19th December 2010
The first thing I did upon waking up at six am is check my flight status. After looking at an unsatisfactory “to be decided” for the entirety of yesterday, I was rewarded with an answer. Cancelled.
I didn’t know what to do, other than call my parents. So, call them I did. Luckily, when your child might not get home for Christmas as planned, you stay up quite a bit later than normal. They answered and my mother got into action straight away, booking me a hotel room near Paddington Station.
Then, I got a taxi to the train station with a fellow student. They got out before me, paid the driver and I continued on. After a bit of conversation with the taxi driver about how my flight was cancelled and the crazy weather, we arrived at the train station. Upon asking how much I owed, he told me nothing. I was shocked. The fact was, I had hardly any money in my account, I didn’t think I would need to transfer much for the last weekend, and really needed every last penny. I thanked him profusely, picked up my tickets and went to the train.
Luckily, there weren’t many people there and I only had a brief wait on the freezing cold train platform before the First Great Western bound for London Paddington arrived. It was the first and only time I wasn’t riding in the quiet carriage and it was quite an experience. Let’s just say, I’m not used to people who get on an 8 o’clock train with a six pack of beer and proceed to drink it all whilst talking loudly. I thought they were going to be riding all the way to Paddington, but after getting on in Bath Spa they got off at Reading.
I spent the rest of my journey in relative silence, exhausted and wondering when I would get home. It seemed unlikely to be anytime soon. Between calls with my mother about flights my parents were researching and comments about how long they had been on hold with British Airways (I think it was hours? I’m sure they still remember!), I admired the English countryside in the snow. It really is quite beautiful.
After a couple hours, my train arrived in Paddington and I made my way to my hotel. In normal weather conditions while carrying a normal bag, the walk from Paddington to Novotel should take about five minutes, seven max. That day, however, I would say, conservatively, I spent fifteen minutes lugging myself and my luggage to the hotel.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my suitcase alone weighed thirty kilos, only two kilos below you-cannot-bring-this-bag-on-the-plane. My carry-on? It weighed ten. I also had a personal item, which at that point was only a Cath Kidston Christmas paper bag. In total, I was carrying forty kilos, nearly ninety pounds. That’s a lot when you’re only five three.
Luckily, my ego was only slightly bruised by the time I got to the hotel and started to understand just how many people were stranded in London at the moment.
to be continued
Have you ever had a flight cancelled? How did you react?