Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

Back to Reality


Well, we made it home. I managed to get onto the plane, but not exactly a stress-free route! I managed to lose my standby ticket, and we had major difficulties getting another ticket re-issued. It involved several contacts to various departments of Bf’s airline, none of whom would take ownership, and would refer us to another department. Eventually someone took pity, and buzzed a few emails around, and we managed to get a ticket written at the airport…

Before we left in the crew bus for the airport, I suggested that I draw some money from the ATM to pay the exit tax at the airport with. Bf said that I may as well draw it from the ATM at the airport, as we didn’t know how much I’d need.

At te airport, Bf had to rush off to prep his flight plan etc. I discovered that I had to pay 530 pesos exit tax, which has to be paid in cash. However the cash point at the airport was out of cash, and I ended up standing in the airport crying to the Mexican official, who was extremely unhelpful. I had credit cards and debit cards, but no cash.

He decided to ‘help’ me with the ATM; because they obviously decided that I was completely stupid, and didn’t know how to work one. After 4 attempts with 4 different cards, he too admitted defeat, and realised that the ATM was empty (at least I had the excuse that I couldn’t read Mexican)!

They suggested that I ring the First Officer (Bf) and get him to leave the aeroplane to come and have a go… I explained that this was quite impossible and also pointless as I had one of our joint account cards any way; and that as he had no cash either-I wasn’t sure what this would achieve… They suggested that he scrounge money from the other crew for me.

So I stood and cried a bit more! I’d have rather stuck pins in my eyes.

I seriously thought I was going to be left in Mexico, as I only had about 40 minutes until the plane was due to depart, and they wouldn’t even allow me to check in without paying the departure tax. I was trying every alternative…

Could I pay with a card? …No…

Would I have time to get a taxi somewhere to another cashpoint? … No…

Was there a bureau de change that I could get money/travellers cheques from? … No…

Finally it was realised that there was another ATM within the airport, so we ran to it, and tried 3 cards, all of which were giving me bogus reasons why it wasn’t working either (wrong PIN, service unavailable, etc, etc). He was on the phone to his superior, and I was at my wits end, and finally, someone upstairs must’ve taken pity on me, because the stupid machine allowed me to witdraw money from my Credit Card.

I managed to pay up, check in, and run through security, just in the nick of time to make the flight! PHEW!!!

Lesson learned… ALWAYS ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE THE EXIT TAX FEE BEFORE ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT WHEN TRAVELLING STANDBY! ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARRIVED IN A CREW BUS WITH MINIMAL TIME TO SPARE!

Even the flight wasn’t seamless. There was a loud bang on take-off, something had malfunctioned with the airconditioning system, and caused some sort of misfire. Luckily they re-set it and it co-operated and they were able to continue. Had this not been the case, we’d have had to turn back apparently. I only found this out after we landed when Bf told me.

What was nice was that I was able to get a seat in row 3 with a spare seat next to me. There were 3 pilots on the way home (regulations due to the fact that the trip wasn’t long enough for them to acclimatise to the time zone changes, and were jet-lagged). So he had a long break after doing the take off, where he was able to come and sit with me! I was so happy that I got to spend some of the flight time with him… Especially as I know he wouldn’t normally sit in the cabin for his rest (he says he can never relax, as he feels the passengers tend to stare at him)…

Well, here I am, back home again, with some beautiful pictures reminding me of what a wonderful time we had. People kept telling me that it I was crazy to go for such a short trip, when it was such a long flight time; but I am SO glad I went.

The only thing that rained on my parade since we returned home is that the airline have rostered him a longhaul flight for Christmas Day! He’s flying to the Caribbean that morning, and leaving on 28th to come back to the UK. So it looks like I’ll either have to spend a large portion of Christmas Day alone with baby (as the boys routinely go to my ex for Christmas afternoon, and the few days afterwards. Also, my family will be at my family home in France)… Or I’ll have to give up the whole of Christmas day with my boys, and book onto the flight with him and baby…

I think if we can, that I’ll try to book onto the flight, celebrate Christmas with the boys on Christmas Eve, and at least not spend Christmas afternoon and evening, and the following days alone being miserable. What a pain! Christmas is the one time of year that this whole random schedule really hacks me off… I would have loved to have spent it at home with my family. This is Baby’s first Christmas, and spending 9-10 hours on a plane with her on my lap, or alone at home, was not the way I had envisaged it.

I’m certainly not prepared to risk the ‘will I or wont I get on the flight’ stress I had last week, because of booking a standby ticket on Christmas Day-unless I have to! I guess I’ll have to pay whatever inflated Christmas price they want to charge me for a confirmed ticket, in order to be with at least some of my family over the festive season.

RATS!

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One Response to “Back to Reality”

  1. I’m so glad that you had a great trip and were able to make it home in the end. At least you managed to learn what NOT to do next time!


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