Well, I thought we were going home
Zakynthos Travel Blog› entry 9 of 10 › view all entries
The plane was sitting on the ground and all the passengers were through to departures when it all went awry. There were 2 flight due to depart to Glasgow at the same time 05-55, and when the one that had landed later got called to the gate first I began to have the feeling that things were not right.
Sure enough just after the other one had taken off at 06-20 ,an airport manager came out and bellowed to get everyones attention. The plane was to be delayed,and it would be a minium of 11 hours. Apparently the plane needed a part and it would have to be flown in from the UK, along with an engineer to fit it. The next flight in was from East Midlands and it would not arrive until 13-25, by which time the flight crew would be over their allowed flying time and required a rest period.
In fairness it was all handled very well, and the guy, Mike Taylor of Zante Aviation Services, kept everyone informed. Nothing worse than being delayed when you don't know what is happening. He informed us that they were looking for hotels to put us up,the buses had been recalled and that we would get our luggage back. Even the detail of anyone who had bought stuff from the duty free was handled,with people invited to take there stuff over to a storage point where they were issued with a receipt for it.
Half an hour later he came back to us to say the hotels were sorted,and read out a list of family groups thathad to go to one particular hotel as it was the only one in the main town that had family rooms. He apologised for the fact that they couldn't organise breakfast at such short notice,but had arranged with the snack bar in the departure lounge for everyone to be able to get a sandwich and a drink before they left the airport.
We were then out to pick up our bags from the arrivals hall,deja vu :-D, and were soon on the buses for the 10 minute transfer to the hotel. Obviously there was going to be a bit of pandamonium trying to check in two bus loads arriving en masse, and family groups were invited to wait, as their rooms would take a bit longer to organise.
The sun was up, so we took the opportunity to go for a wander round the main square before going back to the hotel and being allocated a room. Bit of a delay in getting a 4th bed for our room,and my daughter was already snoozing on two big cushions on the floor by the time they got it to us.
The phone went in the room about midday and the rep invited us to call into the reception to collect vouchers for lunch,which would be from 2pm in one of the restaurants in the main square. we all got up and headed down to pick them up.
For all the many years we have been going to Zakynthos the kids had never been into the main town. This is really due to the fact that my wife and I have been going a lot longer than them and had seen it, done it and had no real inclination to go back. Now they had the opportunity to see it, and it was a freebie :-).
It is a fairly ordinary Greek town, though due to the islands history it is probably laid out better now.
The main thing about Zakynthos Town is that it is the port for the island,so that was the logical place to start.
We wandered along the front and then up into the town. It's main street,whither solely because of tourism, seems to have a disproportionate amount of jewellers shops, or maybe the Zakynthians just like there bling. If they do it must just be for special occasions as there is no real sign of it day to day.
Went back to the seafront and having reached the far end of the harbour went over to look at the church of St Dennis.
Time to head back for lunch and found a table in the 'Corner Restaurant' and were given a limited,but sufficient, choice of meals from the menu. There is a monument at the corner of the restaurant beside the street commemorating Partisans killed by the Nazis on the 17th August 1944 during the islands occupation. After lunch I went for a walk round the town again while the other swent back to the hotel,and found the kids happily playing pool when got back.
Decided to go and walk the other way along the front and were staring over to the mainland,which is just a 45 minute crossing,when the ferry left port.
Everyone was gathered in the street outside at 5 o'clock as the buses arrived. The rep,who had actually finshed for the season and was a passenger on the flight as well, siad this should be a good sign, as if the aircraft was still grounded they would have left us in the hotel. Then again maybe not, nothing is ever guaranteed.
Back at the airport there was no need to check in again,names were just ticked off the flight manifest , and there were reps with luggage labels for anyone who had removed the originals. Looking at the departure screens, the flight was listed for departure at 18-50 and everyone proceeded through passprt control to the departure lounge.
This time there were no surprises and the flight boarded on time. To his credit the pilot came out of the cockpit to address the passengers and explained that on the planes approach in the morning one of the air speed indicators had malfunctioned. As a pilot he said he wouldn't fly in a plane that wasn't 100%, wouldn't expect his crew to and certainly never passengers as safety was paramout. He took full sole responsibility for the decision to ground the flight and said the crew were going to be late back just the same as all the passengers.
Wasn't really necessary as, apart from one guy grumbling briefly in the morning, most folk were pretty cool about it all and as for us we were just looking on it as an extra days holiday for free.
Flight arrived at the scheduled time back in Glasgow, just before 9pm,almost 13 hours late. The holiday company were well prepared and there were people on the airgate handing out letters with details of the delay for insurance purposes. I phoned our travel insurance the following morning and we each got £20 for the delay,and the cheque for £80 was there on Thursday morning.
To me then it turned out to be a bit of a result :-)