I don’t recall the reasoning, back in February, that convinced us flying through the night would be a sensible course of action. Perhaps those were just connections that worked without us having to part with stupendous amounts of money. Or perhaps we just mistook ourselves for twenty-somethings, well-used to discomfort and inconvenience.
Anyway, that’s what we signed up for, so we had to follow through. As a perennial worrier, our two previous summers of attempted travel aborted by pandemic regulations, I insisted on setting off from home at 5.00pm, straight after work. I also insisted we travel light with hand luggage only to avoid check-in queues. So we arrived at Heathrow just after 6pm and wrestled with the self-service machines until they finally squirted out our boarding passes.
Only then would we join the queue for security, which started close to the terminal drop-off, snaking backwards and forwards all the way to the entry gates. That it took us an hour and a half to clear the x-ray machines is hardly surprising given how few staff seemed to be on duty. But then that was the evening shift.
I didn’t really mind that we then had a two-hour wait to boarding for our late night flight at ten past ten. I felt a sense of achievement at having reached this far. First stop the multi-faith prayer room, where I ended up leading complete strangers for Asr. Next stop, a restaurant about to close for a vegetarian pizza. Then hovering about close to the prayer room again to whizz through Magrib and Isha travel prayers, before our departure gate blinked up on the screen.
All in all, my family seemed grateful they have such a worrisome dad, whose worrying had got us onto the plane with minimal stress. All the more grateful twenty-four hours later, when local Turkish friends who set off at around the same time as us but by different routes reported back on their experiences.
One spent three and a half hours in the check-in queues alone. Another described theirs as the worst journey ever, with three connections and two separate airlines, all of their children’s luggage lost along the way. Sounds like journies we made in the early days when we were more able to withstand difficulties. Twenty years ago, we would travel twenty hours across Turkey by bus; not anymore.
Our own flights: well yes, we too had to ask ourselves what wisdom had put us on that plane in the middle of the night. Being off-peak, it was a narrow body AirBus with hardly any leg room in economy, but it carried us to our destination on time. At Istanbul, we had just enough time to make it to domestic departures to catch our morning flight to Rize, arriving at 7.30am.
I don’t remember the service bus journey on to our home town at all. My daughter tells me I fell asleep, snoring loudly. By the time we made it home, our sleepless night had caught up with me. I managed a tour of our new house, but then I crashed out on the sofa. I don’t remember Thursday at all. These time travels are very strange indeed.