12 Days ago I was due to arrive in Bermuda. 11 days ago, I got here. 3 days ago my bag joined me. What do you do when all carefully laid plans are thrown up in the air and completely out of your control. Take your mothers advice and ‘go gracefully with change?’
Despite the chaos caused by the Gatwick drones on Thursday Dec 20th I managed to reach my desired destination, visiting my sister for Christmas. And it has taken me these last 8 days to summarise the 48 hours that it took to get 6 hours across the Atlantic. Unlike Twain, I have, thankfully, had time to shorten this story …a bit.
Thursday morning after getting the red-eyed bus to Dublin, I checked my luggage and made my way towards the boarding gates. With time to lounge I somewhat naively breathed a sigh of relief that my work was done and I was on my way.
10 mins before boarding Aer Lingus flight to Gatwick, the air crew announced the flight was cancelled! We had 2 options, divert to Heathrow or London City Airport. Both leaving within the hour. Thinking positively and happy for options I thought Heathrow, and as I waited for my turn to pick up my boarding pass I started imagining the race from Heathrow to Gatwick to catch the Bermuda flight, presuming the airport re-opened on time. Oh dear, a moment of panic. Am I being naïve?, Will it work? Will I get caught in limbo? With no response from my sister I called my mother.and get an instant clear response ‘Go, she said, get out of Dublin, get to London and definitely Heathrow, you have options there’. I was the last passenger to get re-directed to the Heathrow flight and I was told my bag would probably not make it. I hoped naively that it would, but it didn’t and in Heathrow I filled out the necessary forms with baggage claims.
Then a call from my sister confirmed Gatwick was still closed and Bermuda flight was cancelled!. With a growing sense that time was of the essence I start the race from T2 to T5 to British Airways ticketing desk optimistically believing I’d would get re-directed. With just 8 people ahead of me I didn’t expect it to take 1.5 hrs to have my turn. I hadn’t eaten since 7am but adrenaline was keeping me pepped. That rotten twisted sensation of being in a race, standing still!.
Finally BA crew had me on their system searching flights, Friday flights were going fast and were only going through the US. Ahh crap, my ESTA visa for the US is out of date. So I step aside, whip out my laptop and on my hands and knees I fill out the online application, knowing it can take 72 hours to process, but you gotta’ try anyway.
My sister was running through alternatives routes at her end too but options were closing down fast. Back at the ticketing desk I watch the last flight filling up, repeatedy and desperately hitting refresh on my email hoping to get the ESTA approval email. The email never came. The next flight out was Sunday.
This was the first time I felt my heart drop. I love a mis-adventure but on this occasion I really did not want to be in London. As grateful as I was for the effort the BA team were going to to help, I started to doubt the whole trip. Maybe I should just let this go, maybe I should even go home, I couldn’t picture myself being in London for 2 days on my own.
Then another text came through from my sister, ESTA approved!!! She’d logged in to the ESTA website and had been hitting refresh there! God bless her little OCD tendencies. ‘ESTA approved!’ I yelped. Bernadette, the BA crew actually whooped back and got back on the screen! And tappity tap, she got me the last seat on flight to Bermuda, via Boston with an overnight in Boston, and 40 mins to board!
She handed me the boarding pass and directed me towards customs!! Boom I’m off and I ran 200yrds, then queued in customs for 20mins, steadying my breath and thinking positively. And off again, running through the airport, trying to stay cool. I made it and I’m finally on board, I immediately felt the adrenaline burn out and the shutters coming down. Just before I dosed off I heard the captain announce an apology for the delay as the engineers had found a ‘minor flaw with the plane’. Being a bit wired-tired I laughed out loud, got a few strange looks then I passed out. I woke an hour later as the plane took off, relieved, I presumed they’d fixed the flaw… or am I being naïve I thought!
Needless to say I made it to Bermuda, and I started writing the journey down so I could leave it behind. Writing caused me to muse on the mental dance played between being optimistic and being naïve. I remember being accused in the past of being naively optimistic! But honestly, I cant think of a single negative thought that would have helped this journey along. For 2019 I’m choosing to continue to choose positivity even at the risk of being called naïve.
Funnily while I was thinking about these things, my mother commented on my ‘I’ve arrived’ facebook post ‘looking at your footprints…blue sea and changing tides…go gracefully with changes’ I can’t help but think that I’m not the only fairy in the family.