Grrr: Our Unlucky London Heathrow Misconnect

72

In a previous post I reviewed our excellent American Airlines business class flight from Charlotte to London, as we were enroute to Greece. In that installment I hinted at how our flight ended on a sour note, so in this post I wanted to talk about what happened.

Specifically, we misconnected. Let me note upfront that this wasn’t specifically anyone’s fault — if you’re a frequent traveler you just have to go with the flow and make the best of every situation, and there’s no reason to get bent out of shape. For the most part it’s a miracle how smoothly airline operations run, especially when you consider the complexity of it all.

Sometimes things go wrong. I think we just hope that it doesn’t happen when we’re taking a very special trip with our mothers on what’s already a very long travel day. But we’re blessed to even be able to take this trip, so in the end it was no big deal. I still wanted to share what happened, though, because it was almost comical how many things went wrong at once.

Our itinerary was probably too good to be true

We were flying from Tampa to Charlotte to London to Athens on a single American Airlines award ticket (with the last segment on British Airways), and then we had a separate ticket from Athens to Chania on Aegean Airlines.

It was a long travel day — about 27 hours door-to-door — but it seemed like the best option:

  • We could have spent a night at Heathrow (quarantining in our room) to split up the journey a bit, but there had been so many stories of horrible immigration lines (up to seven hours), and I didn’t want to risk it with my mom
  • We were lucky in that our London to Athens flight was supposed to be operated by a British Airways 787-9, and I had managed to assign all of us first class seats, which would have been the swankiest intra-Europe flight ever
  • Our connection at Heathrow was scheduled to be 2hr10min, which I’d consider to be reasonable; ultimately I didn’t want to plan a longer layover, since our journey was long enough as is

Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned…

First our jet bridge broke…

The winds weren’t working in our favor across the Atlantic, and despite an on-time departure, we ended up landing about 20 minutes late. We still had 1hr50min, which should have been more than enough time. After all, we were already at Terminal 5, and I could even see our connecting plane in the distance!

View as we pulled into our gate at London Heathrow

The seatbelt sign turned off and we waited for the jet bridge to approach the plane, but… it didn’t. For about 10 minutes the jet bridge just didn’t move, at which point the captain announced there was a problem with the jet bridge, and that they’re working on fixing it. He said it should hopefully be no more than 15 minutes.

Our uncooperative jet bridge

At that point the captain updated us that it was determined that the jet bridge was actually broken. He explained that they’d get stairs and buses, and would be deplaning us via the rear of the plane. I’m not sure I get how that’s more efficient than just pushing back and going to a different gate (presumably they have some spares right now, and that would also solve the issue of boarding the plane when it departs again), but whatever.

Suffice to say that it was a total cluster. About 20 minutes later some buses showed up, though there were still no stairs.

We see you, buses!

Then it was another 20 minutes until they brought out stairs. At this point we had been sitting at the gate for about an hour.

Finally they started putting people in buses to the terminal, but they were limited to roughly 20 people per bus to allow for distancing. Since the stairs were at the rear of the plane, we were on the very last bus. That took another 40 minutes.

Usually I’d think this is a pretty cool view

Individually everyone was doing what they could, but the collective incompetence and lack of coordination among the ground crew was kind of incredible (and there’s no point in even detailing that).

We ended up getting to the terminal around our scheduled departure time to Athens, so unfortunately we had misconnected. We headed to the transit desk, where the next round of fun started…

Then American Airlines’ systems were down…

We headed to the British Airways transit desk at Heathrow Terminal 5, and explained we had misconnected and needed to be rebooked. The agent was friendly and tried to be helpful.

Heathrow Terminal 5 transfer desk

After he typed for a few minutes, the conversation went something like this:

British Airways agent: “Oh, you’re on an American Airlines ticket? Well you’ll have to go and see them. But their systems have been down for over an hour, so you may have to wait a bit.”
Me: “Do you know when their systems will be working again?”
British Airways agent: “We don’t know. But you can have a seat and they can come and get you.”
Me: “But couldn’t you help rebook us since this segment is on British Airways, and you also have a joint venture with American? I know it’s not your fault, but I thought the whole point of the joint venture was to create a seamless experience for customers, and this… isn’t.”
British Airways agent: “I wish there was something I could do, but you’ll just have to wait.”
Me: Is there any chance you could at least try to protect us on the next flight until American can reissue the ticket, so that we can be sure we can get to Greece today? We have a connecting flight from there on a separate ticket, and I’d like to rebook that as well.”
British Airways agent: “Let me see what I can do. Just have a seat over there.”
Me: “I really appreciate that you’re trying, again, I know it’s not your fault. Thanks for your help.”

Great, we misconnected, and American’s systems had been down for an hour and they didn’t know when they’d be back up. At least the agent was nice, compared to one of the other agents who was dealing with a passenger who was on our flight, who dared to book a British Airways connection on a separate ticket.

The British Airways agent literally laughed in the customer’s face when he asked about being rebooked on the next British Airways flight:

“Ha, you think we’re going to reimburse you because you decided to book two tickets? No, I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen, you’re going to be paying us for a new ticket!”

Anyway, we sat down on the floor in the transit area (since there’s barely any seating), and about 30 minutes later the British Airways agent found us and told us he was able to get us rebooked since American’s systems were still down. I thanked him for his help, because he could have just taken the “not my problem” approach, but he didn’t. It pays to be nice to frontline workers.

Then there was an Aegean rebooking adventure…

I had intentionally booked us flexible tickets on Aegean Airlines from Athens to Chania, in the event of a misconnect. Suffice to say that came in handy. While sitting on the floor at the Heathrow transit desk I started trying to rebook our flight on Aegean, since I saw the last flight of the evening had just three seats left for sale.

Our transit desk view while waiting

Aegean’s website claims you can easily make changes online, and I was pleasantly surprised when with just a few clicks I was able to rebook us on that flight and even issue boarding passes. Well, at least I was impressed until I saw “standby” written on the boarding passes, which isn’t what we were hoping for. The previous page made it seem like it would be a confirmed change.

I phoned up Aegean in hopes of an agent being able to help. After being on hold for over 30 minutes, the (friendly) agent claimed there was a “technical error.” She said she was on the other line with the “technical department,” and asked if she could call me back in a few minutes. Wow, a call back? That’s awesome service, and something I wish more airlines would do!

Unfortunately over two hours later I hadn’t received a call back (despite being told it would be minutes), and our reservation still didn’t reflect the change. I called again, spoke to someone else, and explained the situation. Again, he promised to call me back after speaking to the “technical department.”

Since we were about to board our flight, I was almost ready to just book a new itinerary altogether, because the risk was too great. Three new tickets cost less than the night we’d forfeit at our hotel if we wouldn’t make it to Chania that night. He assured me the tickets would be reissued, and sure enough, when I went to check-in at Athens Airport, we were confirmed on the flight, even though the reservation wasn’t updated online. Whew.

I’m happy it was confirmed, because the flight ended up being oversold, and they were begging for volunteers.

Flying within Greece isn’t particularly fun!

Bottom line

If you travel enough you’ll no doubt run into some operational issues, which is to be expected. I think we all hope that our “special” trips aren’t the ones that have these issues, but sometimes that’s just how stuff works out.

In this case we misconnected at Heathrow due to a broken jet bridge, and it took about two hours for everyone to be deplaned. Stuff didn’t get much better once we were off the plane, from American’s systems being down, to Aegean being terrible about rebooking.

Fortunately my mom was a great sport, and we’re lucky that we still made it all the way to Chania the same day, even if it was a very long journey. There are a lot of logistical risks and challenges to traveling nowadays, and in this case a three-stop routing was our best bet, so we can’t be too upset about this.

Now we’re in paradise, so all’s well that ends well!

Conversations (72)
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  1. Adam Deyoe

    Oh no! That's why I booked with the Emirates 5th freedom flight -direct but now getting nervous I booked a separate 1 way to Santorini, with about a 3 hour layover too. Glad you made it to Chania - can't wait for your review. I'll be there end of June!

  2. Dick Bupkiss

    IME, 2 hours to connect on a separate ticket is inadequate, even at an efficient airport (honestly, I'm surprised that you expected this to work -- I would not have booked that connection). LHR ain't anything like efficient. And no matter where you are connecting, there are just way too any things that can (and occasionally do) go wrong, and a misconnect is the result. For that connection in LHR, I would give it 3...

    IME, 2 hours to connect on a separate ticket is inadequate, even at an efficient airport (honestly, I'm surprised that you expected this to work -- I would not have booked that connection). LHR ain't anything like efficient. And no matter where you are connecting, there are just way too any things that can (and occasionally do) go wrong, and a misconnect is the result. For that connection in LHR, I would give it 3 to 5 hours minimum, depending on the time of day (if your arrival is scheduled for early in the day, then you have more options to get another flight in case you misconnect) and the direction (outbound misconnects usually have more dire consequences for most folks than the flight home). At least you didn't arrive at LHR after al the possible onward flights had departed -- been there, done that.

    Flying on separate tickets bumps your risk WAY up.

  3. Lukas

    @Dick Bupkiss, the misconnect did NOT happen on the separate ticket.

  4. Megan

    @ Dick Bupkiss

    Reading comprehension bumps your risk WAY down.

  5. Joey

    I’m glad you guys are safe and handled this well!!!
    I still remember back over 8 years ago when BA rebooked you guys to EK first on the LHR-DXB leg when your flight to LHR was delayed and what a treat that was!!!
    Stay safe and enjoy your vacation!

  6. Burritomiles

    Same thing happened to me in January at LHR on a BA flight. We landed early from LAX and the jet bridge we arrived at was "broken". Took over an hour but they got the bridge to connect, the FO was great and kept us updated, he was claiming the Captain had opened the plane's windscreen and was trying to help. lol

    Thank god I didn't have a connection, can not image how frustrating that is.

    1. Timo

      I've had the broken jet bridge at LHR, too! Theses days, when flying overseas I usually book a stay at arrival airport hotel before continuing to final destination. It helps with jet lag and builds in a huge window of flexibility.

  7. JW

    The only airport that I dare book a less than 2 hours transit is HKG and SIN, anywhere else you are asking for trouble.

  8. Klaus

    @Lucky:
    Will you claim compensation? 600€/person? Or is that no longer possible since the UK is not in the EU?

  9. jon

    When it rains, it pours ! I have had trips like that, just one thing after another. Just have to sit back and wonder what next will happen to further screw up the journey.

  10. The Original Donna

    I have my own set of horror stories misconnecting at LHR along with IT issues which seem oddly frequent for that place. I have spent the better part of the last decade avoiding LHR and waiting to hear that operations have improved and its no longer a crap shoot for connecting flights. The wait continues.

    Your Mother looks great! Enjoy your holiday!

  11. Mark G

    2 hours for a connection at LHR during the pandemic. Are you crazy? :) when I booked my upcoming trip I saw that as an option but went for the 5 hour layover instead. Much rather get bored in the lounge than deal with a missed connection.

    1. Steve

      2 Hr during a dead period at LHR is not enough i couldnt even imagine it right now with all there restrictions it being anything close to efficient

  12. Miamiorbust

    Firstly, so sorry to hear about your misconnection. Secondly, this garbage about AA tickets and rebooking when missing a BA connection is not new or one time. And doesn’t even matter if you are flying AA or BA from the states. I’ve run into same problem with AA issued ticket but flying BA metal from JFK and BA connection. If paying for ticket I just buy BA tickets if connecting to another destination in Europe....

    Firstly, so sorry to hear about your misconnection. Secondly, this garbage about AA tickets and rebooking when missing a BA connection is not new or one time. And doesn’t even matter if you are flying AA or BA from the states. I’ve run into same problem with AA issued ticket but flying BA metal from JFK and BA connection. If paying for ticket I just buy BA tickets if connecting to another destination in Europe. Really aren’t any good work arounds if using redemptions. I happen to like BA overall but using avios for long haul flights through LHR is just a horrible value. In this case, just super unlucky.

  13. Mick

    Got to take some risks! I’ve had tons of tight connections and have never missed. 40mins at Frankfurt etc. if you do miss you catch the next one. So you don’t lose a whole lot.

    Much easier now everything online (unless the system is down loll)

  14. rich

    This is why I could never be someone flying all the time. I would be so stressed out waiting to get off that plane. Not because I want to be stressed but that is just me.

    While I think the BA agent that was laughing at the other guy should have a taking to, I do think he would have been correct to say "Sorry but that is the risk you assume when you...

    This is why I could never be someone flying all the time. I would be so stressed out waiting to get off that plane. Not because I want to be stressed but that is just me.

    While I think the BA agent that was laughing at the other guy should have a taking to, I do think he would have been correct to say "Sorry but that is the risk you assume when you book separate tickets" People generally do separate tickets to save money so it shouldn't be the concern of the airline if they miss the flight.

    27+ hrs is too long for me to travel although I wouldn't have spent a night in the UK right now either.

  15. JB

    So was your original flight on BA's 787-9 to ATH or the new flight (or both)?

    1. Ben

      @ JB -- The original flight, which we missed. We went from 787-9 first class seats to A321 intra-Europe business class seats.

  16. Antonio

    When the other day I read the mum's route was Tampa to Charlotte to London (Heathrow!!!!) to Athens I thought : oh what a perverse son.. On AA and BA!!!, more perverse even... Joke....
    I should have paid cash to minimize connections and avoid LHR instead 57,5k aa, and besides other A3 flight!??? Also boat and island donkey ???

    1. Ben

      @ Antonio -- In fairness, the issue here wasn't that we weren't paying cash, this was actually just the most direct routing. When we were traveling there were no transatlantic flights from Tampa and no transatlantic flights to Athens, so the most direct routing had two connections.

  17. Phillip

    Personally I would have gone for the same two hour connection at LHR. Oddly, my experiences connecting in and out of Heathrow have mostly been smooth (there goes, I’ve jinxed it now)!

  18. Ivan Y

    Glad you were still able to get to the destination the same day!

    But have to admire Heathrow’s consistency in making any connection an adventure even during the pandemic.

  19. William

    I get that we all have the travel bug right now and you have to take over-the-top trips (and I remember the backstory to this trip, with your Mom and all), but for a “normal” person, I just think there are sooooo many amazing places closer to home that make more sense to travel to right now ...

    Honestly I don’t want to go to Hawaii because I can’t bear the idea of having...

    I get that we all have the travel bug right now and you have to take over-the-top trips (and I remember the backstory to this trip, with your Mom and all), but for a “normal” person, I just think there are sooooo many amazing places closer to home that make more sense to travel to right now ...

    Honestly I don’t want to go to Hawaii because I can’t bear the idea of having to go at least 12 hours or so wearing a mask nonstop - I assume you are masked for pretty much the entirety of this minimum 27-hour journey, since you’re in planes/airports the whole time?

    Plus three connections, one in a notoriously difficult airport even pre-COVID... the potential for limited rebooking options in case of a misconnect... all to get to a place that is likely to be super congested now since it opened back up to attract tourists (and where I wouldn’t be surprised if those staffing the tourist infrastructure were none too pleased to be dealing with all these people)... I guess that’s the charm of this blog, we get to live vicariously through your travel mayhem so we don’t have to do it ourselves. So thanks?

  20. Passive Poster

    Lucky...on a Dash-8...in economy class?!? Craziness.

  21. D3kingg

    Damn bro you missed a 787 first class on BA report opportunity from London to Greece. Your psychologist must have a real sense of humor because i would have been infuriated.

  22. ChrisC

    Klaus - Brexit makes no difference as the EU261 regulation has been UK law since 2005 and will remain so until it is repealed or replaced.

    There are only 2 changes made so far - one to rename it UK261 and the other to convert the € amounts into £ amounts.

    In anycase it's not relevent because Ben et al were arriving from a non EU departure point on a non EU airline.

  23. Mm

    Can anyone shed light on why they didn't just move the aircraft to a gate with a functioning jetbridge. Sure seems like a huge mess could have been avoided, and it had to have cost less (for all parties) to move the damn plane.

  24. Klaus

    @ChrisC:
    But the itinerary involved BA. So they would be able to claim the compensation?

    If I’d be flying on a United ticket and the Last Segment would be operated by Lufthansa, I could claim compensation in case of delay

  25. Michael Doulakis

    I am reading this on Saturday night when the first passengers from London to Chania arrive ... with British Airways. Have fun and enjoy your stay .

  26. Rozellev

    Same problem at heathrow on american airlines flight! it was the bus to the next terminal to a ba flight and security, we missed the connection. Ba rebooked us and gave us food vouchers.

  27. Andy

    Ben, given the current entry and quarantine requirement to the UK, you can consider yourself lucky that there was a second flight to Athens that day and you did bot have to enter the UK … You need a prepaid test on days two and eight plus a quarantine for ten days. While the airline might put you into a hotel (though I doubt fir ten days) and I doubt they would provide the prepaid tests.

    1. Ben

      @ Andy -- Indeed we were lucky there was another flight that day, but it is worth knowing that you can also spend a night "quarantining" in an airport hotel and then fly out the next morning. Then there's no option to take the tests days later. We had been tested prior to travel, as that was a requirement to even transit the UK.

  28. Ksa63

    It seems you missed a connection. You didn’t misconnect.

  29. Doug

    Ah, such fond memories of connecting through Heathrow. Although I've always allowed enough time to enjoy the Cathy Pacific lounge. But I understand your not indulging in that, for your Mom's sake. (She looks great, btw!)
    But I commend you for knowledgeably handling the misconnect. Your post should serve as a good example of how to do it (politely, appreciatively, and -- perhaps most of all -- causatively). The phone is always your friend...

    Ah, such fond memories of connecting through Heathrow. Although I've always allowed enough time to enjoy the Cathy Pacific lounge. But I understand your not indulging in that, for your Mom's sake. (She looks great, btw!)
    But I commend you for knowledgeably handling the misconnect. Your post should serve as a good example of how to do it (politely, appreciatively, and -- perhaps most of all -- causatively). The phone is always your friend when the next misconnect looms. I've pulled mine out the moment we hit "wheels down" more than once.

  30. Phillip

    @Andy
    The UK allows passengers to continue their journeys if transiting within 48 hours without having to get the day 2/8 tests! They just need to stay in their hotel rooms technically during the layover.

  31. The Original Donna

    @Mm - I don’t have a clue about the gate situation that Lucky experienced at LHR on that day, but normally when this has happened to me in the past, there wasn’t another gate available for that particular aircraft type and pilots would let you know that before the cattle cars showed up.

  32. Hepworth

    They are limiting the busses to 20 people for social distancing—as they are unloading people off of an airplane they’ve all been on together for 8 hours, and to take them to a terminal where there will be no social distancing enforced.

  33. Fed UP

    anyone flying 4 segments, including international, in LHR and Athens, in one stretch, is out of their mind.

  34. OnTheRun

    Of the many airports around the world I've transited through, LHR is by far the worst for incredible incompetence, lack of consideration and nasty staff that invariably manage to make a bad situation worse. You were lucky that you found someone helpful Ben.

    As for BA, they suck. There is no better way to describe it. After my last trip to Capetown, I'd rather walk than get on a BA flight. Nasty, incompetent, pompous,...

    Of the many airports around the world I've transited through, LHR is by far the worst for incredible incompetence, lack of consideration and nasty staff that invariably manage to make a bad situation worse. You were lucky that you found someone helpful Ben.

    As for BA, they suck. There is no better way to describe it. After my last trip to Capetown, I'd rather walk than get on a BA flight. Nasty, incompetent, pompous, arrogant, obnoxious American hating staff barely begins to capture the actual ground and in flight experience. I know there are exceptions, but they are sadly rare. The sadistic agent who laughed in the customer's face rather than helping them is the perfect example of BA customer service. What you experienced is the exception. An AMEX travel agent once shared that they are the absolute worst to deal with.

    I actually and intentionally book around BA flights and try to avoid destinations where I would have to fly them. YMMV

    Enjoy the trip. Good luck on the return...

  35. JW

    What happened with your luggage? Did it make it to your final destination?

    1. Ben

      @ JW -- Fortunately we just had carry-ons, because that would have complicated things even further.

  36. Icarus

    @klaus the delayed flight was American Airlines from the USA therefore Eu261 doesn’t apply. It was also American’s responsibility to rebook as it was their flight that was delayed.

  37. Rjb

    My last trip through LHR I was misconnected not once but twice by BA. The only way to avoid an overnight in NYC was to get BA to switch my flight from LHR - JFK to LHR - IAD. I was at the gate for the IAD flight an hour before departure. BA told me to pound sand. That was my last BA flight.

  38. Steve

    @Klaus There’s a good summary on this site written by James in 2018. It appears the delay was on the inbound aircraft which was not operated by a European carrier. Hence, no compensation via UK-261 (post-Brexit law) is applicable. https://onemileatatime.com/eu261-compensation/

  39. Steve

    In case anyone is interested, here’s a summary of how Brexit impacted the EU-261 passenger rights law. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d66cd856-d3fa-445a-8985-df1264044d2f

  40. Azamaraal

    Perhaps we are all missing one important fact. AA was only 20 minutes late

    The problem was due to LHR GATE FAILURE.

    I don't know how BA can claim it's the passengers problem. Fault lies with Heathrow Holdings Ltd. (formerly BAA).

    Totally in the dark on how liability is allocated since the delay was caused by LHR. Anybody know?

  41. Alfred Winshanton

    I usually love travel internationally and welcome foreigners.

    But unless your journey is essential, please do not come to Britain right now.

    We have had a bad pandemic with the Kent and now Indian variant taking hold, and despite starting in early December, have yet to reach the under 30s with a single dose of the vaccine.

    So unless your travel here is truly essential, please keep off our island until we have...

    I usually love travel internationally and welcome foreigners.

    But unless your journey is essential, please do not come to Britain right now.

    We have had a bad pandemic with the Kent and now Indian variant taking hold, and despite starting in early December, have yet to reach the under 30s with a single dose of the vaccine.

    So unless your travel here is truly essential, please keep off our island until we have the disease fully under control and everybody has had the chance of a vaccine, including the often younger airport and hotel staff.

    Thank you,
    Alfred

  42. ChrisC

    Klaus

    As I said the regulation does not apply to non EU/UK airlines arriving from non EU/UK departure points

    Lucky flew into the UK on AA so the regulation simply does not apply. BA aren't liable for a delay they didn't cause.

    Just as LH won't be liable for a delay caused by UA on your trip . They would be responsible for a delay they caused though and pay compensation if the criteria were met.

  43. Sir Walter Raleigh

    I’ve managed to get unlucky multiple times with LHR and actively avoid it.

    Flying BA from SFO to LHR in 2018, our A380 got stuck on the runway. Despite a 1-hour early landing we got to our gate 1 hour late. I misconnected to Stockholm and spent a night in England. Silver lining was I got the 600 euro compensation and didn’t have plans until the next day.

    Another time, I had to...

    I’ve managed to get unlucky multiple times with LHR and actively avoid it.

    Flying BA from SFO to LHR in 2018, our A380 got stuck on the runway. Despite a 1-hour early landing we got to our gate 1 hour late. I misconnected to Stockholm and spent a night in England. Silver lining was I got the 600 euro compensation and didn’t have plans until the next day.

    Another time, I had to connect between T3 and T5, with a 2.5 hr connection and barely made my flight on to DEL.

    Anecdotally, in the extra screening for US bound flights, the LHR security staff always give extra attention (not in a good way) to me, others with irish accents, and non-whites in line!

    I avoid LHR like the plague. Why pay so much in taxes for such a horrible experience!

    I despise England and the English. Alba Gu Brath!

  44. Azamaraal

    Dear Sir

    Totally agree about taxes at LHR and fuel surcharge on BA.

    I really miss British pubs and visiting friends. Must be 15 years avoiding LHR.

    Travel via Asia (CX QR) which is a longer time on a very pleasant flight.

  45. John g

    Will never understand why you and many others took to the skies to visit Greece when they swung the doors open? Do you feel deprived of trying to grab those free tickets? And to subject your mom to such a journey.
    Also since your boyfriend is never involved in travel planning it seems, he’s a Virtuoso agent, why aren’t those resources utilized, and him, to correct situations such as these?

  46. RobASFO

    Chania is nice, but see if you can get to the southwestern coast of Crete..there's a sleepy seaside town named Loutro with a picturesque port and near some wonderful beaches ! Plus hiking n the Samaria Gorge.

  47. Rezzadogs

    @Mm,

    One of the joys of the UK is experiencing NMJ - not my job. Demarcation lines are all over the place.

    There's a fair chance that the only person allowed to make the decision to change gates finished their shift 20 minutes earlier.

    Even if they were working overtime, then the tug operators would have seen that they weren't scheduled to do a pushback for another 2 hours, and it would have taken...

    @Mm,

    One of the joys of the UK is experiencing NMJ - not my job. Demarcation lines are all over the place.

    There's a fair chance that the only person allowed to make the decision to change gates finished their shift 20 minutes earlier.

    Even if they were working overtime, then the tug operators would have seen that they weren't scheduled to do a pushback for another 2 hours, and it would have taken 3 hours to get approval to change the schedule.

    And after that, Lucky would have found the person responsible for opening the door at the end of the airbridge didn't have permission to open that particular door. So everyone would have had to wait another 15 minutes for the supervisor to finish their tea break.

    Needless to say, after 10 years of living in the UK, I'm beginning to learn that it's normally quicker to just do it yourself.

  48. Carl

    LHR is such an awful place to connect. Unfriendly staff. Additional security checks. And things just don't seem to go as smoothly as elsewhere. FRA or AMS are way better.

  49. Anthony

    I love Aegean's business class. The flight attendants are friendly and the food on a flight between the islands is better than United's Polaris (when it comes to quality).

  50. Michael

    Ben, I appreciate the candid and informative report of your misconnect. As someone who has spent more than a few days living at LHR in 2020, I feel your pain and am glad for your resolution :)

  51. Alex_77W

    If that was AA ticket, I wonder why Lucky did not call AA EXP desk to correct the issue? He could do it from a lounge rather than seating on a floor of the transfer hall.

    1. Ben

      @ Alex_77W -- Sabre was down at the time, so they couldn't have done anything by phone either. Furthermore, we couldn't have gone to the lounge, because we didn't have boarding passes for our connections. Due to travel restrictions, in the US they could only issue boarding passes as far as London. Generally I find it's more efficient to handle this kind of stuff at the airport rather than over the phone.

  52. Steven E

    I think if it was a special trip with my Mum I’d have purchased tickets with money and gone a better route TPA/JFK/ ATH JetBlue and Emirates

    1. Ben

      @ Steven E -- At the time we were traveling there were no nonstop flights between the United States and Greece yet, or else I would have absolutely done that.

  53. ORDPLATAA

    This is the 4 year anniversary of the BA IT "Meltdown". I was traveling YVR-LHR-JNB-CPT and their systems went down just as we landed. We were not allowed to stay in the terminal. Immigration took forever and nobody could help rebook me as the systems were down. Managed to get a room in Central London, had a nice dinner and crawled into bed. Got up the next morning (early) and went out to Heathrow as...

    This is the 4 year anniversary of the BA IT "Meltdown". I was traveling YVR-LHR-JNB-CPT and their systems went down just as we landed. We were not allowed to stay in the terminal. Immigration took forever and nobody could help rebook me as the systems were down. Managed to get a room in Central London, had a nice dinner and crawled into bed. Got up the next morning (early) and went out to Heathrow as the phone lines were jammed. Couldn't get into the terminal so got back on the HEX and took the Underground to LCY where I managed to basically walk right into the terminal. An agent was able to rebook me for that evening. Then it was back to the hotel to get my bags and then off to Heathrow for the second time that day! Ah, memories........

  54. RetiredATLATC

    More and more I am going with the longer layover, unless, like in TK's case you have to have the shortest layover available for their gratis hotel program.

    I'd much rather have a few extra hours in the lounge than deal with these types of issues.

  55. FNT-Delta-Diamond

    Wouldn't this situation entitle you to compensation per European regulations?

  56. ZxM

    Is it me or the the older OMAAT was better?

    1. Adil

      Agree! First impression is that the old layout was better.

  57. tuotuo

    Why not stay in Athens for one night.There is a Sofitel just beside the terminal.

  58. Michael

    @Ben, I can't wait to hear about your experience in Chania. I'm heading there with my partner in July for two nights. Would love any good tips for food, stays, and excursions! Thanks.

  59. Fred M

    On behalf of Broken Britain, I apologise to you and your mom. Reminds me of a US news agency editor living over here who was once quoted in an interview saying: “The trouble with England is it doesn’t ****ing work.” He’d lived here about 25 years at the time.

    In its defence, LHR has suffered huge losses due to the pandemic (the free bus service you once wrote about has just been all but axed)...

    On behalf of Broken Britain, I apologise to you and your mom. Reminds me of a US news agency editor living over here who was once quoted in an interview saying: “The trouble with England is it doesn’t ****ing work.” He’d lived here about 25 years at the time.

    In its defence, LHR has suffered huge losses due to the pandemic (the free bus service you once wrote about has just been all but axed) and was probably understaffed when you came through, hence the delay sorting the airbridge. Why the plane wasn’t simply allocated a new gate and towed there - why use common sense when a cluster will do instead?

    I had hoped to snark back that I had had a similar experience in the US. The one time UAL cancelled my flight from LAX, due to a faulty toilet, we were informed from the flight deck, promptly deplaned, adequate staff appeared to allocate us airport hotels and coach transport, notes were slipped under doors detailing the next day’s replacement flight, the coaches showed up on time and we reached LHR early, albeit about 20 hours late. It can be done right, though, obv, that was not in the middle of a pandemic.

  60. PresRDC

    A good reminder that the UK really is a third-world country when it comes to transportation infrastructure. When it works, it's great. When it doesn't, there is no Plan B.

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Mark G

2 hours for a connection at LHR during the pandemic. Are you crazy? :) when I booked my upcoming trip I saw that as an option but went for the 5 hour layover instead. Much rather get bored in the lounge than deal with a missed connection.

JW

The only airport that I dare book a less than 2 hours transit is HKG and SIN, anywhere else you are asking for trouble.

PresRDC

A good reminder that the UK really is a third-world country when it comes to transportation infrastructure. When it works, it's great. When it doesn't, there is no Plan B.

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