I’ve arrived and will write more tomorrow but my day’s notes are thus:

You will know that Schipol is a large airport. I’m fairly sure that I read somewhere that it was the biggest in the world – but I don’t have the means to check right now (let me know won’t you?). The first time Sharon and I came here was in December 2001 and we were passing through at a rate of knots due to a delayed flight from Manchester. We had to run like the wind to catch our flight to Oman – which we just made, but which our luggage didn’t! (which is also part of todays stress – this wasn’t the first KLM horror story).  On our way back (by now it was January 2002) we were more taken with spending our ‘new’ Euros (which had replaced individual European currencies that month), to spend time looking around.

Now I’m back here and I’m worn out. I have 2.5 hours between flights but my connection to Riga is at the very opposite side of the airport to my arrival point. Having found my departure point, I had to walk up and down the corridor (35 gates – mine was No. 31) to keep checking that the gate hadn’t changed (it did – it moved to 35). The information screens seem to be at the centre of the hub, but nowhere to be seen on the spokes themselves. Then, having decided that I would just sit at the gate with a sandwich and a coffee – I had to go right back to the hub because the spoke-end coffee house had no coffee!!

All of this was after what was to me a completely new (well, new inasmuch as it hasn’t happened for about 15 years) procedure.

We are now so used to booking-in online that only being able to do so for my first flight was disconcerting, to be told upon arrival here in Amsterdam (twice – by KLM and AN Other) that ‘we cannot book you onto that flight’ was doubly disconcerting. I was told I had two options: leave the ‘safe area’ and book back in, as if entering from Holland (er – no thank you) or to go to the gate and let the crew book me in. This seemed the least scary of the two options, not leaving much room for manoeuvre. But – now it is clear to me that this is the done thing with Air Baltic.
I have now got a boarding card, having seen that gate 31 has a desk and that exactly one hour before the flight, this desk becomes manned (well, womanned). Well that’s ok – but why don’t e-Bookers know that? And why doesn’t KLM, the initiating flight carrier, know that either? After all – the booked my luggage straight through and it would have been far less stressful to know that booking in at the gate was normal. (more when I’m less tired)