Air France. Why?

Those of you who followed my Facebook over the last week or so will have an idea about the trials and tribulations recently experienced due to Air France, but in the interests of giving me somewhere public to vent my frustration all over again, I’m going to relive the incomprehensible levels of ineptitude again.

So, I went to Genoa. I went to Genoa on business. I went to Genoa for a project meeting; the project being an EU project based around cemetery symbology, cultural heritage, printmaking, performance art, music and digital applications – all with the aim of engagement with youth and both visually and hearing impaired groups. Now I am sure some of you will have already lost sympathy for me, but hold on…

I did try and avoid Air France, boy did I try and avoid them! I begged the lady booking the travel to find another carrier but alas there we no others available with the days/times we needed. As the confirmation came through, a shiver of despair shot down my spine.

Knowing I was flying AF, I decided to pack a change of clothes in my carry-on just in case. This turned out to be a good call as our outgoing flight was delayed due to the AF crew not having enough rest (which is fair enough I guess) which lead to a tight connection at Charles de Gaulle (worst. airport. ever) turning into a near impossible connection. However, after getting off the flight from Edinburgh quickly, I found myself on a bus that drove and drove and drove to the terminal. I swear we must have landed in bloody Belgium such was the distance we travelled. On arriving at the terminal I took one step inside, turned right for Flight Connections and walked another 3 yards, went through a single security detector which took up another 3 yards and turned left to wait for another bus. Seriously. But that isn’t all. No. This is CDG remember. The bus arrived and TOOK ME ALL THE WAY BACK TO WHERE I CAME FROM!!! We managed to catch our flight which was incidentally, on the aircraft NEXT to the one we arrived on, with seconds to spare and with joy in our hearts at not having an 8 hour wait at CDG until the next flight, we sat down and enjoyed the flight.

Arrival at Genoa was smooth. Even better in a strange way was the email I received from AF during the flight stating my bag hadn’t made it. At least I didn’t have to wait for the last bag to be unloaded to realise mine was missing so I headed to the lost baggage desk to have a strained and difficult conversation with a helpful lady who didn’t speak much English (although she spoke more English than I spoke Italian so the language barrier was wholly my fault for being useless at languages. If only I had listened more clearly to Miss Addey at school, rather than lusting over her! Eventually we agreed that my bag would arrive on the later flight that evening although I was then informed that the courier doesn’t work nights. Thank god for the clean pants in my carry on!

My case eventually arrived late the next day and all was well. Until the return journey.

We arrived back at Genoa airport in good time for our return flight to Paris but then heard that fateful bing-bong following by a stretch of Italian which I obviously didn’t understand. The groans and disconsolate looks of my literate fellow passengers told the story though – the incoming aircraft had been diverted to Nice due to a thunderstorm in Genoa. Annoying because as we were being told this, other flights were happily landing in the rain. And so came Air France to the rescue – with silence. Nothing happened for at least an hour until we were told we were being bussed to Nice to catch the flight onto Paris. Outside we went to queue up at the small info desk to arrange new connections, all the whilst we were being told by the staff that the bus was going to be leaving shortly.

Outside, bags in hand – no bus. FFS!

Then a mini-bus appeared. There were 60 of us. FFS!

After an age, a proper coach arrived complete with the grumpiest fucker of an Italian driver. Every case he had to put into the hold was greeted with a sigh, a rolling of the eyes and a (probable) expletive. Eventually we were on the road for the 2-3 hour drive to Nice. Fortunately I was sat next to an emotional Italian chap who spent the journey talking to himself. As we passed through the French/Italian border he pulled over, jumped outside and went for a smoke. Later we hit a French toll booth and his remote charging thing didn’t work which led to a funny five minutes of him screaming TELEPASS to the intercom louder and louder. After nearly three hours of this comedic journey, we arrived at Nice and were helped through the terminal to the plane.

Where we waited.

And waited.

And you know what, I have no fucking idea why we were waiting for so long.

We waited so long we missed our revised connection at Paris – as did everyone else. Muppets.

In Air France’s favour was the reasonably easy way they sorted us all out with accomodation and meals for our unscheduled overnight stay. However when we reached the Campanile it was full and we were pushed to the next hotel (although we still had to go back to the Campanile to eat).

27 hours after we left our hotel in Genoa, we arrived home following an uneventful return from Paris.

Air France – please, never again!

Photo by Jonathan Gross

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