Hello Dear Reader
So having braved crazy driving and enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere of the souq, it was time to head to the desert to actually do some work.
However I did have enough time before heading to the airport for my flight to walk down to the beach and dip my toes in the med it had to be done really I can now say I have dipped my toes in the med on both sides of it.
So we arrive at the airport, now this was not the international airport with I had flown into from London, this was an internal airport for flights within Libya, or to Algeria or Tunisia. I was to take a chartered flight owned by one of the oil companies and I was told if you asked your flying to Area 103. All thought this trip was only to be about 2 hours (30 mins in the airport and 1.5 hours flying) I was once again presented with experiences I have not come across before, some of them I am not looking forward to repeating on my return journey, including
- Self check-in – not what you thinking
- No restrictions on the number of bags you check in.
- Departure board = Pen, Paper and Selotape
- No one manning the metal detector
- A blatant disregard for rules
- Novel safety briefings
Self check-in & No Bag Restrictions
You see the term self check-in and you think of Heathrow Terminal 5 those stations where you swipe your passport and type in your customer number before the system prints your boarding pass.
This was nothing like that, we arrived at the check in desk and were presented with a list of names and told to find ours, after scanning the list we eventually found it, with help from my driver what with the list being in Arabic. We pointed at the name to be given a pen and asked how many bags. I asked my driver if I was allowed to check-in 1 or 2 bags he gave me a shrug as if to say what ever you want. Then next to my name we wrote two they put a label on each bag and they passed me the ticket and that was the job done. I had literally checked myself on to the plane. All that was left to do was to wait for my departure.
The Next Plane Leaves at
I had been told my plane was at 15:00 but I could, not see a departure board or anything similar so asking my driver when the flight was he told me the will call us. Ok I thought sitting down I started to read my book. After about 20mins I was looking around the room and I notice as one of the entrance gates a man had stuck a note to the window of his box reading 16:00, I spoke to the driver as asked if the plane had been delayed, “different plane” I was informed. But that was the departure board, no need for technology just a marker pen and the back of a letter stuck to the wall. Eventually there was movement towards the other gate (there were only 2) and my driver indicated that I should join the queue.
We said our goodbyes and I waited in line, it sounds very posh all this talk of drivers but if you have not read part 1, then you will understand why a driver is required.
Metal & Rules.
The queue I had joined was going through security, I got to the front and placed my bag on the x-ray machine and walked through the metal detector forgetting to remove my belt and receiving a beep, looking round for who was going to search me I found no-one, there was also no-one looking at the screen of the x-ray machine and my standing. I looked slightly worried but moved to pick up my bag and headed toward a desk with two official looking people who stamped my ticket and then pointed towards the bus.
I was just gobsmacked, it seemed like the X-ray and metal detector were there because, well because that what you have.
However this was just the start, I got on the plane pick a seat got my book out and waited for the flight to leave. We went through the usual preflight routine stewardesses did the safety briefing with no-one paying any attention. Then you hear that message “The Captain has turned on the fasten seatbelts sign please can you switch of any electrical devices for take off”
I sat back in my seat and waited for takeoff as we taxied to the end of the runway, the engines throttled up and we started to accelerate down the runway, half way down the runway engines at full throttle the phone of the gentleman across the aisle from me rings,
As the nose of the plane lifts off he answers it and starts having a conversation, I look the other way to the person in the seat next to me and he is sending a text.It was not even as if he was being discreet about it, it was just a blatant disregard for the rules, totally unbelievable.
It was not the only phone call that was taken that flight, so I hope the pilot did not have anything important to listen to.
The flight was a hop flight we flew for and hour landed on a strip in the desert for some passengers to leave and then hopped on to Area 103. When we were preparing for take off for the last leg of the flight, the air crew came out to do the safety briefing. So I am half listening as I get my book out and find my page, when I realised that they missed a bit, they did not tell me that in case of landing on water my life jacket was under my seat that I put it over my head etc. how odd I thought.
It was only after we took off and I was looking out the window the nearest water is about 500km away, the chance of us landing anywhere near water was remote and if we did we were very lost.
Despite all these rather unusual practices, well unusual for me. We landed at Area 103 on time and stepping of the plane to the most magnificent sunset