Last week the entire geek family enjoyed a lovely holiday in the South of France. Seven glorious days of sun, sea and sand whilst staying near some friends of ours who live over there. Hopefully I’ll write some more about the actual holiday in another blog post, when I’ve had the chance to process some of the photos I took whilst we were there. But for now I just wanted to recount a little story of how we almost missed our flight home thanks to Google calendar. I hope it serves as a warning to you all…
For a number of years now the geekdaddy and I have both used Google calendar to manage our diaries. It’s a system that works really well for us – we can access it via a web browser or our mobile phones, we can both see each other’s commitments, and we can even make our calendars available to close friends and family members (quite frequently my Mum will tell me what we’re doing at the weekend because she’s seen it in my calendar!)
Being an organised sort of person, I had entered the details of our flights to and from France into my Google calendar as soon as they were booked. So I was happy that if I needed to check any of the details I could just do so on my phone. Simple.
Our flight out went very smoothly. We were actually rather early to the airport, as we’d packed more quickly than I expected and found ourselves just sitting around waiting at home. So we figured we might as well leave, just in case the traffic was bad. The traffic was fine, we found the car drop off very easily (I’d paid the extra £15 for valet parking which is SO worth it!), and we had time for a coffee and a sit down (tricky with two over-excited kids) before the check-in desks opened. There was the slight matter of my hand luggage having to be inspected as the X-ray machine at the security check showed something metallic and rectangular (the geekson’s model car transporter, obviously). But we made it to the gate on time, managed to get seats all together, and made it safely to France.
When our friends asked us what time our return flight was, I checked Google calendar, saw that it was 22.30, stressed about how horrendous it was going to be flying that late with two small children and thought no more about it. My friend said we only needed to get to the airport an hour before the departure time, but at the last minute I had a bit of a wobble and, worried that didn’t give us enough contingency for traffic problems, asked if he would drop us off two hours before the departure time.
We made it to the airport, and found the departures list. I scanned down to 22.30 to see – no flight to England. Uh oh. Then I spotted the 21.30 flight, that was telling us that check-in desks would close in 20 minutes.
But my Google calendar says our flight is 22.30?!
Hang on a minute. French time is an hour ahead of UK time. It was then I remembered that when I’d added a calendar appointment a few days earlier one of the fields I’d spotted was the “time zone” field. Presumably there so that the calendar could adjust my appointments to the relevant local time. So when I’d added the details of my 21.30 return flight a few months ago I had presumably left the “timezone” setting for that entry to it’s default of UK time. Which meant that the minute we’d landed in France, and my phone had detected the timezone change (it’s jolly clever how it does that!) it had suddenly become a 22.30 flight instead.
Thankfully my friend was right, and we really did only need to arrive at the airport an hour ahead of our (actual) departure time. We dashed through check-in, speeded through security (aided by my remembering to remove the geekson’s car transporter and put it through the X-ray machine separately!), and boarded the plane comfortably.
Be warned people. Electronic calendars are all very well, but they can be too smart for their own good. Always double check your tickets for the correct time of your return flight!