x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The joys of the airport run

It's past midnight. People were coming, going, sitting, yawning and anxious. And my flight is delayed. Ah, the airport run.

It was approximately 7pm and I was sitting alone in my apartment. Curtains drawn. Dim lights. The air outside was cool, following a weekend of rain and steady wind; a welcome distraction from the summer heat fast approaching.

My white purse was open on the dining table and I spotted what I needed - my debit card which, with just over a year's ownership, was already slightly faded.

Strange, I thought. What would have made it fade so fast? Blame the water.

I gently took out the green card and placed it carefully next to the purse, a birthday gift from an old friend.

My house phone was also on the table. I stared hard at it, thinking carefully about what I had to say. I needed to make sure my words were clear so as not to leave any room for error. That was a risk I was not prepared to take.

In all the tension, I had momentarily forgotten the number I had to dial. "Damn, this was not part of the plan," I said to myself. I closed my eyes, and began to concentrate. Suddenly, it hit me.

The following night, at exactly 12.20am, I left my apartment and hit Basement Level 2 on the elevator. It was late and no one was around. Just lines of empty cars.

Before long, I found myself on Sheikh Zayed Road heading north.

The journey felt shorter than usual to Dubai International Airport Terminal 3. I made my way into the car park, making a mental note of the time on my ticket and walked towards arrivals.

I looked up at the bright screen and checked the arrival time for the flight I was waiting for. It was delayed. I walked over to a certain "meet and greet" company I bought a service through and asked if there was any news.

"This flight is delayed until around 1am; the airport is busy and they'll probably come from Terminal 1, so it will be well after 2am when they come out."

Not what I wanted to hear midweek. I walked over to the only coffee shop and ordered a latté. I wanted to keep the change for the parking so I handed over the faded card, but the machine had trouble reading it so I exchanged it for the Dh50 I had, knowing the only ATM machine was all the way upstairs in the departures lounge. So I sat and watched people go back and forth while remembering the phone call I had made the night before.

"I would like to book a meet and greet for two passengers. One child and one adult," I requested.

The woman on the other end gave me a total of Dh306.

"The last time at Terminal 2, I only paid Dh153. Why are you charging me double for fewer passengers?" I asked.

She simply said each terminal came with a different price tag for the exact same service.

Frustrated, and with little choice, I told her I would take it.

"Would you like the family package, which is Dh317, or the regular meet and greet, which is Dh306?"

I asked for details about the extra service I would be getting for the family package since it is more expensive."No difference. They are exactly the same," she said.

Right. Of course they are the same. Ah, the airport run. Good times.