herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Right up there with Clooney's foibles

>THURSDAY Grounded. The word comes through sometime after midnight.

>FRIDAY There is an upside to my flight being cancelled. Now the ash cloud is causing problems in Spain. If I had got to the Balearics I might not have made it home for a family confirmation on Sunday.

>SATURDAY Very mysterious. Ryanair is sending people emails telling them their flight is cancelled. Then the flight departed on time. Passengers are cross and cranky.

>SUNDAY Some of the best journeys are close to home. Got to hold my youngest nephew, Hugo, at a family festivity, all five months and smiles.

Eyjafjallajokull, Fifi for short, has now cost me Majorca and Menorca, as well as Cuba and Germany. Wait til I meet her.

>MONDAY Another effort to get airborne. I trundle out to Dublin Airport for the EI121 to Orlando. There is a big DELAYED notice beside it on the screen, but the cloud is at my back and I am Florida-bound.

Icelandic ashes are loitering around Greenland forcing aircraft to take long detours. We are going to Orlando but we are using the LA route -- up north over Greenland and then looping around and back down. And then we see it. The culprit. Fifi, Eyjafjallajokull, looking unthreatening with its cone and its ashes scattering southward as we fly northwards. I do not know how close we flew, but Fifi was beautiful and I did not feel angry any more.

>TUESDAY All the things you probably hate about travelling -- the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi -- are warm reminders that I am home.

To know me is to fly with me. This is where I live. The touches keep my world in orbit.

I finally got to see George Clooney in Up in the Air, appropriately enough, up in the air. Yes I share his hostility of checking in ("35 minutes of your life lost"), his theory that everything has to fit in a carry-on, his eye for the shortest security queue, but I am short of his 322 days on the road. And I didn't get to sleep with Vera Farmiga.

Have you noticed how all the airlines all show the same movies at the same time: Up in the Air, Crazy Heart, Lovely Bones, Avatar, Precious, It's Complicated and Hachiko: A Dog's Story.

Orlando Airport has a three-card trick for reclaiming your luggage. I am glad I just have carry-on. The key card does not work in my hotel, the receptionist gets me into the room but when I go for a swim it won't allow me to re-enter and I face the prospect of an overnight on an Orlando poolside lounger. A few well-timed shouts gets me re-entry to my bedroom.

>WEDNESDAY Orlando again, 30 degrees and the ash cloud is far away. I have another flight to catch, the AA 544 down to Key West. Is that George Clooney ahead of me at the boarding gate?

Savvy Traveller: How the Travel Industry Works and How to Make it Work for You, by Eoghan Corry, e15

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