On Saturday, our ski week in France sadly ended. As all good things do. 😦 We flew back to London from Geneva, Switzerland – which is about an hour’s drive from where we’d stayed in La Clusaz.
Geneva Airport isn’t huge. It feels rather “dated” as well. However, it also has corridors covered with wall ads for the likes of wealth management companies, astronomically expensive watches, Dubai, and stuff George Clooney’s hired to endorse; but before we got to any of that, we were in a mob scene at check-in.
The enormous lines at the desks stretched seemingly almost outside to the passenger drop-off! All of the skiers! All of the package groups!
Arrivals being on another floor, we hadn’t seen anything like that in-bound. We located our check-in on the monitor. Thankfully, we weren’t at those desks, but where were we?
Down a bit, judging by the numbers. We began to pick our way through toward them. It took ages to walk merely feet.
Finally the horde around us began thinning. At last we were in the open. There they were! We found ourselves at the rope line entrance to the sedate British Airways desks. People, yes, but no mob! It was like having reached a safe port in a (snow?) storm.
Before we got to the desks themselves, two local BA women greeted us.
“Bonjour, Monsieur. Do you have liquid in your bag?”
“Bonjour. No, I don’t.” (God, you have no idea how thrilled I am to see you – that was what I really wanted to say.)
After BA check-in, initially Security looked like another chaotic situation. However, as we stood in the long line watching, I thought it was arguably better-handled than in most U.S. airports. One long queue fed about 15 security desks: you were ushered to the next available one, where you dealt calmly with the Swiss officer.
While we had been waiting in the line as it snaked around, I heard a puzzled, American-sounding, young woman question a traveling companion, “They aren’t asking us all to remove our shoes?”
As I think on it now, I don’t even recall if the signage asked us directly to remove our electronics from our carry-ons either. It may have. In any event, you simply did as asked by the Security officer when your turn came.
We get so “acclimated” to expecting “one-way” of doing things, don’t we?
After Security, and then clearing “exit” passport control, we headed to the gate. It was in a “satellite” area that seemed set aside for flights destined for outside of Europe’s “Schengen” single immigration zone. (The U.K. and the Republic of Ireland are not part of that.) Upon reaching it, we grabbed 2 seats in a group of 3.
There were about 5 gates in a semi-circle. Sensing the area was gonna get much fuller, I sat in the middle seat and left the one to my right free. And we were thrilled at discovering the 90 minutes of free wifi!:
At some point, a casually dressed woman in her 30s or 40s appeared and sat down next to me. She seemed to be alone. A few moments later, my wife leaned over to me from my other side and whispered, “You see what she’s reading?”
I glanced over. In her lap, the woman held a book entitled, L’État Islamique, by Samuel Laurent:
She also had another one on Syria (also in French) which I never saw, but my wife spotted. Interestingly, she was also carrying a French-English dictionary.
Airports are fascinating “people places,” aren’t they?
Scanning the gates, we considered the departing airlines. There was our British Airways next to us of course. The one to the opposite side we’d never heard of, didn’t recognize the destination at all, and no country was visible. Then, next to our BA, we noticed “MEA”: Middle East Airlines, with its Cedar of Lebanon symbol unmistakeable on the departure screen.
The screen also indicated that flight was to Beirut. It was due to go off about half an hour before our Heathrow flight. Suddenly, its boarding commenced.
The woman gathered herself together, got up and walked off. I had my suspicions and kept an eye on her. As it turned out I was (perhaps utterly unsurprisingly) right: clutching her not exactly lighthearted reading material, she strolled to that Beirut flight.
Well, time to get back to work. I did get LOTS of inspiration from our trip. My desk awaits.
“Ok, friends, so what are we going to do today?” I’m thinking Béatrice is going to meet someone for the first time unexpectedly. And I suspect they’ll be fireworks…. and not of the, uh, “happy” sort. 😉
Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂