Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Airline deja-vu

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands, BWI - Today, the reservations for the 20-minute flight to Grand Turk Island I'd supposedly had for 6 weeks couldn't be found by the local airline known as Sky King, so I got bumped from the 2pm flight to the 3pm.

Loren or somebody from the Osprey Beach Hotel was going to collect me from the 2 o'clock flight. They needed to be updated. But there are no coin-operated phones in the Providenciales airport and I don't know how to use T&C calling cards. So I asked the clerk at Sky King if she could call the hotel and tell them I'll be an hour late.

She said the only line they had was to the Grand Turk airport. Well, could she ask the airport to call the hotel and notify them that Tupper will be coming in at 3 instead of 2. She couldn't, offering this amazing solution: "When they don't see you get off the plane, they'll know you'll be on the next one."

Most people I know would have disintegrated over that. I loved it. The spirit of these islands is cheerful disappointment, and I think it's healthy. It outfits you for life generally.

I did some word processing for an hour, boarded the 3 o'clock plane and arrived Grand Turk at 3:20. Now the plot gets really juicy.

Loren wasn't there. Nobody was there for me. No telephones in the Grand Turk airport. But there's a clerk for a car/dune buggy rental company. I asked her to please call the Osprey Beach hotel -- with some difficulty, because she was Haitian and couldn't quite get straight the numbers I gave her. Eventually she made contact and Loren's wife Jenny arrived within 6 minutes.

Here's what had happened. Loren had been there for the 2 pm flight, and had waited until well after 3 pm. He'd asked at the SKy King desk when the next flight from Providenciales would be landing, and the desk had said 4:30. Loren didn't know the 3 o'clock flight had already landed, with me on board, and was taxiing to the gate. The Sky King agent just presumed Loren knew this. So Loren returned to his office, prepared to return to the airport and pick me up at 4:30.

Such wrinkles in communication happened often in air travel during the 50's and 60's, but rarely today. You have to go to places like remote Caribbean islands to experience them. They're old-fashioned, refreshing, and yes, character-building.

Wish you were here.

1 Comments:

Blogger MrMystic said...

The people living in the streets of Bombay should have our flight problems.

6:49 AM  

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