24 December 2010

Maggie where are you?

Today I left home for my winter vacation. The flight was supposed to connect in Paris because Marseille, even though it's France's second-largest city, has very few useful connections anywhere. It's a provincial airport, like all airports in France except Paris CDG, but unfortunately it has managed to attract very few budget airlines.

Early in the morning Air France sent mail, announcing that the flight is cancelled, thank you for your understanding, pleasy do not reply. What makes them think that I would understand anything? I went to the airport, and KLM got me routed through Amsterdam. KLM, even though it's owned by Air France now, knows how to deal with an emergency.

The emergency being, of course, the usual French blight hurting everyone who wants to get something done. Three days before Christmas the Marseille airport security was on strike, so noone could fly. Riot police got called in. That strike has ended but now workers at the factory that supplies the Paris airport with glycol were on strike, on December 24. Glycol is needed to de-ice airplanes; it's still very cold in Paris. So they cancelled half of all flights from France's central air hub.

Amsterdam is also in the grip of the harsh winter this year, and the airport is seriously busy and affected by the strain the winter is putting on all of northern Europe. But my connection in Schiphol was perfectly punctual. The Dutch know how to run a business.

I like France but I am beginning to lose patience with this dysfunctional country. Mrs Thatcher, where are you when we need you?

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