Sunday Column (46)

England got me back!

Yes, I was in Germany for a week and if you followed me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know what happened.

I started my new job with the media optimization company mexad on Monday. On Monday night I was supposed to fly out to Germany with Easyjet from Gatwick Airport at 18.40. They announced the flight at 6 pm as “please wait”, and kept us in the unknown until about 19.40 and announced a gate. To summarize things: more waiting, a bus tour to the plane, waiting next to the plane, a bus tour back, more waiting at the gate, and a cancelled flight. Wow! Not a good start for a new job. Reason for the cancellation was that the pilots were refusing to fly as they were out of hours.

Luckily my new colleague could book me a flight with Easyjet for 7.05 on Tuesday. It costs a few pounds more but secured me a seat. Some people were waiting for several days trying to get home to Germany, and the que in front of me was horrendous. I got a taxi back home, spend a few hours sleeping and headed to Cologne on Tuesday, thinking it will be all good….

Cologne was freezing. Very cold winds, a bit of snow – just like a real winter. I managed to catch up with some of my study friends and overall had a really good time. By the way, the picture is from circa 1950 😉

The job started out well. For me it is a new area within a familiar field, e.g. display advertising and media optimization on ad exchanges. It is very exciting and I am very much looking forward to starting the UK representation for this exciting technology and company.

Now, to summarize the flight back: lucky and stressful! I was booked on the Easyjet flight leaving Cologne at 21.30. However, Easyjet cancelled a few flights from Gatwick on Friday and when I arrived at the airport, their representatives suggested that if I could get another flight, this would surely be better. They haven’t seen any evening flights since last week! We took the decision to book Germanwings last minute to Stansted, leaving at half seven. And, it was the right decision. I rushed to the train from Stansted to Tottenham Hale, then onwards to Victoria, and I caught the last train at 21.22 towards Faversham which stopped at Bromley. Due to the adverse weather conditions, they were operating an emergency time table, so if I had been at Victoria 2 minutes later, I had to walk or get a taxi. How ridiculous is that? No snow, some ice I admit and freezing temperatures. This country is just not prepared to cope with any winter conditions whatsoever!!!!

However, I made it home at last, got a cab from Bromley and arrived just after 22.00. The Easyjet flight, according to their website, left Cologne after all around 23.30, arriving in Gatwick around midnight UK time. With a taxi from Gatwick I could have made it for 1 am, however I don’t believe if I had waited, that things would have gone right. So definitely a wise decision that teaches me that Germanwings will be the airline to fly with in the future despite the Stansted travel annoyance!

Maybe I was panicking that I didn’t make it out of Germany – maybe not. Some flights were still going on Saturday from German airports, but some weren’t. The BBC reported on suggestions from the German government to embrace for a blizzard and to have food for at least four days at home – pictures can be found at Welt.de

Overall an exciting week. I am glad to be back at work, in London, and excited to see what 2010 will bring. I learned a lot about airlines, priorities and weather conditions. And, coming home was nice. Seeing the boy and changing his diapers, feeding him breakfast…what else to wish for.

Have a good week,
Volker