Here’s my train of thought…
You know how they say people in Paris are really rude?
I’m here to tell you that all of the mean people “they” say live in Paris actually live in Charleroi.
(Sorry, Charleroi. Maybe you tried. Maybe this was an isolated incident. But it happened, so…)
Charleroi is a city in Belgium, fairly close to Brussels. One reason you might go there is that it is home to a small airport that hosts all of the cheap airlines.
Really, that’s the first warning sign. The airports that host all the cheap airlines are never awesome. Because it never pays to be broke. Or something. Was that deep? It’s the best I’ve got right now.
Anyway, that’s where we were heading after our trip to Belgium for New Year’s. We had to get up ridiculously early for our flight, because the train ride to get there was quite lengthy. But we were on top of it. We gave ourselves plenty of time. No problem.
SIDENOTE: Do I ever say “no problem” on this blog and not immediately discuss a problem? I’m so predictable. I’ll try to mix it up for my last 98 posts…
But it was a very cold winter in Belgium that year, so about halfway through our train journey, our train just stopped. I thought maybe we were changing tracks or waiting for a different train to pass us or something, so I didn’t panic. But after 15 minutes or so had gone by, my mom and I started to wonder. Eventually we were notified that the tracks were frozen.
After over 30 minutes stopped on the tracks, we had no longer left ourselves enough time to get to the airport when we needed to. You see, the other joy of cheap airlines is they put all sorts of insane deadlines and rules on you. Like you have to check your bag like, two hours before your flight or you can’t check it at all. What the hell is that, right?
By the time we got to the airport, I believe we had something like 45 minutes until our flight was meant to take off. It’s not bad in the real, normal world, but at Charleroi, we were way late.
SIDENOTE: I’ve chosen to skip over how horribly rude everyone at the train station in Charleroi was to us. Because I’m still mad about it and don’t want to get worked up. Also, I’m writing this at work, and that’s not cool.
We hurried up to our check-in desk to see if they would still take our bags and let us on the flight.
“What do you want?” The lady at the desk was super nice.
“Our flight is at _____ and we got stuck on the train. Can we still check our bags? Is there any way?”
She looked at us for a few seconds.
And then she started laughing in our face.
And then she called over a co-worker, and – in French – told him “these idiots think they’re getting on flight ____!”
And then they both laughed at us.
“No, you’re way too late to get on that flight.” She scoffed.
“But it doesn’t take off for 45 minutes.”
“That’s too bad – you missed the time. You’ll need to come back in two or three days when the next flight to Glasgow takes place.”
SIDENOTE: Another joy of cheap-o airlines – very infrequent flights.
“Are you being serious? Our flight is still here. We haven’t missed it.”
“You’re too late!” She laughed.
Look, I could delve into my feelings about this, but sometimes I worry that I swear too much. So I’m going to leave it there.
We had to get the train back into Brussels and book a flight home with a different airline.
We eventually got home.
I will never forget the lesson I learned, though, because that shit is permanent: The bitches are at Charleroi airport.
P.S. Lovely people from Charleroi, I apologize to you on behalf of your horrendous airport staff (and the horrendous people at your train station, too). Because I’m an overly nice Canadian.