Arrival in the UK -- and I hate Air Transat!

Livingston Travel Blog

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No pictures to add to this particular entry, as I was too tired and crabby to take pictures. Dad picked me up to take me to the airport, and traffic was so light, we ended up there quite early. Which I didn't mind, because I wanted to get a decent seat. Arrived to discover that the flight was delayed an hour and 15 minutes at that point, as the flight was runing late from Glasgow. Well, okay, I thought; it could certainly be worse! Checked in without problem, and none of my baggage was over the limit, which I was relieved about, as I'd worried about that a lot before leaving. I took my carry on, and trundled off to the cash exchage place to buy some Scottish pounds so that I'd have a little bit of cash upon arrival (thanks, Dad, for the gift!). It was to be my first lesson in how nasty the exchange rate is. 99.70 Canadian dollars bought me 42 pounds. OUCH! Ah well, nothing to be done for it. I wandered a bit in the international pre-security section of the airport, and then decided to just go through security and then chill on the other side.

Security was dead, so that was nice not to have to stand in line forever (and this was not to be repeated in Glasgow, but that will come later!). What I did next was to try and find some internet kiosks so I could email Caroline to let her know we were delayed by at least an hour, and for her to check the website carefully before heading to Glasgow to pick me up (it's about an hour drive from Livingston). Well, I couldn't find many that were working worth a damn, and the few that -looked- like they were working worth a damn ended up eating up my change. Finally, in a fit of temper, I told myself that Caroline was a well-versed traveller and would certainly remember to check the website to see if things were in on time, and I wouldn't have to worry. So I headed to my gate, and settled in in front of one of the big screen tellys to watch some news, and read my book. For just a little while.

Which turned into a longer while. And then another longer while. At one point, the boarding attendants announced they were going to start announcing rows to board within 15 minutes. This dragged out to nearly 45 minutes before they started to do anything. You could just see everyone getting restless. Finally, they got the show on the road, and we were set to leave at midnight. Two hours after we were scheduled to go. Fine, okay. Sure! Except upon arrival onto the plane, I blinked! For a long-haul flight, this plane was bloody small!! I mean, I know Air Transat is a cheaper charter, but it really wasn't what I was expecting.

As soon as we were ready to go, they announced apologies for the delay (but didn't actually tell us WHY we were so delayed). Then came the announcement that this supposed non-stop flight was going to be stopping in Quebec City to refuel. WTF? That drew no end of commentary from all sorts upon the plane.

I had a lovely older couple from Glasgow beside me who chatted me up during the break at Quebec City -- in fact, there were quite a lot of us that started up a stretching/gab session, as the intended 45 minute refuelling break in Q.C. turned into TWO HOURS. Talk about going stir crazy. There were some nice moments, however... the sunrise when we were over Winnipeg, for one. I had an aisle seat in the middle of the plane, but thankfully, people had kept their window shades open so I could get a glimpse. That was nice. The people were super nice, and everything I was ever told about Scottish people was so true. Just lovely, kind people.

I didn't sleep well on the plane at all (I never do), and I was really feeling pretty haggard upon arrival. I've not seen many international airports, but I'll tell you, I'm quite spoiled by Vancouver. Ours is just a beautiful airport, and Glasgow's, in contrast, was quite small and unassuming. Of course, there's no shortage of airports for people to fly into on this island, and really, it isn't about the decoration so much as the service you get when you get there! And in this case, there were some highs and some lows. Again, here people were very, very friendly, but they didn't have many people working at customs, and the international line just dragged. Many of us were grousing that the UK citizens breezed through like nothing at all. They also had more customs attendants handling them, while the internationals had just one. Stil, there's something to be said for having eye candy in the queue, and there was a very attractive man working there, handing out entry cards for us to fill in, if we hadn't done it on the plane. I chatted him up a bit, after joking at such a long flight I needed a stiff drink. He offered to tell me of a few good pubs if I told him where I was staying -- except he'd never been to Livingston, so didn't know any! I asked him about a few in Glasgow, and then got called to the front to do my thing. I remarked to one of the other ladies in line that he was very cute, and she concurred, saying 'Yeah, and I think he fancied you. I caught him checking you out while we were in line!" I almost went back and asked him for his number to guide me around Glasgow when I went to visit, but alas! Did not, and I regret it! Ah well!

Met Caroline and her friend Rachel (DaftRachel) in the airport, and discovered that they'd been out and back twice, because the Glasgow International website said everything was on time -- only to arrive and discover it wasn't at all. I felt badly about it, but I got shushed. Caroline took me out to the pub, with the intention of getting me drunk and knackered so I'd sleep through the night. After two pints of cider, I pleaded with her to go home, since I was wiped. Unfortunately, I only slept 4 hours before waking up -- I slept fitfully after that, but never achieved quality sleep. Ah well. So ended my first day in Scotland!
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photo by: paul_m5