Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Stranded in London (part 1)

I was supposed to be back home Saturday evening, but things have taken a turn for the crazy. I wish I could upload the videos and images I took, but my computer is sadly not working and I’m stuck using a library computer. I will try to upload seperately should I find any way to do so.

On my day of departure, I decided to leave for the airport several hours early, with a friend helping me to carry my luggage; even if I ended up bored sitting around, I felt that it would be better to be safe rather than sorry. My luggage was so heavy, really difficult to carry from campus to the tube station. However, the tube is the best deal for transport to the airport and my station’s entrance isn’t very far from the campus gates; it didn’t feel worth it to pay for the shuttle to the airport, since i’d still need to carry my luggage halfway to the station to get to the shuttle anyway. Once I was at the station, kind strangers helped me out, carrying my luggage down any stairs for me and helping me when I switched lines at one point. Such appears to be the British way.

Part way to the airport, it started to snow heavily. When I reached the portion of the journey that is aboveground, I found snow covering the landscape. Beautiful, but apparently not normal for this time of year; Tris and many others told me that I wouldn’t see snow before I left England and that normally they only recieve a tiny bit, usually in January. I’d joked about them jinxing themselves the first time it had snowed, but that had only been a small amount. This was several inches, this time.

When I got to the airport, I tried to check in with Virgin Airlines, but they weren’t letting anyone check in because of the weather; they were afraid of delays and cancelations. Tris was awesome and treated me to a nice dinner of lamb, chorizo and chickpea pie with mash, plus Krispy Kreme donuts while we were waiting but the delays kept piling up. The entire airport had officially closed, and no one, not even the staff, seemed to know what was going on; first I was told to wait for news at 2pm, then 3pm, then 4pm and so on. This was still going on at 7pm, despite the fact that my flight had been for 4:00pm.

Finally, around 7pm or so, Tris was wandering downstairs looking for news when he saw a sign stating that the flight to Newark was checking passengers in! If not for him, I never would have known, as there were no announcements on it as far as I know. After waiting in line, if you can call the mad scamble of people fighting to get to the desk first a line, I found myself handing over my luggage and receiving my ticket. Bidding farewell to Tris and thanking him for helping me out all day, I went in search of my next destination, security!

Finding a line this time was difficult; there were masses of people sitting on the floor waiting for news on their flights, and numerous others standing. I eventually found one of what was apparently two lines, neither moving and neither more official than the other. There, I spent a good hour or more; I read a book I had on me, talked to the American students who were in line next to me, and sent texts to my mother and a friend back home, informing them that my flight was delayed. The security gate, however was not letting anyone go through, and people were receiving conflicting information. The airline workers downstairs were telling us that the flight would be delayed, but that we’d be allowed through security once the runways had been cleared, while the Heathrow workers upstairs were telling us everything was canceled and that we should head home. By 9pm, the official announcement was made that all flights were canceled. Papers were handed out giving us information, but little of it made sense, and the airline was refusing to give me my luggage back, telling me that I needed to wait until the next day to retrieve it from them.

I didn’t know what to do, and was very low on minutes for my phone. Here, they only charge you for outgoing calls, not calls you receive, so I called my friend and hung up before I could be charged, and then had him call Ifsa-Butler’s London office to tell them to call me. The staff member helped me find other Ifsa-Butler students who were wandering the airport, not knowing what to do or what to expect. I was surprised to find Ashley, one of my flatmates, still in the airport; her flight was supposed to have left early in the morning, but apparently had been delayed by the plane being late, then was caught in the snow as they were preparing to leave. She’d been stuck on the plane for over seven hours before they’d decided to cancel.

None of us were willing to leave without our luggage, so after updating Ifsa-Butler’s London branch, we prepared to stay the night, fighting for information and new flights out.

To be continued when library opens again tomorrow.

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