I got off the plane at Heathrow.
I knew my Cape Town flight was long gone, so I joined the queue at the help desk at BA. Got to the front, and was told the next flight was Monday night.
I am in London, little to no money, no SIM card, and way-way too much hand luggage, that is really heavy.
I also have no access to my baggage i.e. clean clothes and other comforts, and no way to know where those bags actually are.
I had to venture out to Section E in the land of where-the-fk-am-I-of-Heathrow to get to the “client services” desk of British Airways.
I thought I was special and would get oh-god-we-are-so-sorry-for-the-inconvenience-and-what-can-we-do-to-make-this-really-shitty-situation-any-better-for-you.
I joined a queue that was about three hours long, and filled with nearly every nationality and it appeared I was no longer as special and unique as I had thought, and clearly my problem was pretty minor based on the rather haggared and over worked faces of the “client services” staff.
I was one of several dozen/hundred people who had been dropped by BA into the nether lands of all-things-wrong-with-travel.
Fortunately I was on a BA flight, that was delayed, and it was BA’s fault.
Fortunately the connecting flight was a BA flight. Fortunately I had both check-in vouchers so I could prove I was there and available. This is a total BA problem.
There were few things to hold on to and take comfort from, but this was definitely one of them.
Basically BA has had a shocking day and there were phrases about fog and other weather issues thrown around.
I stood in this queue that just did not go anywhere.
Eventually (=three hours later) a very nice customer representative started working her way through the queue and sorting out people. People who looked like they were ready to drop.
The 4 behind me had been delayed on the Paddington>Heathrow Express train and had missed their flight to Paris as the Express train was experiencing some problems.
After more than three hours in the queue, they were told that their problem was not BA’s problem, so sorry for you, but no hotel, no vouchers, but come and stand in a corner while we all speak in raised voices and try to sort this out.
Total humour failure. Glad I was not them. I decided to remain in the queue, rather than walking vaguely around after a person with a hotel voucher.
Jenny – the BA person – I told I could get onto a Wednesday flight! W.H.AT.? I might have severely cussed at this point. But there is a sign in CAPS LOCK saying you are not allowed to verbally abuse the staff. I think if you write anything in UPPER CASE it must be pretty serious. It is not as bad as UPPER CASE WITH BOLD AND ITALICS.
Wednesday – seriously?? I really wanted to poo in my pants. But good sense held me back as I knew I did not have a change of underwear or more jeans.
Good sense reined supreme here, and I tightened my sphincter, and rested my face in my hands for a moment.
Jenny spoke with a bit more determination to whom ever was at the other end of her cellphone.
I got onto a SAA flight for Monday night. I was given a voucher for a hotel and a bus, and then directed out of a large door into the general direction of …… I really had no idea. It’s late. I have too many heavy bags as hand luggage. And I have seriously lost my good-humour-shine.
I sort of followed the signs to where I hoped would be a bus going to be hotel.
I sat there for about 60 minutes …. then the right bus came … two of them actually. But it appears 300 people trying to squeeze onto 2 busses that really only take 100 people does not fit. It wasn’t one of those 200. I don’t squeeze, I hang back and wait for a polite gap.
Needless to say, this was survival of the fittest and good rules and polite behaviour seemed to have been abandoned.
The buses left and I was still standing there.
At this point it was after 23h00 and I was getting a little tired of this jamboree festival I was starring in. There was one more bus coming, but a ton of people had already started milling around.
I sensed we would repeat the cycle, and again I would not make it on to a bus.
I hooked up with two other people who looked equally despondent as I was as I was. We were all going to the same hotel. We grabbed a taxi and said “heigh-ho Silver” and off we went.
Because it was a fun night, we arrived at the hotel and yay, another queue to stand in to check in. My brain was telling me there was a finite amount of rooms, and at some point, well things would get ugly.
On the bright side > we (the 3 who hopped in to the taxi) arrived before the bus carrying the rude people who pushed in before me, so that was a bit of a moment that made me smile with glee and a bit of delight.
Eventually got a room. On the plus side it was a really nice room. It’s really a nice hotel.
I had a toothbrush and toothpaste, and well, pretty much nothing else.
I had a sleep, a shower in the morning. Weighed up whether to wear the same underwear – but not really a wealth of choices available to me …..
I negotiated with the Eastern-European housemaid if she can clean two other rooms first and then I could have another 30 minutes sitting on the bed watching Jeremy Kyle Show on BBC (I think this is a British version of the Jerry Springer Show…..) and checking out.
I have found a corner of them hotel bar/lounge to sit in that has wi-fi, reasonably comfortable couches and annoying music …. this is what a cup of tea that costs £4.22 looks like … not dissimilar to one that costs R6.50 from the Wimpy it would seem …..
I also realised I do not have any pounds on me, I used it on the taxi last night … interesting little mystery how I am going to pay for the tea … I already ate the little muffin thing, so can’t send it back now …..