A beer before bed, Gatwick airport
Today is the rough day. It happens every trip……and it’s still not fun. We can’t check into our hotel until 4 pm, so we’re sitting in a pub across the street from Victoria station and I’m power chugging lattes. We’ve had a bit of lunch and are doing everything we can to stay awake.
This is not unusual. Dealing with the time changes is a part of international travel. You deal with it and move on. Usually the first day is a bit tough and after that we’re fine. The key is to keep moving and keep your mind occupied. We are somewhat hamstrung by the fact that I have a pack on my back that weighs around 35 pounds and one hanging off my front weighing 15 pounds. It would be much lighter in the summer, but we’re going skiing and we have to carry clothes for that.
Laurie’s packs do not weigh as much as mine as she is a smaller person and her stuff is smaller. Her main pack weighs under 28 pounds. I would guess her front pack is around 10. Similar and proportional but lighter than mine. Unless we want to pay to check these bags (around 18 bucks a bag in central London), we’re stuck with them and they limit our mobility. We only have a few hours to kill anyway, so we’re holding down a booth in a great pub.
Our flight from Nashville to London on British Airways was possibly one of the most pleasant flights I’ve ever had. The crew was top notch and took care of us well. The in seat entertainment system had movies, TV shows, even games you could play against others on the plane or against yourself. Each in seat unit had a remote control that took care of playback, volume, lights above your seat, and damn near everything else but flying the plane. If you flipped it over, it has a full qwerty keyboard and a Nintendo style game controller for gaming.
The food was very good, unusual for airline fare. I also have to say that getting on the plane in Nashville then getting off in London is a MUCH better way to do this than layovers and such. Seating was in a 3/3/3 (three on the left, three in the middle, three on the right) seating configuration. It’s a wee bit tighter than the 2/4/2 on some other planes, but airlines are doing this more and more to maximize profits.
We did fine with our flight. We had two in the middle and were very happy to find that the third seat was unoccupied! Laurie was able to lay down and sleep some. I got around 3 ½ hours of sleep and Laurie got a bit more. When I want to sleep, I put a movie on that I’ve seen before. My logic is that this is less likely to keep me awake. I slept through most of Pulp Fiction, and almost all of Clueless. My noise cancelling headphones that I bought at Unclaimed Baggage in Alabama really worked and helped a lot with the noise.
Pub lunch, we share a big fish and chips and Laurie has a great tomato soup.
Upon arrival in London, we were in no hurry to get off the plane as we don’t have to make another flight until tomorrow. We went through passport control, customs, claimed our bags, and took the tube (subway) into London to Victoria Station. Total time from landing to sitting in a pub in central London chugging lattes was right at two hours. In my book, that’s borderline phenomenal. Now we just have to stay awake long enough to get to our hotel.
We are staying in a hotel that is actually inside the airport terminal. We have a 6:30 flight tomorrow morning and figured it is a lot easier that way. We will be taking the Gatwick Express from Victoria station in a while and hope to check in at 4 p.m. sharp when check in starts. We’re both nodding and trying to stay awake. We had originally planned on dropping our stuff off at the hotel and going into the nearby town of Horley for dinner. It’s a ways off….but I’m pretty skeptical and don’t think we’ll make it.
As best we can tell, the line to the airport information booth is around 3 plus hours long. Not fun.
Fast forward 7 hours….and things have taken a pretty weird turn. We arrived at Gatwick to find out that ALL flights are cancelled, and they don’t know when they’ll start them back. Drones were apparently flown over the runways to disrupt air traffic on one of the busiest weeks of the year. I still haven’t been asleep and we’ve been working hard and fast trying to figure out what our next move is. There is only one flight a day to Dubrovnik…..and we’re supposed to be on it.
Solid information is non-existent. We are due to fly out at 6:30 a.m., and need to be downstairs to check our bags around 4:30 a.m. At present we have no clue if they’re even going to open the airport back up tomorrow. British Airways says the flight is “on time” but they’re quick to say that the government has to open the airport back up in order to fly out. We’re glued to the tv and digging on the internet, and have no more information than we did when we got here.
Toughing it out at Gatwick. Poor guy.
We are, however, luckier than some. We had a hotel reservation and we have a place to sleep. The airport cancelled flights for 110,000 plus people today, and the news says there isn’t a hotel room for at least 20 miles. There are thousands upon thousands of people sleeping in the terminal tonight. The airport authority keeps stringing everyone along saying “it will be closed until at least X o’clock”, only to barrel right past that several times.
I plan on getting up several times during the night to check flight status, so we know what we’re doing. I haven’t had but a few hours of sleep in the past two days and I need to crash. I’ll fill everyone in on more tomorrow. Maybe we’ll know where we’re going and what we’re going to be doing tomorrow. Wish us luck.