British Airways flight crews have a few common features: they all are almost inevitably called Nigel, love to speak like Lord Kitchener as much as US astronauts adored to imitate Chuck Yeager’s drawl and, finally, are remarkably understated. To give you an idea, they’d define Russia’s tactics in Chechnya as “quite blunt”.
With this in mind you’ll understand why, when the captain defined the incoming approach into Bergen as a “bit bumpy”, I duly fastened my seatbelt and stowed away all my belongings, stuffing them in tiny recesses lest they flew away, hitting me in the face. I had once been on a flight to Rome whose approach was defined “a little bit breezy” by that day’s captain and it felt like being thrown in a tumble dryer, even though we were on a big, 250-seater, Boeing 767. This time it was a little A319, and Nigel said “bumpy”. Not breezy, not windy. Bumpy.
The flight had started fairly smoothly though, with a leisurely passage over London followed by an excursion above a North Sea that looked remarkably Southern: sunny, blue waters and puffy clouds here and there. Only a few rigs were to be seen, testimony that this was indeed the epicentre of Europe’s oil production and not the Med.
We made then landfall over southern Norway and, suddenly, the scenario changed. Much to the contrary of what the BBC had forecasted, clouds engulfed the skies, blocking views of the indented coastline. And those were clouds of the big-black-and-menacing type, not the fluffy cottonballs that were merrily floating about above the sea.
Descent started soon and, faithful to Nigel’s words, our little plane started being thrown about by the winds. Yet we continued, banking left and right, rolling up and down, in and out of the rain clouds. Outside, however, Norway was treating us with these views:
Much to the joy of most passengers we eventually leveled off and, save for the occasional gust that threw us sideways, we were quite stable, lined for the runway; then, with a surprisingly soft touch, we hit the ground at Bergen Fiesland airport.
Had they proposed me another round, I think I’d have agreed straight away.