I was about to make the longest journey. 28 hours to Australia. I was a bit worried, but also excited to push the limit. My plan was to fly out of Zagreb on Sunday afternoon and be in Sydney on Tuesday early morning local time.
On the D-Day goodbyes were exchanged and a few tears danced around the cheeks of interested parties before entering the security check. The security at Pleso, Zagreb’s airport, got stricter lately. You have to show a boarding pass, then do a body and baggage scan, go through a passport control (sometimes showing a boarding pass, too) and when you finally get to the gate, you have to show the boarding pass and the passport again. Mostly unnecessary and inefficient, but I got through.
The bus drove us to the Dash 8 turboprop airplane. This may be a good time to say I don’t like propeller airplanes, especially if I’m sitting just next to a propeller. Which I was, of course. After the shortest safety demonstration ever, conducted by two middle aged stewards who looked like they really wanted to stay home today, the airplane propelled itself into the sunset. My journey began …
… and got interesting. Twenty five minutes into the flight, the pilot turned the speaker: “Dear passengers, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
“OK”, I’m thinking quickly, “if they didn’t pack sandwiches, I can deal with it. If there are problems and delays in Frankfurt, I have a three hour layover, so I’ll certainly make it in time. I’m ready for everything. Come on, give me your best shot!”
Pilot: “There has been a technical malfunction and we have to go back to Zagreb. I’m sorry for any inconveniences.”
The little angry voice in my head: “What? Take me back? And you’re sorry?! No, no, I don’t buy it, where are hidden cameras? Wait, why are you turning? Stop! You were serious? Damn.”
The plane turned around, the crew prepared us for the landing and switched all cabin lights off for safety precautions. Do you know those fluorescent lights on the floor that guide you to exits in the a case of an emergency, but are never turned on? Well, they were now. And they were glowing ominously.
The plane was shaking during descent, followed by a pretty rough landing and finishing with a breaking so strong that many people had to push against the seat in front. I wasn’t scared; I was annoyed because nobody was telling us anything.
The bus took us to a gate where they finally explained that we can wait for another flight in about two hours certainly missing all our connecting flights and then try our options from Frankfurt or cancel that flight, stay in Zagreb and negotiate another one at some future time. An elderly couple overheard me mentioning Sydney, so they rushed to my side, pretty confused and scared. They were flying there too, so she asked me what should we do. At that moment, I knew “team Sydney” was being formed. Let’s call the new members Leo and Mary.
We decided to stay in Zagreb and see if the ticketing office could help us. The lady there found us the same tickets for tomorrow. It was the earliest flight to Sydney, so I concluded it was a good call to stay home. Waiting in Frankfurt would be too much.
Team Sydney parted ways and agreed to try again tomorrow. Like we had any choice :)