When a flight from Treviso airport, Italy – the name still sends a shiver down my spine – to Bristol, UK was cancelled, I stood in a queue (needlessly as it turned out) for SEVEN hours.
I moved 147 steps forward in more time than it takes to cross the Atlantic.
As a British citizen, I am no stranger to this experience. I have, of course, queued in the famous Wimbledon queue. However, being stranded in Treviso wasn’t quite the same experience. At Wimbledon, smiling stewards proffer stickers and formal guides to queuing, and there lots of opportunities to purchase strawberries and cream.
The strawberries were lacking in Treviso.
And, with more and more delays/cancellations occurring at airports all over the country – including the delays over third runway decision at Gatwick – you made need to follow this advice.
This is a guide to my survival:
- Harry Potter
If there is one thing that will help you survive and keep you calm regardless of the situation, it is Stephen Fry recounting the adventures of Harry Potter. It is familiar, relaxing, and entertaining. If, however, you aren’t still mourning the lack of your Hogwarts letter, then listening to other books on your phone is a lifesaver: long, engaging, and blocks out the screaming children. Also, it’s much easier to shuffle forward zombie-like with headphones in than reading a book.
- Take the edge off
I sincerely regretted leaving the bottle of disgusting Croatian vodka at the Airbnb before I left for the airport. I needed a tonic – preferably with gin in it. The next time I went to an airport I brought beer: you should always be prepared. A slightly buzzed state of mind will relax you and increase enjoyment of the uncomfortable situation. Just remember to down it before security. Eating your wait out of a boring situation is also recommended – although not with the overpriced cardboard food on offer at Treviso airport.
- The right company
Luckily – although it was last leg of our 3 weeks of travel – my travelling companion and I were mostly still talking to each other. He let me wander off to enjoy the sights/amenities of Treviso airport (there aren’t any) and encouraged a fighting spirit when the emotions frayed and the tussling began. This included helpful commands such as ‘block him out’ and a repeated bark of ‘PUT YOUR ELBOW ON THE DESK.’ Conversely, if they are getting on your nerves you can spend a surprisingly long amount of time plotting the most gruesome execution imaginable for them.
- People watching
This is an art in itself: the drama of the queue rivals any opera. The queue gets slower as the frustration builds. The rumours that filtrate (if you fly out Palermo – you might get home by next Monday), the extravagant lack of information and misdirection, and the warm/sweaty Italian weather help to set the scene. There is the suave James Bond figure in chinos who breezed past – probably onto a private helicopter, the voluptuous Molly Weasley wittering on about travel insurance with a seven year old clamped onto each limb, and the British couple bickering with an Italian over a seat to Bristol. Awkwardly avoiding eye contact with the antagonistic figures of the queue while attempting to ascertain information helps to pass the time.
- British stiff upper lip
You have served your time queuing at Wimbledon. You are here to civilise those pesky Europeans and show them how it’s done. A positive and wholly unrealistic attitude that your plight will be over soon, that some big understanding has occurred, and that within the hour you will be sitting comfortably with a The Telegraph and a milky cup of tea with the whole situation completely resolved. This is combined with a stubbornness to admit defeat and a resolve to make it to the end.
- Free wifi (Netflix)
Be tactical with your allowance. One friend forgot their ipad at an airport, and consequently just bought another in duty free. This could be a good tactic to get lots more wifi. Distracting yourself with American comedies will help the time slip by – especially when you get past hour five and nothing really seems real: a concept of time and life outside the queue is a blurred memory.
- Send postcards
Win brownie points with family and friends, make some use out of your available time, and try to remember that there were some good times in your trip before the queue started. Hopefully.