Flying Out

You know, Lagos airport never ceases to amaze me.  Even after living there for so many years and flying in and out countless times.

We used Qatar to fly out this time (we’re in Dubai, by the way!).  The last time we flew on Qatar was December last year.

Anyway, the Qatar Airways check-in queue was unbelievable.  It didn’t matter if you had checked-in online.  And it didn’t matter if you were a Qatar Airways cardholder.  There was one LONG line for everybody.  I should have found out actually if First and Business Class passengers could check-in separately.

Once you reach the front of the queue, you don’t go straight to a check-in counter.  Your bags have to be inspected first.  So you go to security.  No – not an x-ray machine.  They are checked manually.  You have to lift each case up onto a table, open it and someone goes through all your stuff.  Then you slide the bag over to the 2nd security officer.  And then to a 3rd.  They usually wish you a ‘happy weekend’, ‘Merry Christmas’ or they just say ‘Anything for me?’

If you’re lucky, they’ll get bored after the first bag and tell you to move on.  By the way, there’s no one to help with the lifting of bags or taking off of bags onto and off the table.  And when they’re done with you, they just start shouting for you to hurry up.  Not only do you have to be super-fast in taking your bags off the table, you have to zip them up and lock them first!

No, no.  It’s not time for check-in yet.  Then you have to stand in another line.  The person behind this desk checks your passports and visas.  They also write your name down on a passenger list.  NOW we move to the check-in desk.  This area is uneventful, but allows you to stand still for a few minutes.

Oh, I forgot to mention – there’s also no air conditioning anywhere.

So next is going through passport control, security and to the gate.

First a guy checks your boarding passes before you can go through to passport control.  You stand in another line and hand over your passports and departure cards.  You don’t wait there to get your passport back.  You go to the NEXT line (which is usually at the same desk).  I don’t know who checks what, who does the stamping or what they do with the departure cards, but it’s seriously annoying.

Annoying.  But not as bad as the check-in process.

Time for security!

You put your stuff through the x-ray machines.  You walk through the metal detectors and then get patted down by a security officer.  No use of a hand-held metal detector.  Is that because the walk-through metal detectors work properly?

When you finally reach the gate, there’s another queue.  It’s usually pretty long, but at least this part of the airport is cooler!  So to get in, a person at a desk checks your passports and visas.  And right behind him/her at another desk they check your boarding cards.  Once you go through, your hand luggage is searched.  You’re again wished a happy weekend of asked ‘Anything for me?’.  Then you’re body searched again.  Aaaand….  we’re in!

Don’t start cheering quite yet.

There isn’t enough seating at the gate (or enough space for all the passengers to even be there).  So many people are standing and all squashed together.  And they pack in more and more people until they’re ready to board the flight.  It gets hotter and hotter and everyone gets more and more agitated.  It’s hardly surprising though, is it?

I think the whole process is absolutely ridiculous.  I also think:

1. At least more people have jobs – you know, since everything is done three times.

2. Because there are more people checking everything, they are more likely to find banned items in carry-on and checked-in luggage.  HOWEVER, if they don’t do their jobs properly, there’s no point.  And they don’t tend to do it properly.  When we left yesterday, security looked in V’s suitcase.  Then they looked into one of my bags.  Both bags had only clothes in them.  They asked, ‘Only clothes inside all the bags?’  I replied, ‘Yes’.  They said, ‘Go.’  While this suited me just fine, I could have had ANYTHING in any of the other bags.

3. With more people checking passports and visas, they are more likely to catch people with fake documents.  Right?  Maybe they’re all more ‘on the ball’ now?

4. It would all work so much better if not everyone was looking for a pay-off of some kind.

That’s it.  Rant over.  And don’t even get me started on Arrivals!

We Made it to London! (Part II)

I mentioned in a previous post that:

1. I wouldn’t get my stroller until baggage reclaim

And

2. V had lost 3 pacifiers and was having a meltdown because he couldn’t handle having to stay in one place anymore…

So, 30 minutes after landing we were allowed to disembark.  V had been crying so much, he wouldn’t let me put him down.  Not even for a second.  This meant that I couldn’t get the Baby Bjorn out of the bag.  I couldn’t get it out of the bag or put it on!  So I carried him, my heavy handbag and his very heavy changing bag.

Getting off the plane was a challenge – his bag kept getting caught on every seat we walked past.  And the strap was so long, it kept bumping me in the back of my leg.

And then the walk started.  The walk to immigration was so effing long, I wanted to have a tantrum.  Seriously, Heathrow – think about it…  HOW DO YOU EXPECT PEOPLE TO WALK ALL THAT WAY WITH HEAVY BAGS AND HEAVY BABY?  By the time I reached immigration, I was nearly crying.

While in the queue, V started smacking the arm of the lady in front of us.  When she turned around, I realised it was someone I used to work with.  We had been on the same flight!  She asked me if the baby had been ‘finger-painting in chocolate’.  Eh?  I looked down at myself and realised that I was covered in lint from my pink and orange shawl (it looks better than it sounds (the shawl, not the lint)).  Not only was I covered, I was wearing black and white – so it was very noticeable.  Oh well…

I got a trolley and was going to cry with relief when I got to put V’s bag down on it.  And then I saw my stroller on the belt.  I love the stroller – it’s a Mamas & Papas Urbo.  

Urbo

It looks fab, but it’s not very practical.  It’s a bit heavy and you need two hands to open and close it.  Anyway, so my ex-colleague helped me take it off the belt and she held V while I opened it.  I chucked him in and gave him a biscuit to keep him quiet for a few minutes.  One bag came out.  I was still waiting for two when ex-colleague asked me if she should wait.  I felt bad, so told her to go ahead and that I would manage somehow.  The second bag came.  And then the third.  I had taken V out of stroller between bags two and three because he was cranky and crying.  I put him back in while loading the trolley.  

And then I looked at him in the stroller and at the trolley and had no bloody idea of how I was going to push them both.  

A very nice man offered to help me.  He said they were still waiting for 3 bags, but if I waited – they’d help.  I was too tired to wait any longer.  So I said I’d fold the stroller, throw it on top of the luggage and carry the baby.  But he didn’t know how to fold it down and I didn’t know what to do with V.  So I asked him to carry the baby for a minute and I’d fold it down.  The boy cried like he was being tortured!  But it was only for a second!  

So, carrying V and pushing the trolley with one hand, we started the wobbly walk to customs – trying to weave our way through other trolleys.  Why do people just stop while walking and expect not to be hit by a trolley?

I was so relieved to see my parents I nearly cried (yes, I nearly cried a LOT!).  Then my mum asked if V had thrown up all over me.  That’s when I remembered the lint.

I asked a lot of people for advice on what to do when flying alone with a baby, and now I know what to advise others if they ever ask me.  What I’ll say is: You will be absolutely fine if your baby isn’t very mobile yet.  And you’ll be fine if your child is old enough to sit in his/her seat and watch something on the entertainment system.  If he/she is at that in between stage, DON’T DO IT!