False travelling economies

Today’s trip to Algiers has to be the most miserable journey I’ve had to undertake when working at Sun.

I had the choice of two carriers and chose the one I thought would be more convenient – nicer arrival time back on Thursday, fewer stopovers, cheaper for Sun, etc.

I got to the airport at midnight, only to be told that the plane would be late. I was given varying information on how late it would be, so decided to stay at the airport, rather than go home to sleep for a bit. In the end, after a nightmare checkin and boarding, we left at 0800, five hours late. Thankfully, the gentleman from the airline managing the checkin process took pity on a poor Englishman and bumped me up to Business Class. This made a world of difference, the principal advantage being that I was able to sleep and I had the use of a toilet on the plane that wasn’t awash with water and still had some toilet paper. And a working toilet seat.

On the plus side, the passenger mix was one I’m not used to at all, so I got to see some new faces. A lot of the passengers were en route to Niger and other countries in French speaking Africa. One African chap was wearing what I, in my general ignorance, would describe as a wraparound, Touareg style, headdress. The picture here doesn’t really do it justice, but it was this kind of thing. It looked quite cool.

Passport control was rather slow, but I did have a good chat with the immigration officer about which languages people learn at school in Algeria and the UK whilst he tidied up my bad handwriting on the immigration form. Apologies to the people behind me in the queue. I promise to fill the form in more clearly next time if you promise not to smoke and spit phlegm on the floor next to my luggage.

When I arrived at my hotel, there was no booking for me, but I managed to get a room.

I’m going to ask my travel agent if I can be booked on a business class seat when flying back. I generally don’t mind slumming it and economy is usually fine for most of the routes I do, but this one was really rather tough. Once everyone’s seated things tend to be ok, but getting to that stage can somewhat trying.

I’m hoping that I’ll be home to Mrs Saul on time on Friday morning.

If I come back with a successful meeting in the bag and a smiling customer and partner, that’ll make it all the more worth it. Let’s see.


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