Getting from Sydney to Malaga takes a while, so the last thing you want is delays. But I had delays aplenty on the 40+ hour journey between those two places, most of them caused by mechanical problems on aircraft.
Getting between Sydney and Singapore was no problem. The trouble started when we got back on the plane. Sitting a few rows in front of me in Premium Economy (win!) is a guy who, to put it charitably, has had way too much to drink. A decision has been made to remove him, and after bringing in a few burly-looking security guard types, he agrees to leave. A good idea — you don’t want a sloshed vomit fountain sloshing around the cabin on a 13-hour journey. But that means a good 30 minutes of delay while we wait for his luggage to be removed as well. (Memo: if you want to get smashed before boarding a plane, please travel only with hand luggage.)
That’s done and we pull back and try not to sleep through the safety announcement, but we haven’t even left the ground when another problem is detected. One of the windscreen wipers isn’t working. We have to return to the gate and get it fixed. At least we’re in Singapore, a true 24-hour airport, but that still means we ultimately take off two hours later than scheduled.
It is events like this that make me glad I schedule flights in a paranoid way. I originally had a seven-hour gap between landing at London Heathrow and flying out of London Gatwick (pretty much unavoidable if you want to get to Malaga). Even with two hours delay, I have oodles of time, and I’m at Gatwick via a National Express Coach with room to spare. Our flight is put back 10 minutes because of late incoming aircraft, and the BA First lounge is pretty ordinary and lacking in power outlets, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
We take off, cross the channel, and then hear some very suspect noises from the landing gear. In due course, the captain comes on and announces, rather long-windedly, that because the indicators to check if the landing gear works aren’t giving readings, we need to return to Gatwick to avoid the risk of leaving a hard-to-service aircraft in Spain. We’re turning around, but will need to fly for 20 minutes or so to burn off fuel. Great.
We land, and after initially telling us we’ll disembark while they work out what to do, BA decides to shift us all into a plane being bought into the next gate. We can’t get off until we’re ready to move to that plane, and even our route between the gates has to be approved by airport administration. All that results in us eventually arriving in Malaga three hours behind schedule, and means I don’t actually hit my hotel room until 10pm.
These annoyances go with air travel. I’m not that bothered really, and unlike previous occasions, there’s been plenty of communication on what went wrong. But I feel sorry for the people who have to sit next to my sweaty body on the plane.
Anyway, now I’m here, soaking up the glories of the Kempinski Hotel Bahia Estepona — the kind of place I only ever stay in when someone else in is footing the bill. The picture above shows the view from my room (I’ll take better pics with the good camera tomorrow). The grey area is actually where the sea is, but there’s so much mist you can’t see it. That doesn’t mean it is cold and unpleasant, quite the opposite. This might be the trip where I actually get to swim in a European ocean, rather than just looking at them. It’s about time.