Grrr: Our Unfortunate London Heathrow Misconnect

In a earlier publish I reviewed our wonderful American Airways enterprise class flight from Charlotte to London, as we have been enroute to Greece. In that installment I hinted at how our flight ended on a bitter observe, so on this publish I needed to speak about what occurred.

Particularly, we misconnected. Let me observe upfront that this wasn’t particularly anybody’s fault — when you’re a frequent traveler you simply should drift and make the most effective of each scenario, and there’s no cause to get bent out of practice. For probably the most half it’s a miracle how easily airline operations run, particularly when you think about the complexity of all of it.

Typically issues go unsuitable. I believe we simply hope that it doesn’t occur after we’re taking a really particular journey with our moms on what’s already a really lengthy journey day. However we’re blessed to even be capable to take this journey, so in the long run it was no large deal. I nonetheless needed to share what occurred, although, as a result of it was nearly comical what number of issues went unsuitable directly.

Our itinerary was most likely too good to be true

We have been flying from Tampa to Charlotte to London to Athens on a single American Airways award ticket (with the final section on British Airways), after which we had a separate ticket from Athens to Chania on Aegean Airways.

It was a protracted journey day — about 27 hours door-to-door — however it appeared like the most suitable choice:

  • We might have spent an evening at Heathrow (quarantining in our room) to separate up the journey a bit, however there had been so many tales of horrible immigration traces (as much as seven hours), and I didn’t need to threat it with my mother
  • We have been fortunate in that our London to Athens flight was speculated to be operated by a British Airways 787-9, and I had managed to assign all of us first-class seats, which might have been the swankiest intra-Europe flight ever
  • Our connection at Heathrow was scheduled to be 2hr10min, which I’d think about to be cheap; in the end I didn’t need to plan an extended layover, since our journey was lengthy sufficient as is

Sadly issues didn’t go fairly as deliberate…

First our jet bridge broke…

The winds weren’t working in our favor throughout the Atlantic, and regardless of an on-time departure, we ended up touchdown about 20 minutes late. We nonetheless had 1hr50min, which ought to have been greater than sufficient time. In spite of everything, we have been already at Terminal 5, and I might even see our connecting aircraft within the distance!

View as we pulled into our gate at London Heathrow

The seatbelt signal turned off and we waited for the jet bridge to strategy the aircraft, however… it didn’t. For about 10 minutes the jet bridge simply didn’t transfer, at which level the captain introduced there was an issue with the jet bridge, and that they’re engaged on fixing it. He stated it ought to hopefully be not more than quarter-hour.

Our uncooperative jet bridge

At that time the captain up to date us that it was decided that the jet bridge was truly damaged. He defined that they’d get stairs and buses, and could be deplaning us by way of the rear of the aircraft. I’m undecided I get how that’s extra environment friendly than simply pushing again and going to a unique gate (presumably they’ve some spares proper now, and that may additionally remedy the problem of boarding the aircraft when it departs once more), however no matter.

Suffice to say that it was a complete cluster. About 20 minutes later some buses confirmed up, although there have been nonetheless no stairs.

We see you, buses!

Then it was one other 20 minutes till they introduced out stairs. At this level we had been sitting on the gate for about an hour.

Lastly they began placing individuals in buses to the terminal, however they have been restricted to roughly 20 individuals per bus to permit for distancing. Because the stairs have been on the rear of the aircraft, we have been on the final bus. That took one other 40 minutes.

Normally I’d assume it is a fairly cool view

Individually everybody was doing what they might, however the collective incompetence and lack of coordination among the many floor crew was sort of unimaginable (and there’s no level in even detailing that).

We ended up attending to the terminal round our scheduled departure time to Athens, so sadly we had misconnected. We headed to the transit desk, the place the subsequent spherical of enjoyable began…

Then American Airways’ techniques have been down…

We headed to the British Airways transit desk at Heathrow Terminal 5, and defined we had misconnected and wanted to be rebooked. The agent was pleasant and tried to be useful.

Heathrow Terminal 5 switch desk

After he typed for a couple of minutes, the dialog went one thing like this:

British Airways agent: “Oh, you’re on an American Airways ticket? Effectively you’ll should go and see them. However their techniques have been down for over an hour, so you’ll have to attend a bit.”
Me: “Have you learnt when their techniques can be working once more?”
British Airways agent: “We don’t know. However you may have a seat and so they can come and get you.”
Me: “However couldn’t you assist rebook us since this section is on British Airways, and also you even have a three way partnership with American? I do know it’s not your fault, however I assumed the entire level of the three way partnership was to create a seamless expertise for purchasers, and this… isn’t.”
British Airways agent: “I want there was one thing I might do, however you’ll simply have to attend.”
Me: Is there any likelihood you can at the least attempt to defend us on the subsequent flight till American can reissue the ticket, in order that we may be positive we will get to Greece as we speak? We now have a connecting flight from there on a separate ticket, and I’d prefer to rebook that as nicely.”
British Airways agent: “Let me see what I can do. Simply have a seat over there.”
Me: “I actually respect that you simply’re attempting, once more, I do know it’s not your fault. Thanks on your assist.”

Nice, we misconnected, and American’s techniques had been down for an hour and so they didn’t know once they’d be again up. A minimum of the agent was good, in comparison with one of many different brokers who was coping with a passenger who was on our flight, who dared to e-book a British Airways connection on a separate ticket.

The British Airways agent actually laughed within the buyer’s face when he requested about being rebooked on the subsequent British Airways flight:

“Ha, you assume we’re going to reimburse you since you determined to e-book two tickets? No, I’m going to let you know what’s going to occur, you’re going to be paying us for a brand new ticket!”

Anyway, we sat down on the ground within the transit space (since there’s barely any seating), and about half-hour later the British Airways agent discovered us and instructed us he was capable of get us rebooked since American’s techniques have been nonetheless down. I thanked him for his assist, as a result of he might have simply taken the “not my downside” strategy, however he didn’t. It pays to be good to frontline staff.

Then there was an Aegean rebooking journey…

I had deliberately booked us versatile tickets on Aegean Airways from Athens to Chania, within the occasion of a misconnect. Suffice to say that got here in useful. Whereas sitting on the ground on the Heathrow transit desk I began attempting to rebook our flight on Aegean, since I noticed the final flight of the night had simply three seats left on the market.

Our transit desk view whereas ready

Aegean’s web site claims you may simply make modifications on-line, and I used to be pleasantly shocked when with just some clicks I used to be capable of rebook us on that flight and even concern boarding passes. Effectively, at the least I used to be impressed till I noticed “standby” written on the boarding passes, which isn’t what we have been hoping for. The earlier web page made it appear to be it will be a confirmed change.

I phoned up Aegean in hopes of an agent with the ability to assist. After being on maintain for over half-hour, the (pleasant) agent claimed there was a “technical error.” She stated she was on the opposite line with the “technical division,” and requested if she might name me again in a couple of minutes. Wow, a name again? That’s superior service, and one thing I want extra airways would do!

Sadly over two hours later I hadn’t acquired a name again (regardless of being instructed it will be minutes), and our reservation nonetheless didn’t mirror the change. I known as once more, spoke to another person, and defined the scenario. Once more, he promised to name me again after talking to the “technical division.”

Since we have been about to board our flight, I used to be nearly prepared to only e-book a brand new itinerary altogether, as a result of the danger was too nice. Three new tickets price lower than the night time we’d forfeit at our lodge if we wouldn’t make it to Chania that night time. He assured me the tickets could be reissued, and positive sufficient, once I went to check-in at Athens Airport, we have been confirmed on the flight, although the reservation wasn’t up to date on-line. Whew.

I’m glad it was confirmed, as a result of the flight ended up being oversold, and so they have been begging for volunteers.

Flying inside Greece isn’t significantly enjoyable!

Backside line

In the event you journey sufficient you’ll little question run into some operational points, which is to be anticipated. I believe all of us hope that our “particular” journeys aren’t those which have these points, however generally that’s simply how stuff works out.

On this case we misconnected at Heathrow as a result of a damaged jet bridge, and it took about two hours for everybody to be deplaned. Stuff didn’t get a lot better as soon as we have been off the aircraft, from American’s techniques being down, to Aegean being horrible about rebooking.

Happily my mother was a terrific sport, and we’re fortunate that we nonetheless made all of it the way in which to Chania the identical day, even when it was a really lengthy journey. There are plenty of logistical dangers and challenges to touring these days, and on this case a three-stop routing was our greatest wager, so we will’t be too upset about this.

Now we’re in paradise, so all’s nicely that ends nicely!

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