I wasn’t going to write a post about the trip home…but…you know…

When we booked our flight back in May, we had a connection in Heathrow. It was an hour and ten minutes, and both planes were in Terminal 5. Then, two weeks ago, they changed our departing plane to Terminal 3…

You know we didn’t make the connection. (To be fair, I knew as soon as we got the notice of the terminal change that we wouldn’t make the connection- my husband had thought about checking our bags and I said Nope- let’s just do carry on- another side note…people were amazed that we packed for a week in Europe with just a carryon)

So we aren’t allowed to even go to security to get our flight because Heathrow has a policy about the time you can enter a line to get to a plane, which basically means that when we got on the customer service cue…there were eight not so happy people ahead of us…

Two hours on the first customer service line…

Here’s what I don’t understand- these people working this particular section are supposed to rebook the people who miss their flights…yet they don’t just tap, tap, tap away at a computer…they need some sort of permission, which means that they are on hold. A lot. The family next to us was parents and four kids between I’d say eight and fifteen, trying to get back to I think New Mexico…the agent saw the flight, but by the time the agent got permission, five of the six tickets were gone…

We were originally put on standby. My husband was worried we wouldn’t get on the flight. The agent told us not to worry- he figured at least two people would miss the connection…so there I was rooting for someone to be in the same lousy position I was in. As another lost traveler said to me though- “Well…someone got your seat on your flight, so it all works our in the end”. We were very lucky to be on a flight which left a few hours later. Hours we needed because security at Heathrow is intense.

Here’s the thing about airport security: they are doing this for the safety of all. Can you really complain about then doing their jobs thoroughly?

Of course you can, but should you?

I am a very careful packer. I look at the rules of what we are supposed to do and not supposed to do and I follow them.

The rule for liquids is nothing over 100ml in bottle or jar or tube (slightly more than 3 ounces), and this goes for anything listed in fluid ounces. The sum total of those bottles and jars must fit in a quart size clear plastic bag. I own a clear, quart sized cosmetics bag for this particular purpose (in fact, it’s smaller) I adhere to the rule. (I give my husband the toothpaste and sun block because he carries much less fluid ounces than I do- hello moisturizer, face soap and perfume)

First off- when I was putting my laptop, ipad and clear bag in the security bin, I asked the person if I should put my liquids in the available plastic bags that they had- she said “No- that bag is small enough”.

You know I got flagged. Did everything right, asked if I was OK, and still got flagged…

FYI- so many people get flagged. And not only do they take everything our of your bag…with permission of course (because really, when the security guard says do I have permission to open this bag, are you really in the position to say No?) The person ahead of me must have had forty assorted tubes and such. They made her throw our half of her stuff… Plus- if your bag gets flagged they put this little wand over it, checking for substances. I think I stood waiting for my flagged bag for at least ten minutes.

Now, my husband says he didn’t know this liquid thing was a rule. Of course he doesn’t because I pretty much pack for him and put his liquids in a clear case. My husband got flagged because he didn’t realize his inhaler is counted as liquid and had it in another part of his carryon…

Because we have traveled to a lot of places and never actually had the liquid rule put to the test…Never. And we leave from JFK and Newark most of the time, and we thought security was tough there. We’ve never been flagged in any other European country either.

And seriously- they have more security checkpoints than any other airport I’ve every seen.

But, as stated, can you really complain about securtiy?

Side note: all the security didn’t make me actually feel any safer…

Obviously we made it through security because I’m back at my desk blogging…

The vast majority of people we encountered on the customer service lines were being really good sports- we were maintaining a gallows humor sort of vibe. As our new friends got off the line holding up boarding passes, we would cheer for them… When our agent told us where to go to see if we got off standby, he remarked it was in front of the Prada store. I asked if Prada was cheaper in the airport…because if you don’t keep your sense of humor, you have nothing…For example, one woman kept trying to get ahead in the line: she said I have a problem and you don’t care- I told her to stop cutting in the front because none of us were in that line for fun- we ALL had issues…

As for the issues- I know that my husband and I were very, very lucky. We met people who were not able to be rebooked for DAYS.

DAYS.

So gratitude was in order.

We went to the Gordan Ramsey restaurant- didn’t realize that my first cup of tea in London would be in the airport though…

My only regret was that I didn’t pick up a tin of tea at Fortnum and Mason…

Tomorrow I will wrap up my thoughts on Barcelona and the trip in general.

54 thoughts on “The Flight Home

  1. We have been very lucky with cliffs this summer. We all made all of our connections, even my daughter when she went to Rome. When I went through security they good me to keep my shoes on and not take electronics out of my bag. It made the line move much faster.
    Glad you were able to only have a few hours wait instead of days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My husband flew to Portland last month, and my daughter had South Africa, and this was the first issue. But I consider myself lucky to have gotten through this relatively easily

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you had a safe trip in all areas of your travels. We are trying to plan a trip to San Francisco to visit a daughter and grandchildren ~ I can’t wait to see them, but truly dread the whole airport experience. We will fly out of ATL and that is a pain unto itself. Thanks for sharing all the lovely photos of Spain!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So sorry you had to go through this…unfortunately the need for security is there but with it comes that typical stressed ‘mixed blessing’ scenario – with Catholic guilt over not feeling thankful enough for having it better than others after all is said and done…
    “We ALL had issues” love that, LA!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had to laugh as soon as I saw Heathrow! Really! This is not the summer to fly through there! Plus, it has never been a great airport to fly through, then came them stepping out of the EU and it opened a can of security nightmare worms! Glad to hear you had a good time in Spain! Plus, you now have some cute new shoes to walk around NY. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As you know my mom is a travel agent and she’s doing that rerouting and rebooking thing all day. She says that flights are way overbooked and flights are cancelled constantly these days. I can’t help but wonder if they’re trying to make people stop traveling. I mean why are they calling it “revenge travel”? Why such a negative term? How about Victory travel? You survived COVID and now you get to go on that postponed trip!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. LA,
    Your airport adventure sounds like it was full of anxiety. There’s something to be said for living vicariously through others. Even though the airport was intense, I’m sure your Barcelona vacation was well worth it. The important thing is that you made it home…and you gained new fodder to go along with it. Welcome Home! Mona

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad you made it back home. My husband would only ever let us do carry on bags when we flew, lol. When I have flown myself I have checked my bags a few times. I would have had a major problem with the lady trying to cut in line.
    Great that most of your fellow travelers were able to sta in good humor about everything.
    Sounds like you had a good trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. LOL, the most fun I’ve ever had (extreme sarcasm) was in Europe – Madrid and Frankfurt. In Madrid I went thru their version of TSA but when I got to the international gate I had to go thru TSA again? Which was exasperated by the fact that there were no services at the international gate. So if you needed to visit the toilet you had to leave the international secured area and return thru TSA! Frankfurt was on a connecting flight, when we landed they took all the connecting passengers off on the tarmac and bused us to the connecting gate. They herded us up a stairwell thru their version of TSA then down the gangway – WTH. I also got special attention in the US because I had a handful of coins in my carry on. It was the first time the TSA agent ever saw a Susan B Anthony silver dollar.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Travel seems to be getting harder. I’m glad you got a decent flight home. When my daughter was studying abroad in Rome, she booked tickets to visit London. She didn’t know she had to be at the gate two hours to travel “internationally.” They didn’t let her on the flight and she was so upset she had wasted money that was nonrefundable on her flights and hotel.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad you made it home, LA, and that you kept your sense of humor through the ordeal. My husband and I just traveled with my mother’s ashes. She got checked every time–just the outside of the box. They didn’t open it. But, of course, that meant they went through my entire bag. A lady in front of me in the Anchorage airport had one of those all-purpose tools that includes a knife and pliers. She had to give it up or go put it in her checked bag. This required a rather lengthy phone call to her husband, the tool’s owner. Eventually, she let it go and moved through the line. Luckily, we always allow a little extra time for the initial leg of a flight, since my husband has a load of metal in his body and always requires a pat down. Anyway, welcome home!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It seems like problem free travelers are the exception not the rule. I think the security procedures have gotten out of hand and are clearly not consistent from agent to agent and airport to airport, but what makes me really sad is that we need them in the first place. Welcome home. Looking forward to your wrap up!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As soon as I saw Heathrow, I groaned internally for you. Travelling in & out of the UK at the moment is hell on earth. There’s simply not enough staff to cope after the double whammy of Brexit and Covid. Brexit because lots of Europeans working at airlines & at the airport had to return home. Covid because most airport & airline staff were laid off – then either found better paid/more secure work elsewhere (in some cases vacated by those Europeans returning home), or refused to return to reduced wages and worse terms & conditions of employment, or did return but have to go through another round of security vetting before they can re-start work and there aren’t enough staff to carry out the work, as one of the government’s headline acts was to cut back on civil service staff. I’m going nowhere by plane. If I had to leave the country, I’d probably catch the train to France – going by ferry is yet another hell on earth experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing this information that I had not heard. It puts a different perspective on the issues. I was fortunate to do some international travel pre-9/11. My current attitude towards flying is that I just won’t do it for a variety of reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I can’t say I’ve ever had problems flying into or out of Heathrow, except that one time I was on a flight home that was delayed 90 minutes because of…. rain. It was a super heavy rain, but it still felt silly being delayed by rain in England. I also pack a single carry-on and camera bag for week-long trips. I don’t really need all that much for traveling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My daughter had no problem at all going through Heathrow to and fro South Africa. Honestly, they should never have given us a 75 minute window to make our new flight. The terminal change crushed us. If it were colder and I needed sweaters it might have been an issue, but one week in summer was easy

      Like

  14. I understand at the need for security, and appreciate it. That being said, it seems to me that there ought to be a way to do it more efficiently and consistently. Rules change from airport to airport within our country, which makes no sense. And since we now have basically open borders in many areas, it seems odd that security at airports is so tight. But then again, common sense has never been big in the public arena. I’m glad you got out of Heathrow without too much trouble and are safely home. I’m even more glad that you had such a fabulous trip to Spain! It makes the airport hassle worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even at jfk the rules were different. Our line we didn’t need to take out electronics or liquids, but had to take off shoes. Other lines needed to take those things out but kept on shoes. Shoes off in Spain. Shoes ok in London. The inconsistency is hard

      Like

  15. Glad you made it home without waiting days!! My friend and her husband had to spend the night in the airport when their connecting flight got cancelled. It was a mess, but fortunately they did fly out the next day.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s