So sit right back and you’ll hear a tale. The tale of our fateful trip…
…when we traveled and got stranded in London due to, what else, Icelandic volcanic ash.
interview by Al Jazeera
View our interview by Al Jazeera, a summary of our story of being stranded, as we waited in our hotel for ANY news that could tell us we were finally going home.
After a lovely week in London, we were excited to head home as we were shuttled to Heathrow.
RIGHT when our plane was in the runway in line to take off…
The pilot announced that all planes were to be grounded in 12 minutes due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Since we were just a LITTLE over 12 minutes from taking off, we had to stay. Back off the plane, back through the customs line, and waiting for direction from our airline as to what we had to do next.
We were directed to stay at a local inn just 2 minutes from the airport. The rate for the room was usually only 29 British pounds (or $44). However, the inn booked up very quickly with lots of other fellow strandees and they charged everyone 120+ British pounds/night (or ~$182).
It was crowded.
Every morning, more and more people came because their tours or trips were done and they became fellow strandees.
We got many suggestions to go out, explore London, have fun! But, unfortunately, we were told to stay at the inn and wait for a phone call from the airlines because, as they said, any day now we’d be flying out.
So we waited.
And watched…from the hotel lounge
From our rooms
To kill time, we explored the airport…to no avail
We bowled at an alley that was a 1 minute walk away.
and ate and ate and ate at the hotel restaurants
News media were always around to interview the hotel guests, including my ever articulate grandfather
We were told by the airlines and the news that flights would be open again in a week, 2 weeks, possibly a month, several months. Other options to travel out of the country were terribly overpriced. If we had wanted to take the Eurostar to Paris and then fly out from there, it would have cost $15,000.
As we got antsier from being stuck in the hotel and missing home, the price got more and more tempting to pay. Thank God we hadn’t because flights out of other parts of Western Europe closed down shortly thereafter…and many of those travelers were stranded and sleeping at airports.
After the 7 days, the news started to report possible opening flights at the airport. At 6AM, my father and grandparents drove and snuck right up into Heathrow airport. The doors were blocked by security who said no one was allowed to enter.
So what did they do?
Pretended not to speak English.
…and they got in! Right up to the airline booth and argued away the charges they were going to add in order for us to get back home.
At 9AM, David + I woke up from loud knocks at the door of our hotel room. I opened it groggily to hear my dad say:
“Pack now. We have 10 minutes to get to the airport and catch a flight to LA today. If we’re late, it’ll be taken.”
AND WE MADLY PACKED like a hurricane, threw EVERYTHING into the luggage haphazardly and sped out to the airport.
We checked our bags, went through security, and CHEERED in excitement. ‘Til we saw…
Majority of the flights were getting cancelled right in front of our eyes. The airlines said the next available flight after that day wouldn’t be for a few weeks because everyone had called and flights were booking like mad.
So we sat and bit our nails waiting to see if our flights would get cancelled.
We went all the way to the boarding gate and were STOPPED. The attendant said David + I were not registered in the system.
Nervousness began to creep up and we were contemplating what we would do if we had to stay.
The attendant returned back and realized there was a glitch in the system and several passengers were not showing, for one reason or another. AND SHE LET US IN
AND WE FLEW…home.
Some people who were stranded had lost their jobs. Items could not be shipped into London so fruit and food were being spoiled overseas. The UK suffered millions and millions of British pounds being lost daily.
We had never been so aware at how life can change at any moment. You know it’s true but there’s nothing like being in a situation that makes you feel how true it is.
We were so grateful to finally be home. It felt absolutely incredible. We were so thankful to God for all the blessings in life, that we were all together, safe, provided for and home.
It was a total celebration with our family. Celebrating with gross looking crustaceans…
that tasted so good…
Home sweet home.