Packing and unpacking

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December 15th 2018
Published: December 15th 2018
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Cancun - Paris - Birmingham

We will be flying home this evening. Our first job is to visit the supermarket for some plane munchies...they never give you enough to eat on those long hauls - especially for someone like me that rarely manages to sleep! We also pick up some last minute presents. No one over the age of ten need get excited as we haven’t bought much. We are just about on the line with our 23kg allowance so there’s not much room for manoeuvre...other than sticking it in hand luggage which can easily cope with another 12 kilos! We just hate having to carry all that stuff around in airports, especially as we have to change planes in Paris.

So now to pack our bags. Everything has gone in, with room to spare - we must have done something wrong? What have we forgotten? We scour the room but everything is in. I can only guess that we got a bit untidy over the weeks and now that we have entirely repacked, everything is fitting in better. We have also dumped a few of our old clothes. Ian has been using two of his old dive t shirts for sleeping and they have finally been relegated to the dustbin...only another twenty or so each to wear out!

Ian gets the portable travel scales out - his bag is 21kg, good going...but mine is 25kg. So that’s our joint allowance exactly. We decide that the travel books (both extremely heavy) will have to come out at the airport if there is any quibble. As I say, our hand luggage is well underweight!

Now Ian is telling me that we are a torch missing. Torches cannot go into main luggage because of the batteries. What a pain! I’m sure I didn’t pack one, maybe we have lost it somewhere? Now we have to completely empty the bags to check! I helpfully suggest that Ian does his first (as I am sure it’s not in mine). The deed is done and Ian is adamant he hasn’t got it. Yes he has checked through everything! So now to mine. A complete unpack opening every bag just to make sure reveals nothing. I guess we must have lost it then?

Now to hand luggage. I cannot find my empty spectacle case. I will need it because I will want to take my glasses off during the overnight flight and I want somewhere safe to store them. Again, I am sure I haven’t packed it! Ian says he knows exactly where it is...he has packed it and it’s in the bottom of his bag. Grumpily he delves to the bottom and produces said case. Well, why was he packing my stuff in the first place? And guess what? There’s a torch inside it! Oh well, that’s a problem solved then! I really don’t want to have to open up all my luggage at the airport to remove suspicious items!

It’s almost noon and hotel kick out time. We take our luggage down to the storage room and head for the pool. Four hours of swimming and lounging will be perfect till it’s time to go.

It’s 3.30pm and time to walk the four blocks up to the ADO bus station. It only takes ten minutes but always best to add in some contingency. It’s a pretty hot and cloudless day with a massive amount of wind. Unbelievably, the ticket touts are still trying to sell us a tour to Chichen Itza despite the fact that they can see we are loaded with luggage!

At the bus station we have the usual thing with an officious security guard who does not want to let us on to the airport bus. Apparently they are cleaning it. An impatient American is rolling his eyes and making ‘he is mad’ gestures to his friend - he also wants to board the same bus. I can see that the driver isn’t in his seat and the buses here have been meticulously cleaned throughout our trip so I am happy to wait. If the driver returns I might be a bit more twitchy however!

All is well, we are boarding the bus and the driver has confirmed he is going to Terminal 4. Our tickets say terminal 2 but this is a new terminal so they probably haven’t got round to changing the print yet! Thirty minutes later and we have reached our stop. It’s just us and the American getting off here so I guess we were lucky to be first drop off.

We have already checked in online and the hotel have printed our tickets so we can skip part one of the process - the self service ticket printing. I had been expecting a right bun fight here - after all it is The country’s second busiest airport after Mexico City! Instead there are orderly check in lines. We have only been in the queue a couple of minutes when a lady from the airline approaches us and checks our print outs. They are fine and, since we have the tickets, we can skip the check in line and go straight to baggage drop - there are just two people in front of us.

Our bags go on the scales and we are 0.3kg overweight. The woman in front had to unpack her bag to remove her coat but maybe hers was more overweight as they are letting ours go unchallenged. Now for departures. Normally this means a pat down search for me as my metal hip always sets the alarm bells squealing. Nothing. That’s probably another machine that’s not working then?

We clear security and wander around duty free. Due to the cancelled dive trip, the cancelled glass bottom boat trip and the cancelled ferry and golf cart trip to the island, we have quite a few pesos left! To be honest, there is nothing of any interest - it’s all stuff that we could buy for an nth of the price in the UK, without having the hassle of carting it around...if you discount the super hot Mexican sauces of course!

Our plane is supposed to be on time but they don’t start boarding until 20 minutes before departure time so that’s not going to happen then. We are in boarding zone 5, ie the last zone. So of course, when we get on all the overhead lockers are stuffed full of the suitcases that people insist on bringing on as hand luggage! There have not been any stringent checks on hand luggage so it seems to be a free for all.

What can I say about Air France except, don’t fly with them if you can possibly avoid it! The legroom is practically non existent - yes, even worse that British Airways! And whoever designed their ‘new style cabin’ deserves to be shot! They have reduced the size of the TV screen (not that it matters to us as nearly everything is in French) and added the controller to the back of the headrest. This means that the person behind me is thumping the back of my headrest for the entire 9 hour flight! Presumably they are playing a game on the screen which requires constant button pressing? Meanwhile the woman in front has decided she wants to sleep straight away and reclines her seat the moment the wheels leave the ground. I’m sure you are supposed to wait but since the crew are all seated she does it anyway. I am pinned in position until breakfast time.

Now to the in-flight food - pretty poor to say the least. The evening meal isn’t too bad but it’s tiny and we get a thimble full of orange juice to wash it down. Breakfast is worse. Our promised ‘hot breakfast’ is a yoghurt, a stale bread roll and a small fairy cake. Coffee comes black only and tastes terrible. All in all, a very uncomfortable flight! On the plus side we do land 10 minutes early.

Having landed, our transfer flight is in the same terminal - we just didn’t realise the size of the terminal! Everything is very slick though...we take a monorail from one end to the other. Now we have another security check which is very strict. The machines are definitely working here and my hip has set them off so I am subject to the usual pat down searches.

Our connecting flight is with an Air France budget airline so we were not expecting anything great. In fact the seats here are more comfortable than the long haul. Obviously this is not the refurbished cabin! No TVs here but nice wide seats and much more leg room - fine for a one hour flight back to Brum!

We descend through the grey clouds and disembark at Elmdon Airport. It’s is raining hard and there’s an icy wind. Welcome back?


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