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a blog by Chris Barrow

Air South West break the camels back

My alarm call this morning is at 4.00am and I enjoy the fast dawn drive to Newquay airport in the Pontiac, under a clear sky and a full moon. Weather’s clear and it’s going to be a great day – I’m off to Leeds to meet with Nigel Hargreaves and help him grow The North of England Dental Academy – his brainchild and a project I have been coaching him on for 12 months now. I’m all set to spend a full day with Nigel and his business manager, Holly Whittle, discussing plans for 2008, with an emphasis on marketing his innovative new service. I arrive at the airport at 5.30am and check-in for my flight- the screen is telling me that the expected departure is 7.00am – just 30 minutes late – so I make a couple of quick calls to Nigel and Holly, explaining the delay. Nigel is due to pick me up at Leeds/Bradford airport. Laptop on, of course, and a few emails over coffee as I wait – using my 3G datacard and a weak GPRS signal as the airport is in the wilds. Better than nothing though. At 7.00am the 20 or so passengers travelling to “Bristol, Leeds and Manchester” (which means the Manchester people disembark in Bristol and we fly on to Leeds) are asked to come forward and answer an intriguing question:

If we cancel the flight, will you wait until this afternoon, take a taxi or ask for a refund?”

Great question. I’m 6 hours drive from Leeds and a cab, taking my own car, or taking the later flight are all out of the question – so my answer has to be “refund” and cancel the day. Call to Nigel to explain that it’s up in the air or, should I say, precisley the opposite! Somehow, I have a vision of a thin, greying accountant, sat in an office somewhere, collating our answers and calculating whether it would be more cost-effective to find an aircraft or expect the ground staff to take the crap that will follow.

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