A Night of Travel That Lasted Forever — TPG UK Staff Travel Mistake Story

Jul 21, 2019

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While we like to think we’re pretty savvy travellers here at TPG UK, from time to time we all have a travel experience we would rather forget. We will be bringing you some of our team’s personal travel experiences each week — both successes and mistakes.

First up, our UK Director of Content Nicky Kelvin, who tells us of a night he would rather forget:

On a recent trip to Senegal, where TPG UK was supporting the first African-led summit against child marriage and FGM, we booked return flights using Avios on Iberia. Iberia flies to Dakar, so we connected in Madrid.

On the return flights, the timings were savage. The first leg from Dakar to Madrid departed 9:35pm and arrived at 3:40am. I had booked the next leg to London at 8:20am, imagining I would have snoozed on the first leg and had a second rest in the Iberia lounge in Madrid in between flights (I have Oneworld status, so can access the lounge even when flying economy). I would then arrive in London fresh as a daisy and ready for a day’s work.

These things always seem so simple and easy from your computer at home. However, at around four hours, the first flight was not long enough to sleep. Compounding the issue, Iberia flies a short-haul A321 with paper thin seats on the route, so the set up is incredibly uncomfortable in any case.

I arrived in Madrid just before 4am having barely slept, and I managed to find a quiet corner of the lounge. Just as I was dozing off, a cleaner clattered her kit around, turned the bright lights on and shouted at me to wake up and get out. I sheepishly crawled over to a sofa to try and sleep there. She followed me and turned on a TV on full blast right in front of me.

Before I knew it, I had not slept at all and it was time to board the flight to London, where I finally arrived crippling tired and pretty useless to the world.

The learning here is to think long and hard about timings, stops, where you will actually be able to rest and how time differences affect what time your body thinks it is. What was in the back of my mind when booking and what I really should have done was book a cheap airport hotel in Madrid, have a great night’s sleep, and take a slightly later flight to London, where I could have arrived ready to take on the world.

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