Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Linda's London Adventure: Day 1: Failure to Launch

     Traveling to London has been a dream of mine for years. Ever since I was in my early twenties, and began reading biographies on all the English kings and queens, and then historical novels on the Tudors, Stuarts, etc., it's been my goal to one day actually see all the castles, tombs, parks, etc. that I had only read about. Now, in my early fifties, and with a saved nest-egg for this very trip, I had the very fortunate opportunity to go. My husband, Dan, and son, Matthew, really wanted to go as well, so it became a family trip and a high school graduation trip. But, it was up to me to plan, because we'd be mostly touring the sites I wanted to see.


     So, for almost the entire past year, I've been planning this trip, which was to begin on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 and end on July 4th. We'd bus it from Madison, Wisconsin down to O'Hare airport in Illinois and take a direct flight to Heathrow airport in England. I'd even made arrangements for a ride to our rented flat once we landed in England. Easy peasey, right?


     Oh the best laid and plotted for a year plans....

     The morning we were to leave, literally ten minutes before we were about to walk out the door, I received a text from British Airways alerting me that our flight had been delayed...twenty-four hours! Now, I'm pretty easy going, and I can understand delaying a plane for a few hours, maybe half a day, but an entire DAY??? And I hate to fly, so having to extend my flying anxiety by another twenty-four hours was torture. I quickly phoned British Airways and was told, that yes, this day delay was indeed true. I told them that that was unacceptable and to put us on another flight. Well, they could (and here I'd like to interject that the call center staff  at British Airways could teach classes in Grace and Pleasantries Under Pressure)  but gee, we'd have to be there in three hours. Um..no, we were still, at the very least, three hours away, not to mention getting through security and baggage check, etc.)  But, that was the best they could do...all other outgoing flights to London were booked. I hung up, realizing that I never even asked why our flight was cancelled, er, delayed an entire day.(British Airways reps kept assuring us "It's not cancelled, it's just delayed...") Hm. It sure felt canceled to us, as we were completely packed and ten minutes from walking out the door and now couldn't leave. I called BA again. I had a different representative on the phone and had to again explain the entire process of who we were, what happened to our flight, etc., and then asked why our flight was canceled, er, delayed. BA Rep said,  "Weather related." I said okay and hung up...but then thought, "Wait a minute, the other rep said other flights were all booked and leaving."  We checked the weather forecasts for Chicago and London and both had great weather. I also had a friend flying to Europe that day, and I texted her, and she was at O'Hare and her flight was on time and leaving in an hour. So now, we were really ticked off, but with absolutely no flight until the next evening, we threw in the towel and decided to wait, hoping that BA might reimburse us for the apartment rental evening we were missing in England.

      (We would later find out that the real reason our flight was canceled, er, delayed, was because the incoming flight from England hit a flock of birds after take-off, and there was damage to that plane. They decided to turn around and go back to Heathrow, thus, we had no actual plane.  Had BA reps actually been given the correct information to give customers, our anger would not have been as it was. Disappointed, yes, we still would have been, but at least we would have understood why our trip was delayed a day and we would lose money on a flat that we weren't staying at that first night, yet still had to pay for.)


(One more thing: Despite this auspicious beginning, British Airways proved to be an excellent airline and we were completely satisfied with the service we received once we actually made it to the airport and got on a flight. More about this in Day Two's blog.)  

So, trying to dissipate our anger and disappointment, instead of heading to the bus, we headed to one of our very favorite places in Madison. We went to the Henry Vilas Zoo. But, by this time, it was later in the day, and many exhibits were closed. We still had a pleasant time, however.

So, for Day One Pics....Please  enjoy the pics  the Madison Zoo animals!

Stay tuned for Day Two: The Eagle Has Landed

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