Unprepared for Traumatic Trip Start

I had made a non-stop reservation SFO-LHR with United. They changed this to a stopover in Washington (IAD) with a 44 minute layover. I didn't like this, but decided it would probably work. The flight from SFO was 2 hours late in departing, so I missed my connection at IAD. It was 10pm. I stood in line at "Customer Service" for two hours before getting vouchers for hotel and taxi. I was re-scheduled for a flight to LHR the next morning at 9:30am. That flight was 3 hours late departing which put the plane into London at about 12:30pm. I had a room reservation in Bath for that night, but couldn't get there at that hour. Very anxiously, I walked into the terminal hoping something would show up as a place for me to sleep a few hours. Out of options, I walked to the "Hotel Reservations" desk and asked them to find me a room, "not too expensive." They found me a room, way more expensive than I wanted. But I gave them my credit card, got my reservation paper, caught a cab outside, and was in bed at the Sheraton shortly thereafter. Many people on my plane were in similar situations, but had phones and maybe some backup plans. The lesson seems to be: sometimes things go wrong, but it isn't the end of the world. My trip went smoothly after a good night's sleep; I got to Bath the following day. I was stuck with paying for both a very expensive hotel room at Heathrow and a night's lodging in Bath which I was not able to use.

Posted by Marilyn
Mentor on the Lake, OH, USA
251 posts

Hope the rest of your trip is smooth sailing.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

This trip was April 2012. I've been home for almost two months and am completely recovered both physically and psychologically. The rest of my pre-planned trip went smoothly. I got to the CT for a couple of nights to check out the flood-damaged towns there. Most of the month was chilly. After returning home I paid my credit card bill and saw a doctor about my knee.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7818 posts

Swan,, it is a shame how things can be completely out of our control and affect our trips and cost us money,, very frustrating. Glad to hear that rest of trip went smoothly.

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1391 posts

Did you have trip insurance? Sometimes they also will pay for hotels that are a result of delays. Just a thought...

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

So many problems stemming from the US end of our travels. My son who works with transportation said it's because we're using outdated radar while the rest of the world has modernized. All the best to you Swan.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

The first delay at SFO was blamed on a rainstorm the previous night. The second delay at IAD was caused by a mechanical problem discovered only as we were prepared to depart. After evacuating the plane and having all the px hang around the departure gate, we were assigned to a second plane. It was an impressively quick boarding, as we were warned that the curfew in London required that we leave soon or spend the night at IAD.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2888 posts

Swan, it sounds like you handled this all very well. Sometimes this stuff happens and it sounds like you dealt with it as well as you possibly could. I had a similar situation once at IAD on that morning flight to London a couple of years ago. We boarded the plane and during the check they discovered a mechanical problem that they were unable to fix. They did the same thing; got another plane and offloaded us and boarded us really quickly on the substitute plane. Even though we arrived in London after midnight, I was still pleased to get there on the same day.

Posted by Paula
Arlington, TX, USA
278 posts

Swan, it sounds like this was a really bad start but I wanted to correct you on one point. An evacuation refers to leaving the aircraft through window
exits (over the wings) and through the galley doors via slides That would be a true emergency and I hope this was not the case.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

Apparently we officially "off-boarded." Exiting thru windows was not involved. Later, at LHR, I realized I probably could have stopped at United's "Help Desk" and asked for a room voucher in London. I was so disgusted with UA's "help" by then, that I didn't consider it. It is always better to be inconvenienced by arriving late than by having a plane crash. We arrived safely and I did manage to mumble a "thank you" to the pilot upon exiting at LHR.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2432 posts

Swan, I'm glad you overcame your rough start. On the third day of a 3-month trip in Italy, I fell at the train station in Milano. Bruising went away in about two weeks, pain remained for a month longer. Everyone was helpful and kind, and the day after my fall I was able to walk 3 kilometers over flat ground, but had a problem with stairs for almost two months. It's the inevitability of traveling and aging, I guess, but the fall was my own fault. I noticed a lot of people with leg and foot injuries on that trip, apparently the cobblestones are winning.