March 28, 2013
I booked my Spain trip through Expedia and flew British Air from Phoenix to London. Left last night from Sky Harbor at 9:10 p.m. After the all night flight I walked off my plane at Heathrow and went straight to the terminal (had to take that damn train) and I asked an attendant which gate my plane was at, and he said, "Around this corner, but you're not going to make it." I thought that odd, so I walked around the corner, only to see a big ol' line. I'm nervous now, but I wait patiently and when I get up there the woman says, "You missed this flight." And I said, "How could I have missed it?" It's supposed to leave at four, it's been changed from the three o'clock flight one." (I had the Expedia report which was sent to me last night)
And she calls a number and literally waits on hold for someone to answer for ten minutes. People are streaming by me and she finally says, gravely, "Sir, you were booked business and you are not. You'll need to go over there to that even longer line."
Okay, she didn't say all that but that is the gist of it. I go over and wait in the longer, angrier line and finally this woman goes through the same procedure. Clicking around her computer with a grave face until she finally repeats what the other woman said. I say, "I don't understand. Tell me exactly why I missed this flight," and she tells me and I couldn't tell you what she said. it was ridiculous British doublespeak (which by the way they are brilliant at!). She says they are putting me up at a hotel just off the airport area and I can try again tomorrow.
THEN I have to go through the god-damned immigration line, which was 45 minutes, but I meet a Phoenix couple who got bumped off their British Air flight as well and they were fun to talk to. Found about their early life, how they met, how many tax returns they have filed over the years. I had time to tell them about all of my books, how I met Kathy, the wedding at Pioneer Living History Museum, the research trips going back to 1991 and how much I enjoy Lincoln, New Mexico. When I get to the front of the damn Queue they tell me someone should have given me the immigration form to fill out and I say, "I'm going to a second class hotel for the night and coming back to maybe fly out in the morning, I'm not planning on farming the hedgerows near Eaton."). I had to fill out the form.
Then to the bus downstairs where it was freezing. The only good thing that happened is that as I rolled to the final door (terrible signage!) a man was standing outside a liquor store with tiny shot glasses on a tray, and he says, "Anybody want a shot?" I laughed and took one and said, "You, sir, are the only good thing that has happened to me in this airport and this country today." It was whiskey and it was marvelous.
So now I'm outside and it's flipping' freezing and I wait another ten minutes, then I get to my hotel and they comped my meal but after I ordered they said it was only for the buffet. I just laughed and said, bring me the salmon anyway. My waiter, East Indian, came back and said the manager comped the meal. That was the second best thing that happened to me in Merry Old England today.
"You sir, and your flippin' airline are Bloody Bastards."—What I wanted to say, but never did