Welcome to my four-part series about my experience getting home last year amongst the chaos that was Heathrow Airport! I hope everyone gets home easily for the holidays this year, let’s keep the snow until we’re all where we want to be 🙂
December 17th, 2010
It was the last day of classes before uni broke up Christmas holidays. Yes, they called them the christmas holidays and not December break. Simply one more thing on the list of reasons why I was enamoured with England. To commemorate the end of our first term at uni, we were going out for dinner, then on to ‘Spoons and finally to a club. It had been cold recently, reaching maybe 25 F around midday, but I’m from New York. I’m used to seasons, I could handle it.
It had already snowed once, the Friday after Thanksgiving in fact. People had begun talking about the snow that was supposed to come in overnight; England might have a white Christmas. All I thought was how lovely it would be to see England bathed in a blanket of white. Nothing that would make me doubt the fact that I was going home on Sunday, why should it? In America, a sprinkling of snow wouldn’t have delayed anything.
December 18th, 2010
I woke up to see snow covering the tree outside my window. In the moment, it was lovely. Retrospectively? Not so much.
Since it was Saturday, I did what I normally did, I knocked on my friend’s door and headed off to get some brunch. Yum. There were even a few snowballs thrown on our way to the dining hall; the celebratory atmosphere had pervaded our hall.
Over the involved affair that was brunch, a friend told me British Airways cancelled all their flights out of Heathrow that day. I told him he was joking. He said he heard it on the radio, Heathrow was at a standstill. Well, I told him, there’s hardly any snow and they’ll clean up what little there is by tomorrow evening. My flight would surely take off as scheduled.
I didn’t think much of that statement until later in the afternoon when I checked my flight status whilst skyping with my parents. It read, quite unsatisfactorly, undetermined. Well, they’re obviously just covering themselves, I don’t have an reason for concern.
Soon, it became clear that I was in greater trouble than I initially thought. My friends started changing their schedules to leave earlier and avoid further complications caused by the so-called blizzard. They began talking about long queues at the train station and six hour drives to London. To say I started to get nervous was an understatement. I panicked, all I wanted to do was get to the airport and get home like everyone else.
By that evening, everyone had gone. Since I had thought that I would be able to leave halls for dinner that evening, I had no food in my room. It was a bit of a nightmare. I spent the evening checking Heathrow’s twitter page (highly unsatisfactory answers, but a good stress reliever when answers were being posted), cleaning my room and refreshing my flight status.
When I went to sleep, I had no idea whether my flight would be cancelled or not. My parents and I had decided, however, that instead of taking the National Express to the airport, I would take the train to London. The roads were still bad, in fact no buses were running at all the next day.
to be continued
Do you travel during the holidays? What was your most stressful travel experience during them?