A chaotic second time in London

This was my second time in London, though the first one being described on this blog, because this experience really has to be shared, as it was quite traumatic for me in a good and a bad way, since the first minute… Some of you are already used to my “misadventures“, my Interrail is probably one of the best examples (and some about Peru that I also have to write…), so here’s another one!

Last Friday, January 18th, exactly one week after my 30th Birthday! I decided to treat myself with a trip alone somewhere! So, London it was! Cool destination, just “right there”, cheap and perfect for a weekend escape! Let’s do it, I thought…

So, after making sure I would have a couch to surf, I missed my surfing times quite a lot, I booked my ticket! Almost everything assured for a great weekend! Until…, the day I had to travel…

First problem: taxi driver arrived late, and it was quite tight with time for my flight. According to the taxi call center, it was my fault because I booked the taxi just two hours before… yeah, because Cork is huge and they have a lot of bookings…, yeah right.. Not sure if I’ll use their services again…

Squirrel at Hyde Park
Squirrel at Hyde Park

Arrived at the airport, actually on time and with a nice discount because I booked the taxi online (cheaper not better), I went to the gate…, so far so good until…

Second problem: flight delayed 2 hours. I immediately texted my host, and I let him know I would arrive late… My last experience to London was the same, delayed flight, and with that in mind, I booked the bus for two hours after the expected arrival just to play safe! Nicely done, Gil! Thinking ahead! But…

Third problem: the flight was delayed ANOTHER 2 hours! FUCK!

Arriving in London, everything white! Actually, it was gorgeous! London is really beautiful when in white, but I still had to go to the city center…

Fourth problem: Obviously, I couldn’t use my ticket (easyBus), because I was way too late for that one! They could have a more permissive option, but again…, cheaper not better! I had to book another bus ticket, through another company which actually was cool, if not…

Fifth problem: The bus stop that was nearest my host’s place wasn’t the one I booked the ticket for, because the lady gave me the wrong information…, I had to get a taxi to get there…, but…

Sixth problem: The GPS gave the wrong information regarding my host’s place, I spend 30 minutes trying to find his house at 2 am in freaking cold London! But I did it, and it was fine!

Next day in London was a relaxing day, I’ve been there before and I just wanted an escape, so no running to see everything, no disappointment for not seeing everything either. I just did what I really like, getting lost in a city and enjoy it! I did it! Saturday was a cool day!

I went home quite early, and I spend the whole night at home just reading, not even going out to the crazy Londoner night life! I have a lot of night life in Cork, I was there to relax!

Sunday, just a walk through Hyde Park, breakfast with my host, and a lot of chat! That’s one of the things I love more about hospitality websites, the social part where we get to know real people with real stories, very relaxing time and quite interesting…

Did I say relaxing? Oh…, wait…

Seventh problem: easyBus let you take any bus between one hour before your booking schedule up to one hour after it. I managed to take the bus before mine, just to play safe, so I could get on time to the airport. I thought the traffic could be an issue…, and I was right! We were stuck in the middle of the highway in direction to the airport! AAARRGGGG!!!

However, since I left London quite early, I managed to arrive on time to my flight. No problem here, let’s go to the boarding gate…

Eighth problem: Which boarding gate? The boards had information regarding one boarding gate, then it disappeared, then it changed to another gate…, arrggg…, let’s see what happens next…

Being at the actual gate, my father called me to tell me he saw in the news that they were canceling a lot of flights in London due the bad weather. Which bad weather? It wasn’t even snowing! And the snow outside was like 1cm hight?? I told him that I was already queueing to the gate, and that it was everything fine…

Ninth problem: Now the interesting part…, all of us, at the queue, got a text from ryanair informing that the flight was delayed 2 hours… CRAP! But we waited there for a while, until…

Tenth problem: On the speakers, they informed us a BIG list of canceled flights…, and guess which one was the last in the list? Cork! And it gets better…, we had to get outside the lounge area, really outside the departing area, to get reallocated to a new flight. I had a feeling that this wasn’t over yet…, so I run!

Eleventh problem: NOOOOOO!!!! What a HUGEEEEE QUEUE!!!!! And it got even bigger! The queue was, probably without exaggeration, more than 3 thousand people! In front of me was like 100? Yeah, I was almost at the beginning of the queue, not that bad…

I have a lot of problems, but being awkwardly sociable isn’t one! I talked with everyone around me and I managed to get entertained during the whole time I was in that queue (which is going to be another problem listed below). Doing that, I was comfortable enough to ask them to take care of my luggage while I had to go to the toilette…

Twelfth problem: Diarrhea! Oh, it gets better and better! Luckily enough, I was so stressed that I did what I had to do in a few seconds, and I went back to the queue… They had my luggage there, with an iPad inside and a Nikon D5100… I left some expensive stuff to some stranger I had just met… Between that and having to go to the back of the queue, I decided to trust them, after all, I trusted my life every time I did couch surfing. In my opinion, we should trust others! Nothing happened, and I am glad I trusted them.

Thirteenth problem: No cellphone battery! There were sooo many people there, that even for the sockets people queued, I couldn’t even charge my phone! I had low battery, but it was enough to call my brother and ask him to try to find me another option to get back to Cork and to let my manager know that I wouldn’t work the following day…

Fourteenth problem: The first two hours we just moved two meters… No joking, really! It took us two hours to move two meters, because Ryanair thought one person to handle with 3000 customers was enough!!! Is this normal???? At some point, they added two more guys, and the queue started to move a little bit faster.

A chaotic second time in London - Pinterest
A chaotic second time in London – Pinterest

It was actually quite funny, people around me were with a really good sense of humor, making fun of the whole situation. London stops with a few flakes of snow, while the nordic countries keep working with REAL snow, the fact that Ryanair being the only company there with a queue, because the other ones took care of their customers, says a lot about the situation. We even drunk beer while in the queue!

Then, the different kinds of sense of humor, everyone was relaxed there (except a hungarian guy), what could we do? Only wait and see what happens…

Fifteenth problem: We spend 5 hours and a half in that damn queue! Just to get another flight ticket! It was insane, and I don’t want to think about those that had to check out their luggage and arrived later to the queue!

The stories around me were even scarier, some people were INSIDE the aircrafts when they got to know that their flights were canceled, for TWO HOURS!!!! And they had to pay for the refreshments while stuck inside the aircraft…, for TWO HOURS! Yeah, I was one of the lucky ones among them…

My new flight was scheduled for 9am, while the original one was scheduled for 9pm the day before! Exactly 12 hours “delay”, if we can call it a delay… No rest at all, I was lucky to have a proper dinner before this whole mess, so no hunger as well, just a wasted night at Stansted Airport…

Sixteenth problem: Again at the queue to the boarding gate, our flight was delayed again, but just half an hour. And while there, my brother texted me letting me know that it was snowing A LOT in Cork! Thank you bro! When someone is stressed, and without sleeping, let them know that they might face even more problems! Well played!

But no, snow in Cork wasn’t an issue. Guess the main issue was lack of de-icing liquid, and apparently that was not the airport’s fault, but the airline company that should ensure that they would have enough for these kind of situations. Ryanair is a cheap company, and they really don’t care about their passengers. They didn’t add new flights to the board to replace the canceled ones, they just moved their customers to the next available flights. They are cheap, and sometimes cheap is crap.

I didn’t work that day, I was exhausted, grumpy, and stressed. Better to avoid people when in this mood…

Ryanair? I’ll avoid them in the future, and cheap is definitely not the way to do it.

Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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