Here we are, stuck at Heathrow Airport’s Travelodge Hotel while the snow rages outside. I posted a status update on Facebook yesterday, after I heard the forecast for the weather: “hope the snow doesn’t affect our flight…” I think I jinxed us. We got through check-in and security pretty quickly, then searched for the Starbucks. More of that on the Starbucks Project Blog. It was packed in the terminal. By the way, Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport is beautiful! Brand new and beautifully designed. Anyway, we got our coffee and found some seats in the waiting lounge in order to wait for our gate to be assigned. We kept checking back as the time got closer and closer, yet our gate was not being assigned. Meanwhile, more and more flights had this written next to them: “Enquire Airline”. Simeon ran to get in line, which was steadily growing, at the customer service desk. A few minutes later I looked back at the screen; now it said, “Cancelled.” So did every flight going to Germany. We were flying to Berlin, but there were flights to Frankfurt, Dussledorf, and Hamburg; those, including the flights to Zurich, were all cancelled. Then the screen said, “Go to Gate 20”. Somehow, I managed to take two suitcases, a laptop, my purse, and a venti Starbucks cup over to the massive crowd milling in front of the customer service desk and found Simeon, almost at the front of the line.
I told him the screen said we were supposed to go to Gate 20, so he got out of the line and we made our way amidst hundreds of others to the gate, where there was absolutely NO ONE there to tell us what was going on, where to go, or how to be rebooked. Finally they told us we had to leave the terminal all together and make our ways through border control, pick up our luggage and go back to check-in to be rebooked. This is where our dance training came in.
We used our standard dancing abilities to propel ourselves through the airport ahead of the massive stampede of disconcerted travelers, got through passport control quickly because I was in the “all passport” line, which is usually longer, and all the thousands of others were in the EU Passport line. Bwahahahaha!!!! After border control, we split up; Simeon ran upstairs to the check-in counter, and I rushed to the baggage claim to collect our suitcases. When I got upstairs, Simeon was about 50 people back. In other words, he was near the front of the line. That is what I call teamwork!
We were in line for 2 ½ hours. We tried every avenue. Simeon tethered his phone to his laptop for internet connection and work the internet while in line, and I ran over to the pay phone and got on the phone. First we got rebooked to a flight to Berlin tomorrow, leaving at 1pm and landing at 3pm. But we wanted to give ourselves more time. So back to the phone I went. The man I spoke to had mentioned an earlier flight to Hamburg. I wanted to call them up and get switched to that flight instead.
No sooner had I picked up the receiver than a BA worker approached me and asked me how long I had been on the phone. I said not too long, she replied that if I had been on hold for too long, I could go talk to her and she would take care of us. I didn’t wait. I hung up the phone and explained our situation. She grabbed our passports, disappeared into a back office, then reappeared with our new boarding passes, leaving for Hamburg the next morning at 7:50 am. We also had a voucher for dinner at Travelodge, so here we are, finally, at the Travelodge getting ready for a short night and a very long day. Well, hopefully we will make it to Germany tomorrow!