The Layover from Hell
London Travel Blog› entry 2 of 18 › view all entries
As the plane touched down in London, I felt relaxed, short of the typical ancyness I always feel to get off the plane and breath some fresher air. This was a more complex layover then some, because we were actually changing airlines; collecting all our baggage from British Airways, transfering from terminal 4 to terminal 2 with all luggage in hand, and then checking in as new customers for Alitalia. For two seasoned travelers such as us, however, it was no sweat! Right??
The walk from the plane to immigration was quite long, but finally we made it there and parted ways; Michelle actually travels with a UK Passport, while I have a US Passport, so we need to take different queues when going through immigration lines.
We met back up at our baggage claim; we still had 3 hours before our flight took off, but we still needed to get the luggage, change terminals, check back in and get to a new gate - so where was our luggage?
Finally, the belt began to roll and bags began to come out. Not my bags mind you, but bags. Michelle's luggage arrived, and slowly the crowd began to thin; but not as thoughly or as quickly as would normally happen - there were still plenty of people watching the conveyer with faces that kept running the gauntlet between befuddlement, misery, pensiveness, and incredulity.
Finally, the announcement came out from on high; the reason so many of us were still waiting on luggage, was because one of the luggage holds was completely stuck shut, and the entire forces of British Airways was, currently, unable to get it un-jammed; there was talk of bringing in a welder. Seriously?? And how do I always manage to "win" these cosmic lotteries?
Time continued to tick by... minutes into hours... at this point, we felt pretty sure we were going to miss our flight; when suddenly, just at the moment that would guarentee that we would HAVE to try to catch our flight, but would also be forced to run some sort obstical course/marthon to do so, my luggage arrived, and we were off!
The first trick was simply to figure out how to get from terminal 4 to terminal 2. For some reason I can no longer recall, we thought there would be a shuttle - no, there is not. It's all done by train.
DOWN TO THE TRAIN!
We rush thru the airport, down ramps, into the train section, and still? No train can we find to go to Terminal 2. At this point, it's taken us much longer to try to find this than it's taken you to read this, and believe me, the fact that we still had not even managed to make it to the correct BUILDING yet began to boggle the mind.
We were finally told that we should actually get on the Heathrow Express, but just get off right at Terminal 2, thus not needing a ticket. Ta. And off we went.
Arriving at Terminal 2 we then had the wonderful luck and joy of reversing our previous steps from Terminal 4; UP all the ramps, thru the train section entrance to the actual airport, and over to the level and location where we could check in. At first, they told us we had in fact missed the flight. Then they sent us to another desk to reschedule. The man there changed the decree and said if we rushed we could make it, and yelled at the first desk to check our bags. I had mixed feelings on this; I felt we would loose our luggage, and I was tired - at this point it had already been a long trip, and a night in London before moving on honestly wasn't sounding that bad. But on we went.
After checking in the bags we began to run anew, and then hit security. Little had I known that since we would be changing terminals, we were now switching from USA security rules to UK security rules, which are different. I had a small carryon that was stuffed full, and my purse. In the States, that's ok - but here, you can only have one. Tears began to well in my eyes, as I tried without success to shove my purse into the already over-filled carryone bag - it was clearly not going to go. Then, an angel in a UK security uniform took pity on me; she opened the flap on my cary on, lied my purse dead on top (not at all inside) and uttered the word I so needed to hear:
Shooting her the most grateful look I had, we rushed thru security and got onto the plane - just as it was ready to take off.