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Florida Guide > Travelling

What a trip this was! Part 4

Our first trip to Orlando has been going steadily downhill – and we haven’t even left Gatwick!

Our flight has been delayed, and its scheduled departure of 12. 30 haS been put back several times. We have been fobbed off for hours with snippets of information, most of which are later revealed to be only partly true. At one stage we are told that the aeroplane has landed at Shannon, but we are not told why – could it be another technical problem? The ladies tell us that, apparently, the ‘plane has left Shannon and is in the air. In fact, we are told several times that the ‘plane is due to land at Gatwick within the hour, but all this emerges as pure fantasy, as the technical problems encountered when the ‘plane lands at Shannon are, in fact, insurmountable.

Despite repeated requests from a growing crowd of agitated passengers the supervisor refuses to come down until the appointed time. At around six o’clock a stocky man chewing gum appears with a wodge of papers – this must be the supervisor! His arrival is met with relief and a certain amount of optimism, but he is rude and uncommunicative. He throws us all a letter and says ‘READ THAT! ’ before beating a hasty retreat.

It tells us what most of us have already guessed. Our flight will not leave today, and it will be tomorrow at the earliest. But the good news is that we are going to be put up in a hotel overnight, and tomorrow our flight will leave, hopefully, 24 hours late. The reason for the delay is complex. Our first ‘plane had engine trouble and had to be grounded. A second ‘plane was turned around in mid-Atlantic and ran out of fuel, necessitating a refuelling stop at Shannon in Ireland. Unfortunately, an inspection revealed that one of the fire extinguishers on an engine is depleted and must be replaced before it can get clearance to take off again. However, this apparently highly dangerous cylinder of gas must be transported on a cargo ‘plane, not a passenger ‘plane, and being a Bank Holiday weekend there are few available.

We collect our luggage and make our way to Terminal 2 to the Le Meridien Hotel. We are relieved and pleased to be going to stay overnight at such a luxurious hotel – we had visions of camping in the airport! All around us people are complaining. We leave them to it and nip down to reclaim our luggage before making haste to the hotel.

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Page added on: 15 July 2011
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