Held hostage in Heathrow

Gunnar Bergey and Jeff Bahnson recount nighmarish travel to Belgium

5.5 Days
132 Hours
7920 Minutes

That is three ways of looking at how long our "epic" journey took.

It all started on the way to the Philadelphia International Airport, the new blanket of snow, less than one inch, caused for major delays on the highway and made what would normally be a 40 minute drive take three hours.

Jeff nearly avoided the entire unfortunate situation to come, after quickly checking in all his bags, he skidded into the terminal less than five minutes before the plane took off.

Other than the two hour long wait for the de-icing our flight was pleasant, we watched "Get Him to the Greek" and even managed a solid 4 or 5 hours of sleep. Unfortunately we landed in London Heathrow around two hours after our connecting flight departed.

After getting off our first flight, we got into a line, a line that we thought was long. We didn't know what a long line was, until a few hours from then.

We managed to rebook onto another flight and somehow got upgraded to business class, because our next flight wasn't scheduled to take off for another 8 hours we decided to live large in the business lounge. There was an array of beverages, pastries, fruit, pasta, rice, meats, and salad.

After our second flight out of Heathrow was canceled, we had to go attempt to reclaim our luggage, 3 bikes boxes, 2 suitcases, and a cardboard box filled with wheels and other miscellaneous items.

The British Airways employee informed us that it would be a 3 hour wait for our luggage, and advised us to go and rebook out flight.

We left the baggage claim, without thinking that we would be unable to return and collect our bags. As we came to floor three we encountered a mass of people that surrounded the few British Airways employees at the check-in counter.

A line formed that twisted and turned in every direction. Never again will we complain about being in a "long line." We waited and waited and waited, finally we were approached by a British Airways employee, at least we thought, however he just informed us that all the workers were going home for the night and that we had to leave the terminal. We were told we had to leave, to where, should we just sleep outside on the street?

Eventually we found a line for hotel bookings, after waiting for another 3 hours we were informed that the only room available that night would cost 400 pounds with an 85 pound taxi fee, a combined thousand dollar expense. After this very helpful information we decided that we had no other choice but to sleep on the hard floor of the airport.

After managing at most one hour of sleep during the entire night we were able to position ourselves to the front of the line for re-booking.

We got a spot on the next flight to Brussels and were ecstatic, just a few hours later the flight was canceled along with every other flight going out of terminal 5.

At this point it was only 10:00 am and we figured we would be able to book a cheaper hotel room since it was so early in the morning, there was a hotel for about 200 pounds, only a mile from terminal 5. There was no way we could survive another night at the airport so we headed to the hotel right away.

The first sign that we were becoming stressed and angry was when Jeff snapped at the hotel employee, and for those of you who don’t know Jeff doesn’t snap and ANYONE!! We were early for check in, so Jeff fell asleep on the couch in the lobby. Big problem, a guy came and woke Jeff up and starting yelling at him.

You don’t wake Jeff up while he’s sleeping, Jeff half asleep said to the man as he was walking away, "don’t tell me where I can and cannot sleep", then stumbled back into sleep while sitting upright.

The following day consisted much the same as the previous two, waiting in line getting nothing done, and we went back to the same hotel to spend another night in Heathrow.

That night our parents were able to book us a flight the next morning, we arrived at the airport at 5 the next morning to make sure to get checked in and try to locate our bags.

We were told by several different employees that there was absolutely nothing that could be done to claim bags unless your final destination was Heathrow.

There were people in need of medication the was in checked baggage and instead of an employee trying to locate those bags the airlines were paying the bills for people going to the hospital that were in need of medical assistance.

At this point we hit complete rock bottom, being at the airport would not help us get to our bikes and other checked luggage so we decided to find another mode of transportation.

Every euro-rail train was booked for the next three days and we were not old enough to rent a car, however Geoff Proctor informed us that there was a ferry leaving that night from Hull that we could take to Belgium where he could pick us up.

We jumped on the train to Hull, if everything went smoothly we would arrive with 50 minutes to spare. As our luck would have it, we arrived 30 minutes late and missed the ferry.

We were shattered, heartbroken, and almost at the point of giving up. The taxi driver suggested that we might have gotten booked on another Ferry going to Europort. With 5 minutes to make the decision we called Geoff, and got the go ahead.

We scooted onto the Ferry with 10 minutes to spare, another close call.

In the morning Geoff picked us up and now were at the Izegem house, however we currently have no clothes and more importantly no bikes.
 

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