually reentering all passengers into the system, which then resulted in a different seating arrangement and issued new boarding passes. One by one we could enter the plane through the gates. As you can imagine this was a slow slow process but it got things underway as long es everybody did what they were told and shown. Of course there is always one.
One that dicides not want to wait, listen or watch and just does whatever suits them Regardless of the consequences. We had one too. I was already in the plane when no new passengers arrived and I was still missing my co-worker. As it turns out two people decided to go through the gate together on one boarding pass. The managed but they had not counted on security . In the gateway there is a sort of cage with automated doors connected to the front gates. The cage slammed shut because of the anomaly recorded (somebody unauthorized is trying to get on the plane) trapping a number of passengers in the cage and in front of it. The people that triggered the security were taken away and all passengers were released and entered the plane again.
We left Frankfurt two hours late (from original take off time) because of the issues with the check in system. By that stage my patience was really stretched to the limit and I could not find any fun in it anymore All I wanted was to go home, to SO. About an hour later we finally arrived at the airport. So was waiting for me there and I could finally fully collapse.
Edited to add: I stopped whinging about my trip. One of my coworkers had his connecting flight completely cancelled at the last minute (just before boarding). No other flight until the next day. He managed to get his suitcase back and to jump on the last high speed train home. He arrived home around 3am. Right!…… My hometrip was a walk in the park compared to that.