It had to happen at some point – delays to Ryanair flights. Considering how often I fly with them, it’s a miracle I am not delayed more often. Anyway, Saturday morning most of northern Europe was covered with fog and the incoming aircraft that would then take me to Altenburg was delayed by 3 hours. But, typically, it made for a good story that involves a video mobile phone, and a pleasant German couple.
The plan was to take the 09.40 plane from Stansted to Altenburg on Saturday 8th October, and take the train on from there to Chemnitz and the JEF-Germany Congress in the castle at Augustusburg. The problems with fog meant that initially we were told the delay would be 50 minutes. This then climbed to 90 minutes, then 2 hours, then 3 hours. With such a delay there was absolutely no way I was going to get to Augustusburg on time to deliver my ‘grusswort’ at the Congress.
When stuck in an airport, quite a solidarity develops among the passengers. I was lucky enough to get chatting to a man who had been at a language course in Cambridge. He happened to live in Chemnitz and said that his wife was coming to pick him up at the airport, and would I like a lift with them? 40 minutes by car rather than 1 hour and 40 minutes by train seemed like a good idea to me!
But what about the speech? Even with the lift in a car from Altenburg to Chemnitz, I would still be a few hours late. Further, as the announcements continued to list ever longer delays, we wondered if we would leave at all.
Enter the technological solution… Take a K750i mobile phone from Sony Ericsson, and set the video mode to best quality and unlimited maximum time. The video is less than 200 pixels wide, but the quality is not too bad. Fellow passengers were completely bemused as in the middle of the airport departures I delivered a quick speech about federalism in poor German into a mobile phone!
The next step was to transfer the film to my Powerbook G4 via Bluetooth, and edit the film using iMovie. The movie was just about ready to upload to the internet using the T-Mobile wireless LAN at Stansted Airport when the plane finally arrived… The next steps would have been for the congress organisers to download the movie and project it to the audience at the Congress. You can download the movie by clicking here – it’s 2.4mb, QuickTime format.
Altenburg is a remarkable airport – bumpy, short concrete runway, and a miniscule terminal. Plus hangers for the flight club planes that have earth roofs. Looks like it used to be some kind of air force base. I was then given the lift to Chemnitz as promised, and was able to deliver the ‘grusswort’ about 2 hours later than planned…
So, the next time you are stuck somewhere with a phone and laptop, you know what to do!