A Foggy Flight-Plan

Going to Amsterdam for Django Under The Hood should have been rather straight forward. Hop on a plane to Vienna at 06:00, then there onto one headed to Amsterdam, and finally catch a train from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal at 09:30. The conference even started at 13:00 so doing all that on the first day of the event should have left me with nearly 4 hours to spare and do things like buying a data SIM card.

Well, turns out that the old saying about plans and their first contact with the battlefield still holds true. In this case you can replace “the battlefield” with “fog”. So the tl;dr version of this is: Always plan at least 12 hours of buffer no matter where you want to go 😃


The details

So what happened exactly? Long story, so I thought I’d simply put it into a time-line for November 5, 2015:

Find the ground

  • I got up at 03:15 and took a taxi at 04:40 to Graz Airport.
  • Flight to Vienna Airport lift-off at 06:05 (5 minutes delay).
  • Flight reached Vienna but couldn’t land due to extreme fog and was detoured to Linz.
  • It wasn’t really clear which way to go from here and after about an hour the plane left again for Vienna for a second try.
  • 09:00: This time it worked! So now I was in Vienna but nearly 2h too late so off I went to the next service station to get a new flight to Amsterdam. Turns out the next direct one would have been at around 3pm so I got booked onto one at 10:10 to Frankfurt with a connection to Amsterdam right afterwards. Planned arrival around 13:30. The whole Austrian service desk was completely overloaded as all re-bookings are done manually.
  • Flight to Frankfurt got delayed by 20min so I talked to a very friendly staff member at Gate F04. She couldn’t help me either but suggested that it might still work out depending on which gate is assigned to the connecting flight in Frankfurt.
  • Right after boarding the plane another 20min delay was announced. There was not the slightest chance anymore that I’d make my connection to Amsterdam.
  • Plane took off to Frankfurt at around 11:05 (so nearly 55min after the scheduled departure time).
  • 12:35: I arrived in Frankfurt 15min after my connection to Amsterdam had left. “Hello, Service Desk” again.
  • Lufthansa had automatically re-booked me onto a flight leaving at 16:30. Yey, 4 hours of sitting around at Fraport.
  • I arrived in Amsterdam at 17:45 and left the terminal at 18:00.
  • Arrived at the hotel at 19:30

Not bad: only 9 hours later than anticipated, a whole conference day missed and after arriving at Amsterdam Centraal all of my friends already had had dinner. Good times.

At least I saw more cities than expected. Instead of being in Graz, Vienna, and Amsterdam, I also was in Linz and Frankfurt 😉

Things I’ve learnt:

  • Lufthansa does automatic re-booking by default which you can then adjust. With Austrian the whole process seems to be manual.
  • The baggage reclamation hall at Schiphol no longer sells train tickets without chip cards.
  • Sitting around a whole day at airports is extemely dull especially as the free WiFi at Fraport is restricted to a certain number of hours.
  • Move somewhere with better flight-connections. This is really getting out of hand here.
  • Walking from the west end of Amsterdam’s inner city to the eastern one takes around 35 minutes.
  • The iPhone 6S is adequat for taking pictures of fog from a plane.
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