Off home/travelling on Iberia

So after my faux-pas on my IRST yesterday, I headed over to Jerez airport to catch my flight back to Heathrow.  I was still feeling a bit hacked off with myself, I scoffed my extra lunch I had made for myself while I waited in the departure lounge.  Jerez Airport is tiny, it has 4 gates and of those I have only ever seen 2 used.  It is a carbon copy of quite a few airports in Spain, I think the Spanish Government put out a tender for some airports and the winning contractor built all 12teen/however many they built exactly the same.

There was the usual bunch of lurkers around the boarding gate waiting for the flight to be called.  I sometimes question the mentality of Spanish travellers, they are actually lurking around the boarding gate so they can be the first in the queue to get on board an aircraft that isn’t even here yet.  The incoming flight is notoriously late, Expertflyer (a programme I use extensively to check booking class availability) has it running at an average of 75% on time with an average of 28minutes delay.  This 28 minutes delay is very annoying, because it often means I miss the connecting flight at Madrid-Barajas to Heathrow and then have to get my ticket re-issued for the later Heathrow flight.  I will save my rant for another day on Iberia customer service, but lets just say that inconsistent would be a massive understatement when it comes to sorting out these problems.  Anyway, because of this, for the last 6 journeys home I have either connected onto the London City flight operated by BA Cityflier, or I have taken the later Iberia flight.  Both of these also allow me to chill out in either the Iberia Dali or the Iberia Valaquez business class lounge with a glass of anything I like and I can sit down and have a late dinner before boarding the flight.  I normally pick up a small pot of Haagen Daaz ice-cream to scoff on board while I watch a movie or read my Kindle.

The incoming flight arrived, amazingly it was only 5 minutes late, this meant an on-time departure was possible.  There was suddenly lots of movement and bussle amongs the passengers and before you know it, there is a snaking queue of 50 passengers for the boarding gate.  The aircraft of course, is not yet ready, it is at the other end of the runway turning around, it then has to taxi the 2km back to the terminal, shut down, offload the passengers and baggage, then refuel before we can board.  These queue lurkers will be stood there for at least 20minutes, all shuffling their bags forward in turn by about half an inch like a domino rally every 2 or 3 minutes because the guy at the front sneezed and moved his back foot.  They are inching forward thinking they are making progress, but actually nothing is happening.  This has happened on every one of the flights I have taken with Iberia while out here in Jerez (check my flight memory for the 30 something flights I have made) it is quite the spectacle to watch.

Eventually the person at the boarding gate calls the flight and there is more inching forward.  I sit there waiting for the priority boarding call, it is a One-world rule that they call frequent flyers first along with passengers with babies.  Eventually the call is made requesting that one world emerald/sapphire and passengers with babies board first/at their leisure.  The queue shuffles forward another couple of inches, not giving any space for Iberia ground staff to execute the request they have just made.  What always happens though, is that they open a second boarding desk and drop a little flag saying “business class” on it.  This is my signal to stand up and walk past everyone with my ticket and go straight to the second boarding desk, feeling the glares of the seething queue-lurkers and hearing the tuts as I walk past. 

I hand in my boarding pass and walk out the revolving door.  I decide that despite having a good seat right at the front, that I will request a jump-seat to Madrid.  I am first on board and ask the purser if it is possible, I hand her my AENA pass and she goes to talk to the captain.  I sit down in row 2 and wait for the purser to come back and let me know.  While waiting I watch the circus act that is Spanish people boarding an aircraft.  You would think that because they were so desperate to be at the front of the queue, they would board the aircraft quickly and sit down?  Wrong, totally the opposite.  They amble across to the aircraft, crawl up the stairs, and then shuffle along the aisle looking at every single seat number and cross-checking it with their ticket, not realising for one minute that their ticket indicating row 39F might actually be 39 rows of seats from the front of the aircraft.  When they finally reach their seat, they take about 12teen minutes to remove their huge coats made of walrus skin before proceeding to place their 4 pieces of hand luggage that they have sneaked past check-in into the overhead bin, whilst extending the same full courtesy they did at the gate to the cabin crew who are calling “please place only one piece of baggage in the locker and everything else under the seat in front of you”

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The purser finally comes back, “you can go to the front now”.  I wander up to the flight deck and introduce myself, the captain and the first officer are both very friendly and speak outstanding English.  I ask if it is ok to film a tiny bit with my camera, and they are fine with it.  I sort of lie and explain that I have just completed my CPL/IR and am about to start my JOC on Monday and my Type rating in a month.  They take this as licence to give me a quick rundown on everything they do in the aircraft and why they are doing it.  I will later realise when on my JOC that they must have enormous capacity to be able to do this.

The flight to Madrid was pretty uneventful, below is a video of the flight.  When I got to Madrid I headed to the Dali lounge to get my dinner and ask for the sommelier as today I fancy going through a lot of the expensive wine that they have on offer, it also should be the last time that I have to make this arduous trip home.  I don’t think I will miss it one bit, but just in case, I make a start with the 2002 Rioja the sommelier is recommending to me…

A few wines, some dinner, baileys on ice, and a cappuccino later, I grab some ice cream and head for the gate for the Heathrow flight.  The advantage of being in the business lounge is that the flight information is on a different system to that in the general terminal, it updates much more frequently and only calls you for the gate 10 minutes before boarding starts, It looks like it will be on time as the flight is called.  The aircraft is an A321, I sit in the second row away from all the noise of the tourists heading to London for the weekend.  Its forecast to snow this weekend, but for the first time ever, I am hoping that it will not stop me from getting back.  It starts snowing on the Saturday afternoon which puts a dampener on any major plans we had for the weekend, as the evening draws in it starts to snow quite heavily.  I am hoping it is not too thick in the morning.

I wake up early in the morning, one of the annoying things about getting up at 8am every day in Spain is that I wake up at 7am in the UK every morning.  My wife has always told me to never ever wake her up early unless it is for the following two things:  1) It is snowing, 2) A celebrity has died.  This morning it was snowing, so I went down and flicked the heating on and made big cups of tea using the pint mugs.  I then set about the arduous task of clearing the driveway, this is one of the major disadvantages of living in a converted granary mill, the driveway is pretty long and has an annoying slope which makes it difficult to get the car out in the snow.  This is exasperated by us having rear wheel drive cars, I had vowed I would invest in winter tyres after last years snow, but instead I had settled for emergency snow socks for the car which are great for emergencies but no good for long distances or driving on patches where the snow has melted.  So clearing the drive it was.

It was a nice weekend at home, we went for dinner with my in-laws at a nice restaurant on the Southend-on-Sea coast.  It was that cold that the sea was all frozen and the sand was covered in snow, it looked quite spectacular, I really wish I had my SLR camera.  I took a few pics with the excellent Sony I got for Allie, but I never uploaded the album, so this photo with the iPhone will have to do.

southend beach

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~ by globalste on February 4, 2012.

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