28. June 2007 · Comments Off on · Categories: Uncategorised · Tags: ,

i went to collect dad from the airport yesterday. he was due to arrive at 14:15, so i got there about 14:40 which should have been just right. when i reached heathrow, the arrivals screen said he was due at 14:50. which wasn’t too bad, so i sat down to knit.

at about 15:20 i noticed that the screen still said “expected 14:50”. i started to wonder if they just weren’t updating it. then it said “landed 15:22”. hurrah! i thought. a text i’d sent to dad earlier suddenly reported as delivered, so i knew he was on the ground and i got up to loiter by the arrivals door.

then i got a text from dad: “Sorry, diverted to Gatwick! Heathrow closed due to gas leak. Still in plane on the ground while they find out if we are to fly on or get off here”

gas leak? what gas leak? i’m at heathrow, and nobody told me. in fact they haven’t even told me that the plane i’m waiting for is at the wrong airport. oh well, lucky i brought some knitting.

about 15 minutes later i got the next message from dad: “Just advised Heathrow open again. Will take on fuel before continuing. Expected take off is 45 min away”. i hoped i wouldn’t run out of yarn.

heathrow still hadn’t given any information about this – everything i knew about the situation was from dad.

at 16:10, almost an hour after his plane landed at gatwick, heathrow finally made an announcement to say that 5 planes have been diverted to gatwick and that they have no estimate of what time they will reach heathrow. the flight disappeared from the arrivals screen. i bought a smoothie and occupied a table in the smoothie bar for about an hour. i ran out of yarn.

just after 17:00, i went back to the arrivals area. the flight was back on the screen, saying “diverted”. no shit!

then, suddenly, at 17:25 it changed to “landed”. a few minutes later dad phoned me to assure me that he was at heathrow this time. we finally got on our way and headed for the tube, which was a scene of pure chaos due to the sudden glut of arrivals, the typical 50% of ticket machines out of order, and the confusion created by the news that part of the network is closed down because of the gas leak. so we got a cab.

so, that gas leak. i was at heathrow for 4 hours, straining my little ears for information, and at no point did they mention there was a gas leak. it was an hour before they told us that the planes we were waiting for had gone to another airport, and at that point all they said was that there was an “earlier incident”. i can appreciate that you would not want to cause panic, but a little bit of info wouldn’t hurt.

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