I was scheduled to fly out of Manchester Airport on the 18th of December with the Cyprus Airways flight CY 507 to Paphos. The flight was scheduled for 11:10 AM, BST.
Being on time is crucial for this flight. Being just 15 minutes late, the queue fills up with students carrying 10 suitcases each, causing a menace in the check-in desk. So I woke up at 6, adjusting for the not so favorable weather conditions. The previous night was snowing quite heavily.
I opted to drive to the Airport, as I figured trains would have significant delays I cannot directly control due to the strange weather conditions. The roads were clean enough, however, the salt on the road in combination with light rain sometimes made it difficult to drive behind trucks. As the 3rd lane of the highway was still closed from the snow, overtaking was kinda tricky, but we survived that.
On my way to the airport, I was listening to BBC Manchester for any road incidents updates. The reporter said that the M6 highway was closed from Junction 30, and passengers had to sleep in their cars during the night. Apparently the heavy snow made it impossible for them to move, and they’ve got stranded in their cars. Hopefully, my exit was just 2 miles before this whole mess. The remainder of the car journey was mostly uneventful, with just a bit of snow on the way. Of course, caution was advised, as the roads were still icy and couldn’t drive with more than 50-60 mph. My luck has just started working its thing.
At the airport terminal was already a mess. Huge queues, long delays. I used my executive club membership to bypass the queues for my flight, so I just spent less than 20 minutes waiting for check-in. However, I still witnessed the stupidness of Cypriots, trying to carry their whole wardrobe back to Cyprus. Not only that, they are unforgivably rude about that as well. But thats a subject of another blog post.
After purchasing some last-minute gifts, I headed for the gate. Just minutes before the previous flight coming from Cyprus, the airport closed for incoming flights due to bad weather. It snowed for 15-20 minutes, enough to divert 2 inbound flights to neighbouring airports. Luckily, the Cyprus Airways flight just made it through!
Before boarding time, it started snowing heavily again. The airport personell told us that if this continuously for another 20-30 minutes, the flight would be cancelled. And when she said that, it just stopped snowing.
When it was time to board, the lady first called the back rows. A few smart-pants Cypriots, sitting in the front rows, tried to board the plain. The airport personell told them 3 times to back-off and let passengers sitting at the back go onboard first. Of course, demonstrating our national stupidity, they did not comply, forcing her to tell them “You are boarding the plane last”. And she did not let them to board the plane, until everyone else was boarded. Funny and childish, but I guess it pissed them off to the necessary degree.
Just after sitting in the plane, the pilot announced that due to delays in the airport, 40 of the passengers did not make it in time through security, and we had to wait for them. It took them about an hour to get back in the plane. However, waiting for an hour for them to get to the gate, meant that the plane has frozen in the sub-zero temperatures. We had to wait for the airport personnel to spray anti-freeze on the plane, so it can take-off.
We had to wait for over 2 hours for the crew to spray our plane, and the waiting time was killing us. It could start snowing again while we were waiting, or for the crew to run-over their allowed work time. As IATA forces a limit on how much time a crew can work, and we were rapidly closing that limit.
Hopefully, we got sprayed, and we were on our way back home. After a 3-hour delay, we were on our way.
About half an hour before the plane was to land to Paphos airport, the captain made an announcement that the plane would instead land to Larnaca airport. The reason was because too many planes of Cyprus Airways were trapped in foreign airports due to adverse weather conditions, and they needed the plane in Larnaca for the next flight to go on.
Some Paphians tried to take-over the plane, yelling and making a fuss about the development, and blaming the captain. Once again, the Cypriot spirit was flourishing, when everyone should be thanking the crew for not just saying “we are not flying, our hours are up”. During the panic, I also heard some lovely questions from some of the passengers: “Would our bags go to Paphos or to Larnaca?”. Aw well. For me landing in Larnaca meant that I would save 1 hour more of driving, so it was a win-win situation.
The author would sincerely like to thank the Cyprus Airways crew on that flight from Manchester for making everything possible to get us back home safely. This means one thing for Cyprus Airways: the employees are doing their best to keep the company going – its the politically-driven management that messes things up badly.