Up at 4:45 for a 6:20 flight, and here I am still at the gate at 8:20. At the gate but, alas, on the plane, typing in a cramped space mostly to dispel the boredom and in the full expectation of a whole day to enjoy Amsterdam. It seems that a baggage conveyor belt hit the fuselage, causing a minor dent near the hold door. The dent was not deep enough to render the plane unsafe, but too deep to be pronounced safe by engineers on the spot. So a photo had to be taken and sent to Amsterdam for KLM’s engineers there to read the runes.

Far be it from me to complain about them taking their safety responsibilities seriously. I have no desire to travel in a plane with a dented fuselage if that compromises its airworthiness. But I do wonder how an engineer looking at a photograph of a dent takes a better decision than one looking at the dent itself.

Anyway, an hour later a bloke arrived with a digital camera. He didn’t look like he was all that familiar with it. But he clicked away diligently and then a stewardess (or whatever they are called these days) helped him to review the snaps and off he went to email them to the engineers in Amsterdam. That was more than an hour ago. And here we sit, still.

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed my connection, and I believe there's only one a day. Which isn’t necessarily all bad.

The captain’s just come on to tell us that Amsterdam says that the dent is on the frame of the cargo door and not on the skin, and that could compromise the pressure in the air cabin, and that’s why it is taking so long to let us know what is going on. All the more reason, I would have thought, for an on-site inspection.

So we may not be going anywhere, but we are well-informed.

9:50 now, and they've handed out the compensation package -- a 10 euro meal and a phone card. This bodes badly. The dent apparently needs to be X-rayed or some such to ensure that the metal below is not damaged. I think I overheard the Cap’n say something about at least three hours. Rats. The one thing I do not want to do is stay in Rome and have to wake at 4.45 again tomorrow.

Amsterdam, at last, only seven hours late. And alas, there is a flight out tonight to Nairobi, with space available. Maybe staying in Rome could have been preferable. And 6 euros for half an hour of access seems a bit steep, but what the heck.

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