Scotland 2016 – Day 1

First things first.  I am not in Scotland (yet).  I’m in London.  After what has to have been my worst travel experience to date, I am spending the night at a mediocre airport hotel close to Heathrow.  Oh, you want to hear the story?  Don’t mind if I do…

Last night’s journey to London Heathrow

Everything started out fine.  I got to Logan Airport on time, went through security, and boarded the plane a little before 7PM last night.  The flight was scheduled to leave at 7:20PM, and we pushed back from the gate around 7:30.  Then we stopped.  And sat half-backed-out for about 15-20 minutes before the captain came on to let us know the thud we heard was actually a blown tire.  (I didn’t actually hear anything, but I’ll take their word for it.)  No problem… it will be about 30 minutes to replace the tire and we’ll be on our way.  FIVE HOURS LATER (I’m not making this up), we finally left the ground in Boston after midnight.  By that point, they had wined and dined us and we were all great friends sharing the common predicament of knowing we would miss our connections in London.  Not so bad for the people headed to Glasgow or Rome.  Not so great for someone heading to Inverness where there is one flight per day.  

Scotland 2016 007
Somewhere over England

Of course, once we got to Heathrow, there was no place for us to park, so we spent another half hour waiting for a gate to open up.  We finally got off the plane around 11:15AM.  If you’re keeping track, that is nearly 12 hours on the plane.  Off I go to the flight connections desk.  Along with everyone else.  It took another hour and a half to get my flight sorted out.  Long story short, there are no other flights (or connections) to Inverness today, and tomorrow’s flight is already oversold.  (My one guaranteed option for tomorrow was an early morning flight to Belfast connecting to a turboprop to Inverness.  You might remember the entire reason I booked with British Airways was to avoid taking a turboprop.  No go for Laura.)  So I now have a guaranteed seat on Saturday’s flight to Inverness, with the possibility of going tomorrow if any seats open up.  I have to go back to the airport in the morning to try to fly standby, but if not, it will be Saturday before I get there.  

I politely asked if I could pick up my luggage and was told it would be waiting for me on the carousel when I got down to baggage reclaim.  30 minutes through immigration and I was standing at carousel 8 watching a bunch of bags go around and around, none of them mine.  Another line?  Why not!  This one was at the baggage counter where a shift change was about to happen.  This probably seems like no big deal, but apparently the entire staff has the same hours, so there was a long period of time where no one was actually manning the baggage counter.  I finally got to the front of the line and was told my bag was taken to the “drop chute” because I hadn’t claimed it.  Eventually, they found someone to go retrieve it and I was on my way.  

Park Inn
Park Inn London/Heathrow

Thanks to British Airways, I have a hotel room for the night with dinner and breakfast included.  And I have to say, the restaurant menu actually looks pretty good!  (Edit: The menu looked great; the “delayed flight voucher” entitled me to a lackluster buffet in a back room with other displaced passengers.  However, the dessert buffet made up for the rest of the meal!)  Unfortunately, I had to call both the rental car company (who told me they couldn’t just hold a car for me indefinitely) and the original hotel for the night (who told me their cancellation policy is 28 days so I would be charged for the night anyway).  I’m hoping when I get home I can find some sympathy (in the way of cash/vouchers) from British Airways to take some of the sting out of that part of it.

Anyway, aside from all of that, my first day of vacation was pretty boring and uneventful :).  I am beyond exhausted at this point.  Had I gotten here earlier, I might have gone into London or somewhere else for a while, but I didn’t get to the hotel until about 3:30PM.  I plan to spend the rest of the day reading, watching British television, eating dinner, and then heading to bed.  I have to be up early for my standby flight in the morning!