A traveller’s tale of Heathrow

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Baggae reclaim at terminal 3 at 20.19 on the 10th December 2017

On Sunday, I flew into Heathrow from Lisbon. Usually this would be an uneventful flight. Today on December 10th, snow fell.

On my flight we were delayed by two hours leaving Lisbon. It wasn’t the fault of anyone at Lisbon. We were boarded quickly.  Passengers scurried along to make the flight. We were all on board on time. And then we sat there. And sat. Two hours later and after being offered just a half glass of water we finally took off.

Finally air-bound and with joy we winged our way to London with ease. Food was served to those willing to pay airline prices or who, having sat on the plane were now in need of something more substantial than a sip of water decided that the cost was a necessity..

Arriving in London we made up some time.   Unusually we were on the left of the airport, a part of the airport the captain didn’t know as he’d never been there before that snow clad day.  But today was different.

Landing just after 3pm, we were met with news that the airport was full. Heathrow is the third largest airport in the world with planes landing or taking off every 45 seconds and serving over 70 million passengers a year. To make an airport this big function efficiently, things need to run like clockwork. But not today

Hour after hour passed, with the captain occasionally saying he wasn’t able to give us any further information but was trying to pull in all the favours that he was ever owed. He even took to the aisle and walked the length of the cabin despite being asked pretty much the same question by everyone who stopped him.  All credit should go to the pilots who did make appearances, who did share what little knowledge they knew and who braved the increasingly fed-up attitudes of passengers. Not all members of the cabin crew were so calm.

One member of the crew was less helpful, as she rudely brushed past passengers stretching their legs during that arduous wait at Heathrow.  A passenger asked how much longer. Her curt and unnecessary reply was ‘we’ve been on the plane longer than you have!’   Maybe she hadn’t been rostered for  the latest customer service course!

Just to remind readers, we passengers had been on that plane since 10.20 that morning By about 7pm grumbling had begun to be noticeable as it was now four hours since we had landed. At the front of the plane, passengers had been given drinks. There were some left over for those of us in the cheap seats at the front of the plane. At the back there was nothing; the crew had run out of drinks. Being persistent, I asked for some drinks and they eventually bought us some 150ml mini cans.

And then bliss! We were told we could disembark. The first bus arrived at 7.15pm and took just under half of all the passengers to the correct terminal by bus to collect their luggage.  The rest of us were left standing in the aisles until we were also transferred some 35 minutes later along with the crew. Why the crew? Because we were on their own bus rather than a designated passenger transfer one.

At 9.30pm I left the terminal, very tired and without my bag.  There are in excess of 70,000 people working at Heathrow but, that night, they must have all been on holiday. Bags were strewn all over with none being taken off the belts and with no floor space to put the bags if they had been.  I had a drive of over two hours ahead of me on top of this eleven hour trial. I was tired and I just wanted to go home and sleep!

As for my luggage, I couldn’t find it so I filed a missing bag form. The message back was it had gone to New York’s Newark airport. I couldn’t care tonight. I’ll face that problem on Monday!

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