Egypt exceeds expectations. And expectations were high.
The only snag so far on this trip has nothing to do with the country, just one of those things that can happen when travelling. On route here the plane from Cairo to Sharm el Sheik was delayed because of a sandstorm. The delay ended up being 12 hours, a lovely time spent in the waiting area by the gate.
My family and I were not greatly bothered. It sucked since we did not intend to vacation in an airport, but so do countless other things in life. When we had been there about eight hours it even became fun. Not because of the great ambiance, courtesy of the plastic benches, but because of a group of passengers that became highly agitated by the whole situation. They formed a revolt group that I managed to follow closely since their meetings were held in the adjoining smoking room – blissfully situated next to our gate. A social study of sorts.
These people were severely pissed. But at the same time pretty ridiculous. Sometimes it makes sense to take a stand, sometimes such efforts are a complete waste of time. The airport staff we had access to were not to blame, nor were they in any sort of authority to take charge and hire a plane to save us from our predicament once it became clear that the sandstorm was no longer and the wait was for a rested flight crew.
At first when things were just beginning to get heated, there actually was a sandstorm. Someone with connections to a pilot within the resistance movement managed to google some site where visibility figures for airports were listed. Our planned airport of landing had 5000 somethings when 8000 somethings were needed. At this point the revolters wanted the airport manager to come and apologise, although his connection to the sandstorm hundreds of miles away was unclear. They also wanted blankets, pillows and tea, something I think would have added to the refugee camp feeling in the waiting room. Instead we got pizza and coke.
One of the things that seemed most upsetting to the huddled bunch was that they believed they were not getting respect. I never managed to realise who exactly was disrespecting them but considering the frequent references to Star Alliance maybe they believed this organisation or company had something to do with us not flying.
At one ridiculous moment they even phoned the police and wanted them to come and arrest the airline employees. Now that would certainly have helped the situation greatly. What they ended up getting was two guys from airport security that arrested no one but did a lot of head shaking over the whole situation. Without being sure I think airport security guys are a mere step up from mall cop, so you can imagine the disappointment to the rebels when they arrived. To give the airport cops justice they did hand out some papers for the rebels to fill out and for a while it was quieter while they struggled to fill out the paperwork - which I am almost certain ended in someone‘s shredder. Maybe one belonging to Star Alliance.
But it was not only amusing in the smoking room. The waiting room had its moments as well. At one point in the middle of the night in of the women thought she saw a mouse and became hysterical. The mouse magically disappeared when everyone started looking, so the incident is chalked down to a unverified mouse sighting brought on by depression and boredom.
Another passenger, a man that took the whole thing in stride and seemed pretty reasonable tried to rally up a war cry for coffee and ended up standing in the middle of the waiting room yelling “Coffee! Coffee!” all by himself. No one took the bait and yelled with him which had probably been his plan. I really wanted coffee as well but the scene was just so perfect as a solo performance that I did not want to ruin it by joining in.
Back to the resistance. At their most cheesy moment one of its members actually said “And what about the children?” And here I was thinking that this particular alignment of words was only used sarcastically or as a joke. But these guys were not joking. They became quite agitated about the welfare of the young and stranded. However, if they had paid any attention to the passengers they believed themselves to be representing they would have seen that the children amongst them were the calmest and coolest of the whole bunch. Aside from me and my family.
One has to enjoy life. Every moment you can. A minute past is a minute that you will not reclaim for better use. And most situations offer up something one would not liked to have missed anyway – aside from bureaucracy related stuff and the dentist.