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Florida Guide > Travelling

What a trip this was! Part 3

We have arrived at Gatwick Airport en route for Orlando via Gander in Newfoundland. It has been a tortuous time so far, and things are not looking good.

The monitors tell us that our flight is delayed, but its only for an hour, so we aren’t bothered. The check in girl doesn’t seem to know the reason for the delay, so we go and get our breakfast before checking the board again. She suggests we go to the information desk when we have gone through security. We decide to go through straight to security and once in the departure lounge we begin to get the feeling that things are not quite right, as the information desk is crowded with seemingly irate passengers from our flight. They are demanding to know why the flight is delayed and when we are likely to be leaving.

The desk is manned by two flustered ladies who do their best to fend of enqiries, and it is obvious that they know about as much as we do. They don’t work directly for ATA, but are just the service agents. There are several stories being bandied around – our ‘plane has ‘technical problems, ’ it has been grounded, another ‘plane is being turned around but it is half-way across the Atlantic, no, its landing at Shannon in Ireland and it will be in the air imminently. None of this is true, but some of it is partly true – trouble is, neither they, nor us, know which is which. Our new departure time is 5. 15pm and they give us vouchers for lunch - £40 between the four of us. We can’t complain, and so my daughter and I go and search out the options before finally deciding on a meal at a pleasant restaurant. We spend the lot!

Pleasantly replete we return to the waiting area, and by this time we can see dozens of people who are travelling on our flight – families with young children, grizzling babies, and someone who is travelling out to their villa and who has used ATA before – and who has experienced a 24 hour delay with them. At this stage, such a delay seems unthinkable, but little did we know.

Throughout the afternoon we make numerous journeys across to the information desk, which looks more and more like the Lack of Information Desk! All enquiries are fobbed off by the two ladies working for the agency which deals with ATA. They try to keep calm but the plumper of the two gets progressively more and more hot under the collar as she struggles to reassure the increasingly belligerent passengers who are lined up at the desk. The other lady is managing to keep her cool, and with barely a flicker across her face she urges us all to go away and come back later as she can tell us no more.

Demands that a supervisor should come down and talk to us immediately are met with steely resistance – they will be down but not until 6. 00 pm. Well at least we now know that our flight cannot possibly leave at 5. 30!

All we can do is sit it out and hope that he will have some good news for us.

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Page added on: 15 July 2011
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