Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Our Travel Nightmare!!

Oh my god, what a weekend, do you know when you're sitting in the comfort of your own home watching the news and you think 'that will never be me.'  Then you find yourself in the middle of a nightmare?

It started Saturday morning when we left snowy Wolverhampton at 10:30am in plenty of time to get to Heathrow for our flight to NYC, little did we realise the chaos to unfold.  We steadily made our way down the M6 averaging about 40miles an hour on the snowy road.  Everything cleared for one junction on the M42 and things were looking up, that was short lived as in soon got back to averaging 40mph on snow again.  Then it all went downhill, we reached the junction before Newbury and it was a standstill - there was snow between the lanes, changing lanes was treacherous and I could feel the tyres struggling for grip.  We were probably queueing for a couple of hours when we got past the junction and the traffic had cleared, again this was shortlived and we were soon queueing again.  This time we were averaging a mile in an hour!

You start to think you had wished you had listened to the advice - keep water, food and a shovel in your car!  We hadn't eaten all day and were starving.  The snow was about a foot deep and the motorway hadn't been gritted, it was a nightmare.  People were going to the loo on the side of the carriageway (we cut the bottom of a bottle out so I could have a wee!  Lol!) and building snowmen on the central reservation.  It was quite surreal!!  We finally got the root cause of our blockage - lorries jacknifed all over the carriageway!!  So we got through and finally got to Heathrow 13 hours after we set off!  All the time following the car in front's tracks in the snow. 

At Heathrow we had already been notified our flight had been cancelled but we got there to see if there was any information on our next step - nothing!!  There were people sleeping everywhere and it was chaos.  So we went for some food at MacDonalds (this is like midnight now!) - wow a burger has never tasted so good!!  While we were there we searched for hotels available - nothing - so sleep in Heathrow?  We decided to opt for the car, Heathrow's cold hard floor didn't look very appealing.  Luckily I had some of those silver blankets in the car but still we were frozen and every time you moved they crunched.  We must have caught an hour's sleep before we got up to get into Terminal 3 to see what was going on.

At 5am we were in the queue at American Airlines behind a lady who had been there when the desk was open on Saturday - she had been given the customer services number to ring (which just makes you hold for ages and fails to tell you they closed at 5pm!!) or to come back on Sunday when someone will be at the desk at 5am.  Well we waiting till 6am and still no show, so we decided to make our way across to terminal 5 to see if BA had any flights available, terminal 5 was a lot better organised however we were directed to BA's website to book.  We made our way back to terminal 3 to see if there was any sign of AA and still no show - the terminal by now was even more packed and really you could not move at all - you would not believe the mess the place was in unless you had seen it with your own eyes!!

Off we went to MacDonalds for breakfast where we searched for a hotel (finding the Holiday Inn available) and new flights (finding flights with BA 22nd-28th - Christmas in NYC and we would be safe with Wednesday flights - 3 days time no problem!)  So we made our way to the hotel and more queues of people - 2 hours we had to wait to check in there were people everywhere again!  We finally got into our room and I was so pleased to have some peace and quiet and a bed!!!

All Sunday afternoon we tried to get through to Expedia (our booking agent) without any luck.  We finally got through Monday morning only be told to ring back later as hotel reservations wasn't open for them to contact for a refund.  Later that day after 90mins on hold we finally got through and everything was refunded, well 7-10 days from the hotel and up to 12 weeks refund by the airline!!!  We booked another hotel with making sure we got through quickly and checking on the cancellation policy.

Our Statue of Liberty View Room - or is that the M4??
Tuesday was looking good as the temperature had risen to 3 degrees, no more snow and the second runway was clear.  We went round to see my aunt and two cousins and during our visit found our flight had been cancelled - the only BA flight to NYC from terminal 5 to be cancelled, all others were flying.  Just our luck, we couldn't believe it.  So all that for nothing, I cancelled the hotel again no penalty.  Gutted, NYC at Christmas was my dream holiday and we had a tour to the Niagra Falls booked which is something Mark has always wanted to do.
Mark, my cousin and me

We decided to leave Tuesday night with more snow forecast Wednesday morning in the Midlands we thought it best to get home, it took a little over 2 hours to get home this time, bit different to 13 hours!! 

We have another holiday booked leaving Manchester on 26th, returning the 2nd to Lapland so I hope we get to go.  I am sick to death of queueing, of snow (in this country as they can't handle it), of traffic, of lorry drivers, of looking at flight information and sky news (which we have done continuously for the last 4 days!!