Wednesday 13 January 2010

Travel chaos - Part 3 - Day trip to the Azores

The morning of day three of this epic voyage from Scotland to Flores in the Azores saw us at Lisbon airport bright and early for an 08.30 flight to Ponta Delgada on the Azorean island of Sao Miguel whence we would catch another flight later the same day to Flores.

All went well until we seemed to be just feet above the ground at PD and the plane's engines screamed to signify it was breaking off the approach and climbing away. Moments later, the captain came over the tannoy to report he'd been prevented from landing by fog.

So having jumped out of the frying pan of the white fluffy stuff which causes travel chaos in Britain, we'd landed in the fire of the grey swirly stuff which causes it in the Azores - if you'll pardon the inappropriately mixed metaphors.

Long/short, the flight diverts to the nearby island of Terceira where it lands and the captain announces we're not getting off because there's just time to refuel before returning to Lisbon!

An unhappy band of travellers it is which disembarks back at Lisbon. It is little consolation to able to claim the fame of having been on a day trip to the Azores.

We're booked on a later flight to PD to depart at 7.00pm but that too is cancelled due to continuing fog at PD. Another night, another hotel (and dinner) at the expense of an airline. Also another night, another day with the same socks and pants as our luggage - last seen at check-in at Glasgow - has not caught up with us yet and no opportunity to get to a shop to buy replacements.


Kathie said...

So they wouldn't let you off in Terceira since you were already a lot closer to home than even PDL), in order to get a connecting to Flores (or at least to Horta)? Obviously the fog wasn't a problem in the central islands, if your flight could be diverted there. I suppose it was an air security issue, since both the US and Portuguese Air Forces have their bases on the other side of the Lajes airstrip from the commercial air terminal, right?

BTW, I've learned the hard way always to travel with a minimum of TWO changes of clothing (including clean undies) as well as all toiletries packed in my carry-on bags. Makes the delayed-flight situation slightly less unbearable.

Marisa said...

Tha´t's not the procedure. They dond't have flight connections from Terceira, it's risky. Besides,TAP is responsible for the hotel, so if they didn't get to the destiny they must return. There' the question of luggage,(in this case there was no problem, hehehe).

Kathie said...

If there's no direct flight from Terceira to Flores this time of year, then presumably passengers could at least get a connecting one on Faial.

Marisa said...

I was refering to Carol and Neil not having flights booked from Terceira, of course there are flights from Terceira to Flores.

Kathie said...

I'd have been a bit more, ahem, assertive -- although, of course, ever-polite and never lachrymose -- if the airline tried to shlep me all the way back to Lisbon instead of letting me off at Terceira when it was so much closed to my ultimate destination. You'd be amazed what magic tap-tap-tapping those airline folks can perform when properly motivated.

Kathie said...

" much closeR..." (should've previewed before posting).

Marisa said...

Well Kathie i'm not sure about that, because if your luggage was on board, believe me that they wouldn't mess around with the other passengers who did not want to stay at Terceira and keep them, waiting to find your bags. The hotel arrangements and everything else is in Lisbon, in such case, because the destiny was PDL.

As for the english, well..., who am i to say something.i like to write in english to keep me remembered, but i'm very 'esquecida', eheheh

Kathie said...

We've gotten to the point that we travel light enough that we don't need to check luggage anymore, just take one carry-on bag apiece. It makes travel so much simpler, and when our clothes get dirty we can just wash them out by hand and drip-dry them overnight.

It never occurred to me re checked bags. Although, under the circumstances, I'd have been willing to do without mine for a few days -- just living out of my carry-on, in which I'd have packed all my necessities -- in exchange for getting closer to home sooner (where the rest of my possessions would be anyway!).

Neil King said...

I was bewildered why they wouldn't let us out at Terceira and insisted on taking us back to Lisbon but with hindsight I can understand why they did it. From Lisbon, they are able to deploy their full resources in terms of alternative flights, hotel accommodation etc. etc. which would not necessarily be available from Terceira as Marisa says.

They offered to let us off the plane at Terceira but strictly on the basis of no luggage and that we'd be "on our own".

Kathie said...

No carry-on luggage in the plane cabin with a few days' clothing, toiletries, medications you regularly take, etc.? Wow, talk about taking chances with airline baggage handling (I'm too big a coward)! Last three Azores trips, I've had enough in my large carry-on that goes in the overhead compartment to last as long as three weeks with hand-laundering (let alone a few days stranded anywhere) -- plus a small under-seat bag for work-related papers and books, as well as gifts (en route to my destination), purchases (coming home), etc.

The only things I'd put into checked luggage would have to be items that are either replaceable (in case they permanently go astray) or that at minimum are temporarily waylaid so that I could live without them for several days. Of course, after wearing the same few outfits for up to three weeks I get kind of tired of them, but no one else (other than my husband, who was on my most recent trip, or the proprietors of a certain palheiro) would realize I'm repeating them.

I also wonder a bit about the claim that insufficient resources to get you to another island exist on Terceira, as that's not been my experience. It's certainly easy enough to take a cab from Lajes airport into Praia or Angra in order to find accomodations for the night (which is exactly what I managed to do solo for three nights after my delay on Flores in 2002). Of course YMMV :-)