So the morning of our friends' arrival dawned. This will be the first time we have seen Bill and Ruthellen in 32 years. This will be the first time they have been to Portugal. This will be the first time they have flown outside of the Continental US of A.
We awaken to leaden skies and horizontal Algarvean rain. While I am signing on to the ANA Faro Arrivals website, my significant other half is checking her inbox. Yes, an email about our visitors, but not from them. Their son has written to say that their flight from Newark has been delayed for technical reasons.
My validation of the flight times confirms this, as their takeoff was delayed for six hours. Now, thinks I, this is not going to do a lot in facilitating an easy connection in Lisbon, for the final stint to the tropical rain-drenched Algarve.
As we have confirmed online via Newark ATC that their plane is actually airborne, we now verify that there are three further flights from Lisbon to Faro later in the day, so there should be no problem in them getting a connection. A quick check (by attempting to book seats online) shows that the first flight with seats is at 20:30, some eleven hours after they were due to arrive.
The possibility existed, however, that the reason we couldn't see free seats on the earlier 16:30 flight was that the airlines had already allocated those seats to the delayed incoming American flight. Our only real option was to go to the airport in time for the earliest flight, and if necessary, wait.
When we arrived at Faro we went to the TAP desk, explained the dilemma and asked if they could confirm that all connecting passengers who were ticketed through to Faro would be on the next flight, or if not, on which of the two remaining flights. "Not possible" said the TAP representative, as the airlines would not divulge details of the passenger list. Further explanations such as we offered that we were only wanting to know which flight the delinquent voyagers would be on, not the detailed passenger list itself ultimately and surprisingly led to the question of "what is their name?".Our relief turned to amazement after much key-tapping, when we were advised that not only were our friends not booked on the next connecting flight, they were in fact not booked on any TAP flight.
Resigned to the likelihood of a long evening as we would meet each incoming flight - on the hope that our visitors were traveling under assumed names - we were reunited when the first of the possible connections disgorged it's weary occupants, a flight which TAP assured us did not contain our friends.
I wonder who TAP thought was occupying their seats?