I checked the seat pocket for the millionth time. I had the vague feeling that not as many items had come out as had been put in, but I could only feel the inflight magazine and duty free guide which belonged there. I’d retreived my phone, my sweets, my copy of Collective Hub Magazine. There was nothing else was there?
I departed the flight and followed the signs for connecting flights at Abu Dhabi airport. Going through security was a testing process. They were not open when our flight arrived from Sydney and when the staff did arrive they decided to open just one lane when our full flight had been told to form 2 queues. As each new person inched to the front a tussle over whose line was next would ensue – neither line being happy with their progress. The man behind me was practically riding my coattails; he clearly was not impressed with my British reserve. Finally, though, I made it through. My hand luggage went through the machine, I walked through the body scanner and not once did the guard look up from his iPhone.
Once in the departures hall on the other side I began to scope out a seat near a power point. There were sockets on the plane but having put my luggage in the overhead locker and being in a window seat next to a sleeping passenger there was no way I could get my cables out. I sat down to charge my phone and felt a sudden urge to recheck the contents of my bag. Passport, notebook, snacks… Didn’t I used to own a Kindle?
I’m a big proponent of the printed book. I love flicking the pages, the smell of new binding and putting the completed tome on my bookshelf for revisiting later. But when it comes to travelling I always pack my Kindle. I’d loaded it up with enough stories to get through flights to Australia and back and in particular had saved a copy of Frances M Thompson’s London Eyes: Short Stories especially for this journey. Except I had slept for most of the first flight and then left the plane without it.
I had about 2 hours until my next flight so decided to try and reclaim it. I went first to the information desk who recommended I visit the transfer desk. The transfer desk said I would have better luck at the new connections desk, but it was on the other side of security. Reluctantly, I took their advice and headed back the way I came.
At the new connections desk, the first desk passengers see when they come off a plane, the lady tried to take my passport and print me a new boarding pass. She was on the phone at the time so I awkwardly explained I had a boarding pass and it was a missing Kindle I was after. After a confused conversation about what a Kindle was she put down the phone and started to look into it. She explained that the cleaners often find lost items and take them to another desk in the airport but as I had an onward flight she would ring them and try and get it bought here instead. She took my old boarding pass and read out my seat number to a team member on the plane. They had found a tablet she said, but it wasn’t in my seat. I was advised to stay put, in the pre-security limbo land, until further news came through.
The next hour passed tensely with no further updates. The boarding time for my next flight was upon us but the ground team seemed unconcerned about timing. Something was on its way to me here, they said, if I could just stay put.
Time ticked away and I could wait no longer. The team had tried their best but I decided my onward flight was more important. They had one more idea though. A staff member was assigned to take me back through security (we jumped the queue and I passed the same man on his phone again) and he whisked me to the gate my previous flight had landed in. Calls were made to the aircraft. Someone is on his way, he said.
By this time my flight to London was supposed to be boarding. Have a seat, said the new man assigned to me, I think your Kindle is coming.
Sensing my unease the man chatted to me kindly. He pointed out the new airport they have begun building at Abu Dhabi and told me about what would be coming (lots of tax free shopping apparently). I apologised for the inconvenience my forgetfulness had caused. He said, don’t worry, at least you remembered your passport. He told me last week a man walked off the plane without his whole bag. I felt a little better after that.
With just minutes to spare before my second flight was due to depart a cleaner casually appeared at the gate before us. In his hands he had not one but 2 tablets. I pressed the on button on the first one he proffered, London Eyes opened before me.
It’s mine, I squealed and thanked him profusely. A form was signed, my goods handed over and I ran to my new flight’s gate, which was now definitely boarding. I was dying for a drink, could have done with using the toilet but at least I had back my stories.
I read my Kindle for several hours on the next leg of the journey, the enjoyment enhanced because of those few hours I’d been without it.
It wasn’t the most relaxing flight connection I’ve ever experienced, but all turned out well in the end. If anyone from Etihad Abu Dhabi ground staff reads this thanks very much to all of you.
Have you ever left something on a plane, train or automobile? Were you able to get it back?
Ps Frankie I love your London Eyes: Short Stories! A full review will follow shortly.