It is 9:14 a.m. and I am eating microwave macaroni and cheese and drinking coffee, so yay for Travel Day.
Well, at least I hope it is travel day. Online check in did not go well last night, oddly a repeat of my June experience with British Airways and Finnair. Luckily this time I knew to call right away. We do have seat assignments on all the flights and the folks on the phone at both American and British Airways can see our ticketed seats but for some delightfully mysterious reason we still can’t check in online and have to arrive extra early at the airport to fuss with it there.
Before my Helsinki trip I don’t remember ever having this experience. Maybe it’s because we switched this ticket from our original Prague itinerary? Or maybe the systems just don’t play nice anymore, or maybe it’s some new problem we will discover at LAX today in oh just a few hours.
The most important thing I have learned so far is that many of the phone and gate agents like to advise you to “just fix it when you get to Heathrow.” This is seriously some of the worst advice ever (right up there with “Blue mascara is totally OK for work…” and “He is probably just scared of his feelings and that’s why he hasn’t called.”)
If anyone ever tries to tell you to fly all the way to London and “fix” your missing boarding pass/weird connecting flight problem at Heathrow, stand your ground. Unless you have a 22-hour connection and a lot of patience and maybe LSD, it is always better to address it before you board the first leg of your flight.
(Also, if he were into you he would have called.) (Blue mascara is still OK in my book!)
Heathrow is a ginormous airport.
LHR is huge, has multiple layers of security, and there’s no automatic tram system. You know the easy train system at DFW in Dallas? You would think LHR would have that same kind of system, seeing as it is the seventh busiest airport on planet earth.
But at Heathrow you go up an escalator and down another six times until you find a line to get on an overheated bus and the trick is you have to get on the one bus going to your one stop. The bus lurches and rumbles through what appears to be a parking lot, forty miles of concrete, and a tunnel. You then disembark and walk through another maze, where you finally arrive at the terminal and have to go through security all over again. Yup. Take your shoes off, get your ipad out and stand in a TSA-style security line even though you just came out of an airplane.
The trickiest detail is that you can’t even go through this whole process (including getting on the bus) if you don’t have a boarding pass to your next flight.
So if your gate agent in Los Angeles or Atlanta or Minneapolis tells you to just get to Heathrow and figure it out there, don’t accept that as an answer. If the one harried connections assistant can’t sort you out in the hallway, you won’t have any option but to leave the connecting flight track and go to the ticketing office for your airline. Finding a ticketing office in the warren of buildings after a trans-Atlantic flight (while claiming your luggage, and then re-checking it?) is crazytalk.
So maybe I am having this experience because I was meant to share that information with you. If you ever in the future experience this and this longass rambling monologue about Heathrow helped you out, well, it was destiny!
Ahhhhhhh I gotta go pack! I have not been on my A game for travel prep this time! Wish me luck. xo