Yesterday I planned to go to Redmond for the second part of the Office 12 TAP workshop that the Microsoft EMEA Office 12 Virtual Team (Hans VB, Dave Webster & I) will redeliver for ISV DEs as well as TAP ISVs here in Europe. But as it is the case very often - it happens different than originally thought...

When coming to the airport in Vienna everything was fine - except the really very heavy snow falls... I am a very optimistic guy so I thought the airport is going to manage the chaos. But then the problems started.

The first hour delay...
Just before boarding they changed the gate because another flight from Dubai (or something similar, I don't remember) came in to late and blocked the originally planned gate. Well that was the first hour but I was still very relaxed because I thought: "well, one hour delay will shorten down my waiting time in Copenhagen ... great:)).

The second and third hour delay...
While the machine had to wait it came up that the surface of the plane got icy. So it was necessary to de-ice the plane with de-icing machines before we where able to start. The good thing is that the Vienna airport has three (three, hey man, that's good for an airport with about 10 mio. passengers per year) de-icing machines. So we started with something around position 30 in the de-icing queue ... when suddenly one of the de-icing machines had a break-down (we where at position 27 at this time). These were the next two hours delay...

The fourth and the fifth hour delay...
Okay, I still was quite fine because I thought "the flight to Seattle will have about 1 hour delay in Copenhagen ... so I will make it and my luggage wont ... but I am fine with that". But when we where at position 4 or 5 in the queue the second de-icing machine had a break-down. Then I realized that I won't make it in time and asked if I can get off the plane to get another connection directly from Vienna ... but that was impossible because if they would have opened the doors once again they would have lost their position in the queue for de-icing which would result in a further delay of 2 hours more. I thought "well, I don't mind:))" but it would have been definitely unfair to all the other passengers. So I had to fly to Copenhagen allthough I already knew I won't make it to Seattle and I furthermore knew that getting a connecting flight would be inherently hard because we already had some problems with booking my initial flight.

A flight to Copenhagen for buying an aftershave and a deo stick
And so it happened - I went to Copenhagen, asked for a connecting flight to Seattle (did I already mention that I had to leave Seattle on Wednesday afternoon!?) and the earliest one would bring me there on Monday very late in the night which lead to the fact that I possibly would have missed the first part of the meeting on Tuesday as well... Oh yeah, and the trip would have been a really short and relaxing one (not really:)): Copenhagen to London - spend one night in London - go from London to Calgary/Canada - spend a couple of hours in Canada and then go from Calgary to Seattle. Oh yeah, I would have definitely been completly relaxed for the meeting in Redmond after such a nice flight ... would I!? Therefore I decided to go back to Vienna. But I don't wanted to have a flight without any sense in my list and therefore I bought an aftershave and a deo-stick. I think it's really cool having the possibility to say "well, I don't buy my aftershave just in a shop at home ... I go to Copenhagen for that" ... isn't it?

After I have bought my stuff (it's cool, isn't it:))) I went back to the monitors to see what's going on with my flight to Vienna. At this time it was about 7:30 p.m. and boarding started at 7:25 p.m. ... great ... at 7:30 they had no gate yet... Slightly in panic I tried to find out what the gate is but then I realized that although they have already started boarding (!!!!) the plane was not at the airport yet. That's really cool, boarding a plane although it's not there yet. After two hours they decided to show that the plane goes 2 hours later - instead of 8 p.m. it was scheduled for 10 p.m. and at the end it left at 10:30 p.m.

Finally back where all started
At 0:30 a.m. I arrived back in Vienna and guess what ... after a hard, chaotic fight for getting a cab we ran in a traffic jam on the highway from the airport to my home ... at 1:00 p.m. ... a traffic jam ... unbelievable. Just because they had some heavy transportations at this time. But no problem - so far it was a funny Sunday anway...

But the good thing of it all...
...is not just the fact that I got an aftershave in Copenhagen. I was really totally excited about that fact that the airport as well as the airline did a great job in organizing the hotels for the others and my flight back. Without any pre-knowledge (it was the first time that this happened to me) I had no problems finding the emergency check-in in Copenhagen and they really helped me out very quickly (the delays of the flights ... well that's something that can happen, especially at this time of the year). Within miniutes they had all the possible flights with free seats to Seattle and to Vienna and within minutes they changed the bookings. And best of all - although I expected my luggage to not arrive in Vienna with me it did - it wasn't lost, it made it's way to the flight back to Vienna.

So finally I think we can learn much out of their organizational talent when I think how chaos starts with even little things in many other organizations or especially software development projects in the real world...

And fortunately I was not alone ... Robert Brucker from the SQL Server Reporting Services Product-Team who helped us this week with ATE and a Session on Reporting Services on our Launch Conference 2005 as well as Balazs Deri from Corp. finance where on the same flight from Vienna to Copenhagen (well :)) how high is the probability of meeting guys from Microsoft on a trip to Redmond) and we had some really interesting discussions....