Still At Heathrow
It’s almost 3pm on Monday the 13th of August.
We should be in Namibia, recovering from an overnight flight to Jo’berg with BAand a short hop up thew continent with Air Namibia.
But no, we are in an airport hotel, a nice one at least, waiting until we can walk across the walkway to T5 and check in for a second attempt at our flight.
So went wrong? We had an inkling that this holiday might not be plain sailing when we got to the airport and got done for excess baggage. No problem really, except it took us over an hour to pay the fee- and we had cash. Then DD2 lost her bag. One moment she had it, the next she didn’t. Luckily we spotted the security team heading towards her backpack by the seat she’d gone to sit on to tie her shoe laces and intercepted them before they blew it up.
Our plane was supposed to leave at 9:20pm, so we had given the kids very little to eat in anticipation of a meal on the flight. Once we boarded the plane, we realised the Air Conditioning wasn’t working. The captain soon came on and told us that there was a problem with the tail light that had to be fixed before we could take off.
The AC was switched on for a short time after the first repair failed but before we knew it we’d been sitting on the tarmac for almost 3 hours. The plane was blisteringly hot and everyone had sweat pouring off them. There had been an argument between a stewardess and a Spanish passenger, The girls had all been in tears and DS had flaked out. We’d been bought some drinks and snacks but no one had had dinner. It was pretty hellish.
At midnight, the captain made another announcement. They would try one last fix, the previous 2-3 had failed, but if things hadn’t improved by 1:50 am then the flight would be cancelled and we’d be accommodated for the night. The captain kept apologising and assuring us that he was trying his best to get the plane off the ground but TBH, I just wanted them to let us off. I seemed obvious to me we weren’t going anywhere!
Sure enough, by the time 2am rolled around, we were told to disembark and retrieve our hold luggage. The kids were in pieces by now, and collapsed on some nearby seats while DH stayed in the line to get tickets for the replacement flight and to find out what to do about our connecting flights.
We were right at the back of a very long line, but luckily one of the BA staff heard DS kicking off and bumped DH to the front of the line. We did feel a bit guilty, there were a lot of very tired people there, but the kids really needed to get their head down.
We went through passport control, grabbed our bags, and then trekked to the exit that was to take us to the hotel. We were waiting for a lift to take us to the walkway when alarms started sounding and the whole terminal was evacuated. We had no choice but to traipse outside with the kids and were lead around the road, pushing a luggage trolley laden with kids,to the entrance to the hotel.
I had managed to keep it together through all of this so far, but when I saw that most of the other passengers had got to the hotel check in desk before us, I’m afraid I was a bit grumpy. DS and DD3 were wailing loudly at this point, and DD2 was about done in as well. It was not a happy time.
But then one of the staff members came over to investigate the screams coming from our party, and again we were bumped to the front and given rooms about an hour earlier than we would have. Again, I felt guilty but relieved.
Once we got to our rooms, we discovered we’d been given rooms with a single king sized bed in each. We thought about asking for a camp bed in each room, but then just decided we’d cope with 3 in a bed instead.
We slept well and woke up at 9, after 6 hours unconsciousness. The kids were still knackered, but breakfast finished at 10, so we all had showers and went down for something to eat.
The Sofitel, where we are staying, has treated us very well. We don’t have to check out until we can check in at T5, so have been quite comfortable. And BA have been very helpful as well, although I don’t think they should have got us to board the plane until they knew the fault was fixed.
We have flown a lot and this is probably the worst thing that has happened to us as a family. It’s just one of those things and there have been some positive spin offs. DH managed to nip home today to get a bigger suitcase, and pick up some bits and pieces we had left behind and I’ve organised the suitcases within an inch of their lives. We’ve had a decent bed to sleep in, a shower and two meals.
But we have lost a day of our holiday, which we will have to make up somewhere.
Fingers crossed our flight this evening takes off tonight and we actually get there this time!