This week has been full of angst over the punctuality and reliability of airlines. It is the school holidays again and so it is an opportunity for us to spend some time with the PlayStation Junkie and Lush Fanatic. These days remarkably few airlines offer an unaccompanied minor service. Luckily, KLM is one of them but this means our holiday destination was somewhat determined by the overlap in their route network with flight destinations accessible from Trinidad. In fact, there are only two destinations globally where a direct flight from Trinidad and a direct KLM flight both land. New York is one and the other is Curaçao, which we chose. However, the only flight to Curaçao from Trinidad lands only five minutes earlier than the flight from Amsterdam. It also only flies every two days. All this leaves absolutely no margin for error in co-ordinating arrivals. It could either work perfectly or be an unmitigated disaster with children left alone on an island we cannot get to after their first ever long haul flight. Hence, the angst. When meeting the kids, we usually like to be at the airport with plenty of time to spare but that was all a lot easier to achieve with the Amsterdam-Aberdeen flight routing.
Peak angst was reached when Surinam Airways online check-in failed to recognise our booking code or ticket numbers and I was forced to contact the airline to reconfirm our flight. I was unaware that reconfirming flights was even something possible these days but their website indicated that option. In the time they took to reply, I established that the flight was sold out for the next week so we would not be able to buy another ticket and that the only other flight routings involved an overnight in Bogotà or Caracas with airlines blacklisted by the Handsome Dutchman’s employer for safety reasons. There was really no Plan B and I began to ask myself what was I thinking getting ourselves into this situation. I felt it unwise to share this with the Handsome Dutchman as his discomfort levels were already through the roof. Thankfully, it was not too long until I received a email from the airline confirming all was in order. I had for weeks been obsessively checking the flight statistics for on-time arrival and I knew that our flight was usually ahead of schedule and never more than five minutes behind schedule while KLM was routinely between half an hour and an hour late. I also knew that our much smaller plane would disembark and clear immigration far quicker than the plane from the Netherlands. At this point, all we needed was no freak event or engineering issue with the plane. Or exceptionally bad traffic to the airport or a myriad of other highly unlikely permutations of how we might not make it to Curaçao in time to materialise.
As is usually the case, our stress was unwarranted. We reached the airport and checked-in on time, the flight left and landed on time and because I had completed electronic landing cards, we bypassed the immigration queue. Miraculously, our suitcases were the first on the baggage belt and we were through customs in minutes. We then waited more than an hour for the PlayStation Junkie and Lush Fanatic to appear. The Handsome Dutchman then concluded that we were never ever going through this awful experience again! With the kids safely handed over to us, we could finally start to relax…and enjoy the view of the sunset from our balcony.