[ Dec. 2010 ] At least our flight took off after around one hour delay, which was nothing in this extreme weather situation.
I was relaxed on my seat when there was an announcement saying that Heathrow was shut down because of the snow and this flight would go to East Midland Airport.
Even then, I did not think too much of it.
East Midland does not sound too bad…never heard of it, but probably around Norwich? But no, it was not.
It was somewhere between Manchester and Birmingham, not far from Nottingham.
We landed there midday of Saturday.
The stuff of Lufthansa said that they were waiting for more information so we had to wait just sitting there.
I cannot remember now how long it was but after a while, they said they decided to get us off here and let us choose either coach or train to get to Heathrow.
And because we were the last to have landed here, we had to wait for the steps to arrive.
And that took quite a long time, and a funny thing was that a middle aged Italian man went up to the front, saying ‘I ‘ve got only today to look at London as my flight back is tomorrow morning! I have to have a look at least some of London!’ as if he would jump off out of the aeroplane.
Well, he could not, of course.
So we all went into the small terminal and found a chaos.
We did not know whom to ask about the coach or train, but eventually, found that the airline was organising coaches but not train, and the train fare was as much as £50, and to get to the station there was a shuttle bus which carried only 10 or fewer people at a time, and the taxi fare to get to the station was around £12.
So the next question was when the coaches came.
A lot of different information came and went…
In the end, we got on a coach at around 4:10 pm.
First half an hour or so was smooth, though the road was covered with snow.
But after that bus did not move because of the heavy traffic jam.
And the bus driver insisted that he had to take a 45 min.break after a few hours’ drive which was a law.
The frustrating thing was that just to get to the service area, it took nearly one hour because of the jam.
After the break, climbing back up the coach, sitting there, moving not much, hours after hours.
Italian people, of course, started talking.
One man with a daughter asked me to call his booked hotel so that they should keep their room.
Apparently this trip was the gift for daughter’s 18th birthday.
He was saying to her,’Why did you want to come to London, not Dubai or somewhere?’.
And it was the first time for them to fly to London.
Hearing that, the men nearby were saying to him,’ We flew many times to London and never had a problem.
When you come to London next time, call us first so that we can avoid your flight’.
That sort of conversation died down gradually, when we approached midnight and passed that.
I kept repeating sleeping and waking up for many times.
When the driver finally said in his most tired voice, ‘Welcome to Heathrow’, it was around 3:30am on Sunday.
11 hours’ coach journey— I could fly to Japan from Europe…
It was exactly like the refugee camp, which I had seen only on TV.
I have to say we were luckier compared with those people…
We knew where we should head for taxi and did not waste more of our time after getting off the coach, and the queue for the taxi was bearable, but I wonder what those first visitors did after arriving at Heathrow…..