Belgium

What do you do when you miss a flight?

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Brussels Charleroi train station.

Brussels Charleroi train station.

It’s costly to miss a flight, any flight. It’s more costly to miss a flight in the summer.

Everyone in Europe is going somewhere..the inter-European flights are jam-packed, the ones that have a few empty seats are going for 188 euros, 195 euros, 245 euros and so forth. These are flights that just a few weeks ago sold at 24 euros, 48 euros, 65 euros, 119 euros. Ouch..big big difference.

I’ve got to think fast. The guy over the counter states that a new flight to my European destination will go at 110 euros a person, but it has to be booked within the hour of the missed flight. A completely new flight to another destination within Europe will cost 250 euros per person, meaning 500 euros for the two of us.

I decide to do neither, and go to the nearest Internet cafe booth and begin to: a) Research new flights at b) a later date?

The flight to Pula, Croatia two weeks later is a good pick, going down to a price of 65 euros per person. I feel accomplished when I book and rapidly begin to cancel the hotels, couch surfings, hostels, airbnb’s and so forth across the Balkans. I write a couple of mails to hosts. I have to begin afresh.

Missing a flight means many things. Firstly, you need to book a hotel room pronto. It also means that the hotel may not be to your taste or liking; since it hasn’t been pondered over, distances to and from it haven’t been meticulously calculated, you haven’t bothered to examine each review painstakingly..and being summer, it’s probably the only one you’ve got. It may be a seedy hotel in a not-so quiet location.

“There’s only one room left,” the young lad at the hotel reception declares, as soon as I get off the taxi. “Smoking,” he continues, “It’s a smoking room.”

”Β What does that mean?”

“It means one can’t smoke on the corridor, but can smoke in the rooms…so the room will probably smell of smoke.”

Ah, okay,” I say.

We have no choice, we are in Brussels Charleroi, have missed the flight and this is all we have.

“The rooms have no toilets” he adds.
“What?” I ask in surprise.
“The toilets and showers are outside, they are shared with the people on your floor.

Toilet and shower stalls

Toilet and shower stalls

When I get to the toilet stall, I can’t breathe, a pungent smell wafts around and the tiled floor seems a little bit wet. There’s no way I can sit on those loos reminiscent of the public City Council toilets back home. I cover my nose with my shirt as I semi-squat in mid-air. After settling in the room with my daughter, we struggle to fall asleep, not being able to cover up completely as the blanket smells strongly of cigarette smoke.

I’m awoken up at 3am by the sound of loud guffaws of laughter on the street below my hotel. Some guys have stopped their car in the middle of the road, and are having a conversation.

Missing a flight may on the other hand be laden with opportunity. You can get to explore the city you are stuck in..so for a couple of days, we explore Brussels.

Have you ever missed a flight and what did you do?

 

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