The One Where We Spend 17 Hours in an Airport


I’m pretty sure no one will be reading this today, because you’ll all be off roasting chestnuts around an open fire, or doing whatever else it is winter-lovers do two days before Christmas, but let the record show that Terry and I have returned safely from what turned out to be a fabulously relaxing holiday in the Canaries, with actual sun, and heat and everything. I, of course, fearing a repeat of last year’s winter vacation, where it was so cold I had to buy almost all of Zara’s stock over there, had come prepared, with lots of sweaters, coats, boots, etc, so naturally the weather was fantastic, and I looked like a (very stripey) Nanook of the North most of the time. I DID still buy my fair share of stuff at Zara, though. Well, it’s become a tradition…

Let the record also show, however, that although we are back, this has not been achieved without some degree of trouble, namely a 17-hour delay at Las Palmas airport, due to the huge amount of snow back home, which had closed down Gatwick airport, and left our plane stranded there helplessly, poor thing. I had planned to write one of my usual long, rambly posts about this experience*, but now that I actually sit down to do it, I find it can be summed up pretty accurately with the words “Man, that sucked.”

Grumpy. Also strangely shiny. And stripey, obv. Like my own version of the 7 dwarves, basically.

Grumpy. Also strangely shiny. And stripey, obv. Like my own version of the 7 dwarves, basically.

This was taken at about 3am, and we’d arrived at the airport at 11am the previous day, so please excuse my appearance, and just be grateful you weren’t sitting next to me, because although I could’ve bought a selection of clothes from Calvin Klein and Burberry (Don’t worry, I didn’t. Don’t think I didn’t consider it, though.) there was nowhere selling basic stuff like toothpaste or deodorant, and because I was expecting a 4-hour flight, I hadn’t put any in my hand luggage. Yes, I have learned that lesson now, having been forced to make liberal use of the Fragile perfume tester in the duty free.



As you’ll have gathered from the lack of “OMG, I AM TRAPPED IN AN AIRPORT FOR 17 HOURS!” posts here over the past couple of days, we couldn’t actually use that laptop: there was wi-fi available, but it cost 10 euros (about $14) for a day pass, and although I did reach a stage where that started to seem like a good deal to me, if only so I could whine incessantly on Twitter about my “ordeal”, the sign-up page was in Spanish, Google translate didn’t seem to work on it, and although we did manage to get some of the way through the sign-up process, we were finally defeated by the apparent requirement that we provide a Spanish mobile phone number before we be granted access to the Internet. There were none of those computer terminals where you can put in coins and get a few minutes’ access. I don’t think I’ve ever been in an airport in my life that didn’t have those, so it figured that the first airport I should come across without easy internet access would be the one I was spending 17 hours in. Gah. You should all probably be thankful about this, though, otherwise this post would be longer than it is already, and would be in approximately 1,752 parts all of which would read something like, “Aaaargh! Am STILL stuck in airport! Woe! Woe! First world problems!”

Anyway, we finally got onto the plane and went to find our seats. We’d been the first people to check into the flight (our boarding cards were numbers 1 and 2, to prove this), so we were confident we’d at least have reasonably good seats. Where do you think the first two seats allocated on a flight would be, readers? Did you guess “Slap in the middle of the aircraft, and separated by an aisle, even although you’d specifically requested that this NOT happen?” Because if so, you win the house cup! We were separated by an aisle, and although this may not seem like a big deal to most of you, when you’re as frightened of flying as I am, and need to not only hold your husband’s hand, but also to burrow into his side during take-off, landing, and at regular intervals during the flight, it kind of IS a big deal. I doubt the two elderly ladies sitting next to me would’ve enjoyed having to deal with my in-flight histrionics much, either. (Not that Terry DOES enjoy it, obviously, but, you know, that’s what my parents pay him for.) And we thought our LAST travel ordeal was bad!

Luckily for everyone, the flight crew managed to find us two seats together. Actually, they managed to find us THREE empty seats together, and they managed to do this because there were LOTS AND LOTS OF EMPTY SEATS. TOGETHER. Why they’d tried to seat us apart, then, is anyone’s guess, and by that stage we were too tired to care. We were grateful to have the extra seat to spread out in, though, especially given that this was how much legroom we had:

Legroom, lack thereof

Legroom, lack thereof

No room to swing a cat. Which was a shame, because we enjoy swinging cats:

Cat swinging

Cat swinging

(These guys lived at our apartment complex with their five brothers and sisters. I would’ve brought them all home with me, and thus started my career as a Crazy Cat Lady (I know it’ll happen one day, so why not now?) if I possibly could have, but Terry wouldn’t let me. Gah.

Anyway. We made it home. And then, as we pulled into our street? We drove straight into a huge pile o’snow and got stuck in it for 30 minutes, finally being freed only when a neighbour (NOT Nigel) arrived to help us push/dig the car out. And THIS, my friends, is why I don’t like winter. And why every time I hear someone say “Ooh, I hope we have a white Christmas!” I want to drop to my knees and say, “Are you on crack? Please don’t wish more snow upon us, it traps us inside airports, and makes us worry that we’re going to miss Christmas altogether because if it.” Which could still happen, of course: today we’re more or less snowed in, and not planning to budge until tomorrow, when we’ll be driving to my parents’ house for Christmas. Or at least, we HOPE we are.

Needless to say, I have lots and lots of holiday stories, and even more photos, to share, but those will have to wait until after Christmas. For now, I hope you all have a good one, however you’re spending it – hopefully not in an airport!

* Um, looks like I DID write one of those long, rambly posts after all. Sorry. Happy Christmas!

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

books by Amber Eve
  • You'll be happy to know that not all of us are off roasting the nuts of others. I have much glad that you have at least returned safe and sound although that long at an airport would make me give death to many other travellers.

    Hopefully the pup's extended vacation will also come to an end soon
    .-= LizSara´s last blog ..#best09 december 20th21st22nd23rd =-.

    December 23, 2009
  • Stacey


    I was once stuck in Chicago's O'Hare airport for 22 hours because of a thunderstorm going through. The ticket agents were not helpful and wouldn't tell us if our flight had been canceled or not, and when it was finally announced it was canceled, wouldn't tell us when new flights were available. I was flying with my parents and 10 year old nephew, my nephew's asthma medicine was already on a plane flying who knows where, we were all tired and angry and then found out the airlines had already run out of hotel vouchers so we spent the night on the floor.

    To top it all off, I slipped and sprained my ankle in the middle of the airport, so I had to spend the rest of the over night stay in a wheelchair with my nephew laughing at me going "Aunt Stacey's OLD!!" It was a miserable experience, I have a picture of me that's similar to the one of you where I just look tired, angry, puffy, and for some reason shiny.

    Glad you had a good vacation though, Merry Christmas!

    December 23, 2009
  • Ahhhh… Las Palmas Aeropuerto… ah ken it well. The delays we usually experience there tend to be of the check-in variety. Jeez-oh 17 hours!!!???

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Maspalomas. The restaurants and shops down near the lighthouse are fab, but the Faro 2 has gone right off the boil in recent times.

    December 23, 2009
  • Look at that, there's another reader here. I can't imagine spending seventeen hours in an airport terminal – I'm usually ready to kill myself after two. Hopefully that didn't ruin you're whole trip! Happy holidays!

    December 23, 2009
  • Krista


    Some of us (or maybe just me) are stuck in the middle of nowhere (at the parents), with absolutely nothing to do except wrapping christmas presents (I'll do that tomorrow) so a rescue in this situation is the internet, and so here is a reader ready to comment :).

    Glad you got some sunshine and had a nice vacation. I can't even remember what sun feels like on my face, it's so dark here all the time. But because of the never ending night I actually like snow, it gives the illusion of some light. And it looks so beautiful outside with all the snow. So enjoy the wintery scenery.

    Merry Christmas:)

    December 23, 2009
  • Carys


    Is it really sad that i've been dying for you to come back from holiday?

    And now you are back, you're taking a break for christmas! ><

    Welcome back anyways and have a good week! 😀 x

    December 23, 2009
  • What do you mean, no readers?

    Happy christmas to you and Terry and Rubin, and you can always come to Australia for Christmas one year if you want to know what it's like to have your face melt off on Christmas Day…
    .-= Tracey´s last blog ..Deck the goddamn halls =-.

    December 23, 2009
  • Rock Hyrax


    Oh dear, I was wondering if you'd get caught in the backlog. And the "how to keep smelling nice" challenge must be pretty difficult these days, with the limits on the sort of stuff you can take on a plane as hand luggage.

    Only other question is: what are the eBay traders going to use your grumpy face to advertise..?

    December 24, 2009
  • You totally live in the wrong country my dear – we are relaxing after our Christmas lunch in 25 degrees! I've never done a winter Christmas, and I don't think I ever want to! Glad you arrived home safe – have a wonderful (albeit cold!) Christmas, and I look forward next year's Continuing Adventures of Amber – your posts are the highlight of my day!
    .-= Selina´s last blog ..Your daily dose of pretty: MiroMiro jewellery by Boh Runga. Oh and Christmas wishes! =-.

    December 25, 2009
  • Asia


    Awww, well that sucks. D:
    I can't relate to the airport thing (airplanes scare me…along with any flying object, really), but I've been stuck in the middle of nowhere, on the highway, for more than ten hours in the freezing cold. My ipod was dead, my mom's cell phone was dead, we were starving, and my dad was four hours away. BUT WE SURVIVED. 😀
    ….You probably didn't even want to read that, right? Sorry. But it's nice to know you survived. xD

    December 25, 2009
  • Oh my gosh, nightmare journey by the sound of things, but glad you're home safe and sound! T'internet has been much too quiet without you, but I know you were in dire need of a holiday so am glad it sounds like you had a relaxing time until the epic quest to get home! Jx

    December 26, 2009
  • I think the only people who want a white Christmas are people who don't live in areas where it snows. We had rain on Christmas in Chicago (which is sucky as well, but much better than snow) and then Mother Nature decided to drop a foot of snow on us on Saturday. FUN!

    I am glad you had a great holiday and hope you had a wonderful Christmas, since I'm reading this like 5 days later because I'm at work and there is NOTHING going on.
    .-= Kristabella´s last blog ..Christmustache Hangover =-.

    December 28, 2009
  • robyn


    Ah! Terry is reading Into Thin Air! I love that book.

    I'm guessing you guys got lucky enough to miss all the extra airplane drama with the christmas day bomber man. That would have been even more waiting, I'm sure. Also, I agree with the snow. We just got two feet last night out of nowhere. And our heater has decided to kill itself just now, of course. Gah.

    December 31, 2009
  • nice to see some new posts!!! 🙂

    January 10, 2010