Hello from the husband from . . . London . . .

Yes, that is correct . . . London.

If you know something of the timeframe of my journey you are probably checking the timestamp on this post and doing some quick time-zone math because something is telling you that I shouldn’t be in London right now.

You’re right.

I’ll tell you the story.

This post is a summary. For the full story, click here.

The summary is:

We flew into terminal 5 (T5) at London’s Heathrow Airport just fine.  I caught a bus to the Yotel at Terminal 4 (T4) to sleep a few hours before our flight to Zambia.

After a few hours of sleep I caught the bus back to T5 to catch our flight back to Zambia.  I had been told that I needed to catch either bus 482, 490, 0r 724.

It turns out that the information was correct.

HOWEVER, after traveling a 482 bus for almost an hour, I learned (the hard way) that you also have to catch it heading IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.  I had gotten on the right bus headed in the WRONG direction!

When I realized my mistake (too late), I did not have time to wait for another bus headed the opposite direction.  Instead I had to run to find a taxi stand and catch a cab back to the terminal.  By the time I found one and arrived at the terminal, it was 6:35 – just half an hour before flight time.  I ran in and told the woman at the customer relations desk my dilemma and she called the gate to let them know.  However, before I had time to go through security (less than one minute later), they had CLOSED the security checkpoint for that flight.  (Apparently, the terminal is so big that if you don’t get through the checkpoint by a certain time, you will not get to your gate in time for the flight and they will not let you in.)

The agent at the checkpoint and the customer service lady got together for a discussion.  Phone calls were made, a supervisor was brought over . . . but the result was the same.  I had missed my flight.  By minutes.

The next flight to Zambia was not scheduled to leave until Wednesday evening.  This was Monday evening.

There was a flight to South Africa which would have taken me to Johannesburg that evening and then connect me to Zambia the following morning, but my ticket would not transfer to a new route.  I was forced to go with the Wednesday flight and a two-day delay. 

And so, as I sit here in Heathrow Airport (Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, that is) and wait to board the plane in about 2 1/2 hours, I am looking forward to picking up where my journey left off.

The morals of the story (which you’ve probably figured out by now): 1) ask, don’t assume, and 2) give yourself plenty of time to navigate a new environment.  Either of those precautions would have spared me two extra days in London.

On the upside, I now know all kinds of neat things about Terminal 5.  I know how to catch the tube into central London to see the sites.  I found out that there is a mini grocery store on the ground level called M&S Simply Foods where you can buy a (relatively) cheap lunch or dinner.  I learned that Cafe Nero on the third level has really comfortable chairs and outlets to plug in your laptop.  And (if you’re willing to pay for it) there is also wireless internet available on either Boingo or T-Mobile hotspots.

So if your travels include a stop off at London’s Heathrow Airport (terminal 5, to be exact), let me know and I would be glad to answer any questions you may have – just ask!

I’ve got all the information.


One Comment

  1. Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh, no!! Praying that is all the negative drama for all of the rest of the trip! For all of you!!

    C – take really good notes! 🙂

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