The Art of Indulging
January 29, 2013
Many of us know what we’re signing up for when we begin a relationship with a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, we know that HM comes first most of the time, we know that there are likely to be long periods apart but we also know that there are good points about this tripartite agreement, parties at the mess, Armed Forces discounts, the annual spanking that is Army v Navy to name a few. But there still seem to be a few secrets; one of which I unearthed this week – The Indulgence Flight.
I’ve been married 6 months now and husband has been away for 4 of them so when he said he’d booked me on an ‘indulgence flight’ I was beyond excited, it sounded too good to be true, a flight to the Falkland Islands for far less than the cost of a week in the Costa del Sol. Nobody mentioned that this process is actually an exercise in emotional strength and detective research.
Many years ago I studied Communication Studies and Sociology at university and if I’m being honest, neither are that hard and yet the team behind the indulgence flight process seem to have missed out on any such skills, how to share information or to understand people. The whole experience left me with a little voice in my head saying ‘if only someone had told me this beforehand.’ So once returned I decided to right this wrong (or write this wrong) and with a little help from Charlie I’m hoping to help a few others.
So, herewith, my list of things to know when attempting to Indulge:
The booking process for your other half will not be easy, they will have to seek out the right people and meet all requests promptly and comprehensively. It doesn’t matter if he is on a ship thousands of miles away from the booking office, they still want the document signed and hand delivered.
You may or may not receive confirmation of your request. Departure -2 days and I still hadn’t heard anything. I called Brize Norton who firstly told me I had no booking and then found me hiding on a waiting list. Other passengers had wrong names or contact details.
Booking can be confirmed by some unidentified Corporal via a crackly voicemail with no return phone number.
You are not definitely booked on the flight until all military personnel have checked in on along with their luggage.
Don’t try asking about how many spaces on the flight, its done on weight. (one passenger I spoke to was allowed 60kgs of luggage so I suggest you don’t even try and estimate this either)
There is limited car parking at Brize Norton, this must be booked well in advance and to do that you need you reference number. The one you probably won’t get until a day or so before.
If you ask the right person at Brize Norton they can recommend a taxi firm that does off site parking. I’m going to throw caution to the wind and tell you now. Its called Charlie’s Taxis in Carterton, it’s a little basic but it does the job.
The price of the flight varies on location and can be significantly different outbound and inbound. The first I was told of the price was as I handed over my passport.
Your boarding pass will only be given to you once all military personnel are through to the departure gate. Then its all systems go!
The flight may be run by an independent company, old basic planes but no worse than any budget airline.
The inflight entertainment is administered by issuing you with an ipad which was a pleasant surprise.
The food on board is pretty bad, I suggest taking a few extra supplies. To give an example, I was half way through a beige warm mushy roll before I realised that it was a breakfast burrito and that I was just at the hash brown end.
There is no alcohol allowed on the flight.
The usual rules for travelling with liquids don’t apply.
My flight wasn’t full, its always worth having a look at the back of the plane to see if there’s more space back there rather than being cramped into a block of 4.
The following only applies to Brize Norton to Falkland Islands via Ascension but I’m on a roll now so why stop.
You will have a stop off of about 90 minutes at the Ascension Islands. This isn’t so much a transit lounge as more of a cage or pen, but it’s a warm island and they serve ice-cream so there are worse cages to hang out in.
You will need the address of where you’re staying whilst visiting FI. ‘with my husband’ or ‘at Mount Pleasant’ doesn’t really cut the mustard.
On departure there is apparently a £22 tax, not that anyone asked me for it.
This is probably the most important one… to pay for the return fare the office will only take cash or cheque, no such mod cons as debit cards here. No, there’s no ATM in the airport, the nearest is the post office on base or the NAAFI 5 minutes drive away might be able to do a small amount of cash back.
So there you have it fellow MOD dependents, as you can probably tell I was somewhat traumatised by the process, and yes, I admit that’s probably because I usually like to be fully in control of a situation and on this occasion I didn’t stand a chance. But make the most of the offer of indulgence, I hear Cyprus is great but very popular. And if I can ask one more thing of you it will be to share these nuggets of information with anyone you know who is going to take on the challenge.