So, the story ends here, sort of. We're back in the land of warm beer, constant rain, rolling green hills and BBC Radio 4, and very nice it is, too. We flew back courtesy of CheesyJet, which in combination with a million other skiers at Geneva Airport was a rather underwhelming experience. So, dear CheesyJet, here are a few elementary hints on how to make the Geneva Airport experience a smidgen more pleasant.
1. A strict no checkin prior to 2h before departure means more, not less chaos in a place where all people arrive at the same times. Busses arrive from the bigger resorts only a few times a day so many people have to wait around for hours before being allowed to check in. With the bulky luggage involved in skiing, this means that the people who ARE allowed to check in struggle to do so due to all the others in the way. This is too obviously stupid. A numpty could work out the consequences. Spoke to a very nice gentleman who'd bust his knee - first injury in 40 years of skiing. He skies every year in Zermatt for a week, and - until now - always flies BA. However, this time the BA flight had meant a very early start so against his better judgement decided to fly CheesyJet on the homeward bound leg. He was caught up in the melee, too, and vowed never to peruse their services again.
2. Your system of forcing all people to use the checkin machines first will only save time if they actually work. If they don't work, or constantly crash, as was the case at Geneva, this means that queues get longer and tempers more frayed. Incomprehensibly, your checkin staff does not appear to have the option of checking in people at the desk, which rather amusingly led to your staff continuously having to leave their desk and queue up infront of the few working machines in the hall to try to fix the issues of people not getting their boarding passes or baggage tags.
3. When the machines break, and frustrated passengers ask your staff what to do, if the member of staff then says to line up in front of the handicap checkin, the frustrated passengers will be more, not less frustrated when they reach the front of the queue and get turned away because they actually don't need special boarding assistance. Maybe educating your staff such that they all agree on the procedure might be in order?
4. Some people do need special assistance - like me. If multiple seats have been booked, and payed for, to ease the pain of a broken leg, say, then maybe your staff need not query this to try to get the passenger to go back to a single seat just because the flight is overbooked. Not all crippled passengers have the advantage of a Sarah to argue their case. If I pay for three of something in advance, I expect to get three of that something, rather than one, without having to make a scene.
Anyway. Once we got on the plane, the rest of the trip was uneventful. And I really appreciated my three seats.
We'd arranged for a hire car at Bristol Airport such that we could transport ourselves and all our kit down to Sarah's parents in sunny Dorset. They've kindly let us park our cars on their drive way whilst we've been away. Now, Sarah had left her driver's license at home, given that we didn't expect to need it, which presented us with a tasty little problem when it came to picking up our hire car. However, Sarah managed to wangle it beforehand over the phone. She could sell sand to the Arabs, I tell you. She also managed to talk herself past the jobsworth airport security guard to pick me and all the luggage up outside the door.
It is nice to be back, even for a limited time.
We'll head back to Bristol tomorrow so that I can see my doctor. We'll be staying with our good friend Henk who's kindly offered to put us up for a few nights. After all orthopedics have been sorted we'll be coming back down here to Dorset to stay with Sarah's parents for a few weeks to be spoilt with good food and drink, and in Sarah's case - cat therapy. Cats are funny. They seem to prefer laptop keyboards - the moment you sit down and switch your laptop on, they jump up and sit on it.
We're heading out to Sweden after that for an extended period. Sarah's starting an intensive Swedish course on the 8th of May, and we expect to stay out until about October.