The day has come. The husband and I packed our stuff and were ready to get on the flight to Croatia for my sister’s wedding. Croatia eased their restrictions a bit and Croatian citizens and their family members could now travel from third countries (out of EU) with one dose of vaccine.
If you ever hear the husband singing “I’ve got a golden ticket” from Willy Wonka, this is why.
This was excellent news as it saved us quite a bit of money on test fees.
Last year when I was flying to Croatia, the airport was almost deserted. With UK green list being mostly countries that don’t accept British tourists or smaller islands you can get to only by going through a red or amber country, we didn’t expect many people at the airport this time either. Yeah, that was not the case…
First thing’s first, Ryanair took much longer than usual to check the one bag we had. The staff, of course, is not familiar with the restrictions of EVERY country so, before letting the husband check his bag, they had to check that he’s good to travel to Croatia with just 1 vaccine dose.
They never got the answer from their colleagues on the other side of the walkie talkie, but since I repeatedly said he’s good to go as he is a member of a Croatian family (what an honour!), they let him pass.
Then came the security. There was, in my opinion, only a third less people travelling than usual in the middle of summer. However, they only had 3 security lines open. Our queue was sharing one of those lines with the fast tracked passenger queue.
It took ages to get through security. In the middle of highest season with Stansted teaming with travellers, going through security never took this long!
Lo and behold, it took that long that they closed the boarding gate in front of our eyes! This was the first time we missed a flight in about 12.5 years of flying regularly (the “charm” of a long distance relationship).
What to do if you miss your flight?
We followed the route back following the “returning passengers” signs. Once we got all the way back to security, we stopped one of the staff to tell them we missed our flight and needed to get our bag.
We were not the only ones.
There was a girl who was denied boarding due to the lack of Covid test, an Italian guy whose phone battery died and he had no paper boarding pass. He also barely spoke English so I was an acting translator during our tour 😀 The lady taking us through the airport to check us out said this has been happening a lot in the past few weeks and that they received many complaints about the security lines.
After taking a lovely tour of the airport, we, and the rest of the unlucky ones, picked up our bags and were left to figure out what to do next.
At this point we had been up for about 5+ hours and had no food, coffee or water for that matter. Deflated, we sat down for a bucket coffee right there at the airport and started calculating and planning.
Luckily, we are currently in a situation where we could book a flight for the next day, going to a different Croatian city. Also, the tickets were still cheap. I am actually publishing this from Croatia XD
Thing to remember if flying during the pandemic:
- getting to the airport 2 hours before the flight might actually not be enough. All it takes is for a few delays to line up and BOOM! you miss your flight.
- the staff at Stansted said the busiest times are the weekends, Friday to Sunday, especially early morning flights.
- please, please, PLEASE! remember to have your carry on liquids in a see-through bag and ready to put in the tray along with your laptop and belt/watch. All the security lines can be open but it won’t help if people keep wandering around like sheep with their mouths open waiting for instructions.
- with all the different restrictions and rules set by each country, the staff at the airport won’t know them and they’ll have to check. Make sure you know what you need and stand your ground.
- if you’re going to the check in desk, the staff there will check your flight eligibility and write it on a slip of paper for you. Don’t lose it, you’ll need it at the gate.
Our Sunday flight was a bit later and when we came to the security around 9.30 it was EMPTY. My bag that went completely fine the previous day, was now held for an additional check up. The usual Ryanair bag drop was closed and we had to go through the check in desks.
It just proves that even if you’re a frequent flyer, you shouldn’t get lolled into a false state of security. All it takes is for few things to not go as planned and you end up having to wave at your plane as it leaves without you.
How is the traveling situation on your end?