The Fraught Connection, Flying from Tenerife to Asturias via Madrid

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,

There’s only one thing worse than when your aeroplane lands late and your connecting flight has already departed. And that’s when your plane lands late and there’s a teensy weensy glimmer of hope that you might still make it. This is just the travel gods messing with you.

I had a feeling that the woman across the aisle was going to cause me a problem, I just didn’t know how…until the plane landed at Madrid airport and she had her suitcase out of the locker and blocking my row of seats before I had my seatbelt open.

There had only been fifty five minutes between flights, so any delay at all was going to put my making the second stage of my journey to Asturias in jeopardy. As it was the plane from Tenerife had landed 25 minutes late.

The woman, who had placed her suitcase strategically blocking me so that her aged and not very mobile parents could get out before me, added 10 minutes to the time it took me to get off the damn plane – there was much huffing, puffing and muttering going on from me as we crawled our way to the exit.

I eventually emerged into Barajas airport at 3.37pm. The connecting flight to Asturias and Turismoas was due to depart at 3.55pm.

At first I thought the gods had let me off the hook. The departure gate for Asturias was 41 and the Tenerife flight had arrived at gate 40. But any feeling of hope was soon cruelly dashed. The gate next to the one I’d arrived at was 42, the gate opposite was 43 but 41 was absolutely nowhere to be seen. I did a couple of frantic circuits of the area, looking for anyone that seemed remotely connected with the airport, as my mind refused to accept that there was no gate 41. Then I caught site of a monitor and realisation dawned. Madrid airport is so dammed big it had at least two sets of gates numbered in the forties. The one I was after was at the other end of the airport.

At that point it was time to slip into Jason Bourne mode (from the outside it might look like a geek panicking, but on the inside it’s Jason Bourne). A quick check of the monitor to confirm, a glance at the signs and I was off and running.

A sign very helpfully told me it was 12 minutes (do the maths) to the J zone. Actually what it really said was ’12 minutes and you’ve no chance mate’.

It was 24C in Madrid and as I negotiated an endless series of Escher-esque escalators at speed wearing the heaviest jacket I own, I cursed the fact that I had actually paid any attention to the idiot on TripAdvisor who had spent 15 minutes in Asturias and declared it be cold and wet and sunless between September and May.

One escalator descended to a waiting train about to depart for J zone, now 7 minutes away, and my last remaining hope. But in between me and it’s gaping doors was a row of people blocking the stairs. At the bottom, causing the blockage, was the woman who’d slowed me down exiting the plane. This was no time for politeness so murmuring ‘permiso, permiso, permiso’ I barged my way through the mob, past the woman and onto the platform as the doors hissed their intention to shut.

I jumped through them a second before they slid closed, leaving the annoyingly doddering woman back on the platform. The train took forever before we reached J zone (how big can an airport be?) and another obstacle; I had to go through security to get to the gate. Just to slow me down further the female guard insisted that I remove my netbook from its bag, losing me more vital seconds.

With hope all but dashed, I sprinted the final few yards to the empty departure lounge at gate J41…empty apart from a member of airline staff behind the desk.

‘Señor Montgomery?’ she asked before adding one delicious and very, very welcome word when I nodded. ‘Adelante.’

The travel gods had really had their fun with me but I didn’t care as I collapsed into my seat; I’d beaten them and made the flight against all the odds. But as we taxied across the runway a thought occurred to me. I must have broken some sort of record for getting from one side of Madrid airport to the other; the chances of my luggage doing the same were almost non-existent.

As we took off into the blue, blue sky I was sure I could hear the travel gods chuckling with glee.

  1. This is so funny reminds me of when we had 1.30 to get to our connecting flight Washington-LHR. Obama (yes really) was coming into New Orleans so all flights were delayed by an hour. As we collapsed into the departure lounge the FA said I hope you are as lucky with your luggage. Fortunately we were so hopefully you been a good boy and Big G smiles on you too.

    • dragojac says:

      Luggage didn’t turn up till 1.15am. Luckily I was still working – and no, that’s not code for being in the bar (not this time).

      Still, Iberia gave me a toiletries bag with shaving and dental kit and a T-shirt as compensation, so I wasn’t too grubby.

  2. Travel light is the answer! :=) Nice story, though. Brings back some memories, the most romantic being in Cologne many moons ago, when my German boyfriend rushed out onto the tarmac with me and we kissed goodbye at the foot of the steps……just like in the movies……could you imagine that happening now??

    • dragojac says:

      That is so the stuff of classic old movies. Travelling light is good in theory, but having to carry laptop, camera equipment, a zillion cables and battery chargers and the kitchen sink (just in case) made it all but impossible.

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