The flight ⇢ Are we there yet?
Yes, you guessed it … our new city (for at least the next 12 months) is EAST LONDON. No, not east of London in the United Kingdom 😉 … but the city East London in the province of the Eastern Cape in South Africa.
Let me be honest … it’s probably not our first (or second) choice, but when things started to happen, it happened really fast. And everything just fell into place – the one door opened after the other and we just knew this was meant to be. And you know us – we are open minded, adventurous and love new challenges! We know there is beauty in every place … sometimes you just have to dig a little bit deeper to find that!
So, when Berto’s new company said “it’s going to be East London”, we packed 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks and got on the plane. But a flight that should have taken 1 hour and 30 minutes, turned out to be almost 8 hours! We thought: “Is this really meant to be?”.
We will tell you everything about our new home in coming posts (we are actually not staying in East London, but in a beautiful suburb of this small city). For now, I would like to tell you about how we got to East London … on a flight that really tested our patience!
We were ready to fly from Cape Town at 13:10 … enough time to get our hired car in East London and to find our (temporarily) self-catering cottage on the outskirts of the city. Berto’s been a couple of times to East London in the early 2000’s for business, but I have never been there and were looking forward to see this city (in day light).
As we entered the plane, a bee was doing his/her rounds up and down inside the plane. Some passengers freaked out a little bit and the crew eventually got hold of this little one … unfortunately, it had to be killed to get the passengers back in their seats. A couple of minutes later as scheduled, the plane was soon on the runway, ready to depart …
As the plane started to accelerate (probably halfway before getting up into the air), we heard a loud noise and the plane had to brake very sharply … see, that’s why you have to wear your seatbelts! A little bit shocked, we looked at each other – could it be a burst tyre or something that had fallen off the plane? But no, the captain informed us that a big heron just flew into one of the plane’s engines!
Our plane had to find its way back to a parking bay where we were met with some emergency vehicles. The captain informed us that the engine would be inspected to see if (and how much) damage were caused by the bird strike. After 15 minutes we were informed that the engine had too much damage in order to continue with the flight and that a bus will take us back to the airport building, where we would be receiving further instructions.
With hand luggage in tow, we were ‘welcomed back’ into the airport building. Now, it’s true that there are no airplanes on standby for incidents like these … it was explained to us by the ground staff that we would be waiting for a plane carrying passengers from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Once that plane landed, it will be cleaned and we would be taken to East London … the new departure time was now 18:10. Ok, so 5 hours later as originally scheduled.
For us, it wasn’t such a big deal – we had arranged a rented car and will only have to drive 30 minutes to our destination. Other passengers were not that lucky and had to scramble for alternative arrangements.
FlySafair, our airline, handed out complimentary refreshment vouchers to all affected passengers which we could use at any restaurant in the airport. We could walk around freely (of course behind the security gates) … enjoying lunch while waiting for our delayed flight.
We walked (and sat) around for a couple of hours – watched people coming and going (and reading) – before we walked over to Mug & Bean for a delicious late lunch.
Satisfied and happy after enjoying a delicious light meal, we found our way back to the area from where we would leave again.
Delayed flight delayed:
But then more bad news … our plane was delayed in Johannesburg and we will now depart an hour and a half later than planned … the new time slot was now 19:30.
I said to Berto: “Remember that bee and heron … they are now taking revenge”.
Eventually our plane arrived, and though a bit later than scheduled, we were picked up by airport busses and transported to our plane. It was probably the quickest boarding I have ever seen and we were seated in no time! But then …
An argument between passengers and air hostess:
We heard a noise coming from the back of the plane and the next moment a crying air hostess walked pass us. What now? We don’t know what exactly were said and happened … the captain (the same one of earlier during the bird strike) came out and had a discussion with the crew. Ten minutes later, the police arrived on the plane to talk to the rowdy passengers. After a lot of “he said, she said”, the police left. After a while, the (affected) air hostess also left the plane, which left the captain with one crew member short …
Is this even possible?
In the next hour, five passengers also left the plane … which mean their baggage also had to be removed from the plane’s cargo hold. The captain explained that he was waiting for another crew member and if people don’t settle down, the flight will have to be cancelled. He also mentioned that East London’s airport are closing at 22:00 … which meant we were running out of flying time!
After a very long day at the airport (and in the plane), we finally left Cape Town International Airport at 20:45 – phew! I’m sure the captain has switched to super sonic speed, because we landed in East London in an hour and 10 minutes (5 minutes before the airport would close)!
Over the years, we had a few sketchy flights (oh, that one with Emirates to Dubai back in 2017 … hang on, that’s another story), but this one must be very close to be at our number one spot of “most difficult flights”!
We made it … just!
After collecting our luggage and receiving our rental car, we ended up on a road that had road works galore … in the dark and when you don’t know the roads, this was not fun! We finally arrived at our self-catering cottage after 23:00 … all that we wanted to do now, was going to bed!
PS: Did I mention I’m a bit of a nervous flyer …