It was the first day of my honeymoon and I had just landed in Venice, Italy. It had been a harrowing journey. We had originally planned on flying into Milan, where we would spend the night, explore Milan a bit, and then take the train into Venice the next day.
These plans were foiled, however, by my old nemesis of LAX. I don’t know if you’re noticing a theme in this blog yet or not, but nothing good ever happens to me at LAX. In my opinion, it is a pit of despair. Still, Los Angeles is the cheapest airport to fly out of internationally in my area, so I do find myself there more often than I would like.
On this occasion, there was something wrong with the plane. I guess I can’t technically blame the airport for that, but I do seem to have a bias. If I had been at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, for example, I’m sure our flight would have taken off without issue.
Anyway, so they strung us along for several hours with promises of “we’ll be boarding shortly,” followed by “just kidding…delayed, but only for a little while”. Then more “we’ll be boarding shortly,” followed by even more “just kidding…delayed, but only for a little while.” After several rounds of this, we were informed that we would not, in fact, be boarding the plane, but instead all our bags would be arriving in the baggage claim so we had to proceed there to collect them. Outside of security. This couldn’t be good. The good people at LAX weren’t giving us any answers, so we called my husband’s mother who got on the phone with the airline while we dealt with collecting our bags and generally being herded like cattle.
While we were dealing with that, my husband’s mom had managed to reach the airline’s customer service department and was speaking to a manager. By the time we had collected our bags, she instructed us to go to the ticketing counter because they had booked us on another flight. We did as she instructed, and found out we had been booked on a flight to Boston with a connecting flight to London Heathrow. From there, we would be picked up by a car, driven to Gatwick, spend the night in Gatwick, and fly from London Gatwick directly to Venice in the morning. All in all, we would arrive in Venice around the same time we would have anyway. I would miss Milan, but Venice had always been the star attraction anyway.
This sounded great to me, but the problem was that our flight to Boston was leaving in 15 minutes, and we were now outside of security at Los Angeles airport in a Post-911 world. Thankfully, the guy who worked behind the check-in counter was actually quite nice and sympathetic to our situation (I was shedding a few tears by this time). He instructed airport security to escort us to the front of the line at security and then to escort us to the gate. My savior! Even so, we had to run as fast as we could through the airport to reach the gate because it was ready to take off already!
When we arrived, the plane had already boarded and they were holding the plane, waiting for us. Bless my husband’s mother and the helpful people who worked for the airline! We later found out we were two of only four people who had been re-booked. The rest of the jumbo jet full of people we had left behind would be out of luck for a couple of days, it seemed. The travel gods were smiling on us that day.
So…we got on the plane and we were so relieved to be making progress and to have gotten re-booked. When the flight attendant came around and asked if we would like anything to drink, I asked for a glass of wine to help calm my nerves, which were on high alert after our harrowing run through LAX.
Of course, there was a ton of turbulence on this flight, so I ended up spilling red wine all over myself mid-flight. It was that kind of day.
We arrived in Boston without much more incident and had a layover for several hours where we walked around, stretched our legs, and got something to eat before taking off on our connection to Heathrow.
Apparently while we were in the air, my husband’s mom had been hard at work arranging things for our arrival in London. When we arrived at the airport, we had a guy with our names on a sign waiting for us. We went with him and he drove us to the White House Hotel in Gatwick, which she had booked on our behalf. Apparently Gatwick was quite busy that night and the White House was the only hotel that had open availability in town.
We soon found out why.
What can I say about the White House Hotel?
It was a small hotel run by a family. This was all fine, except never in my life have I encountered a business where the hotel owners were openly disgusted with the fact that they had customers. We arrived in late afternoon and after an extremely long day of traveling and time-zone hopping, we were deliriously tired and starving. We decided to get some food before going to bed, so we asked the guy at the front desk if he could recommend a place to get something to eat. He just stared at us, saying nothing. Figuring maybe he hadn’t heard us, we asked again. He just stared some more. Awkwardly, we just mumbled something along the lines of well, I guess we’ll just go find something and walked out the front door.
There wasn’t really much to find in the area we were in. The street we were on looked mostly residential and there wasn’t a restaurant in sight. Nervously, we decided to head down the street in a direction that looked promising. On we walked until we came across the first business we saw, a Best Western Hotel (that had been completely booked solid that night) which had a sign out front advertising that they had a bar and restaurant inside. I had been hoping to find a pub or something, but considering how tired and hungry I was, I was just happy to have found a restaurant at all, so in we went.
The food was about what one could expect from a Best Western restaurant, but it was serviceable and I was happy to be eating.
After dinner, we walked back to our hotel where we found ourselves locked out.
We knocked on the door, but nobody answered. We knocked again. No answer.
We looked in the window. Several members of the family that owned the hotel were sitting together, talking. We knocked on the window and waved at them. They looked at us, but nobody got up from their seat. We knocked some more. They just kept staring at us, but not letting us in.
By this time I hadn’t slept in about 2 days and I was angry, so I started banging on the door as hard as I could and yelling, “LET US IN! LET US IN! LET US IN!”
Annoying them to the point that they could no longer ignore us seemed to do the trick, and the man who had been so unhelpful at the front counter earlier got up and let us in. I scowled at him and he scowled at me as I shuffled past and went up to my room.
I took a shower and slept for the first time in 2 days that night.
At 4am, we were aroused by the wake-up call we had ordered (at least they did that for us) and got into the car that we had hired to take us to the airport in the morning. I was so glad to be out of there!
We arrived at Gatwick airport, had a little breakfast, and finally boarded our flight to Venice.