Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home for the Christmas Holidays...

Two of my daughters are back this year for Christmas and with the havoc in London, I thought that both would not make it back.
The first daughter and her husband from London were on the tarmac for a few hours before the flight was abandoned and they spent at least six hours getting back to their home.
There was no information from Heathrow and the Singapore Airline website did not have reliable updates. So my daughter and son-in-law made another trip to the airport without even knowing that the flight was leaving. They were lucky as the next day the police were barring anyone from entering who did not have a confirmed flight. So their flight was delayed further when a few bags had to be offloaded as the passeners were missing. Hardly surprising when the information was non-existent!
So the two managed to get to Singapore with about 24 hours delay.
The scenes at Heathrow apparently were like a war zone.
It's a big difference what time can do to improve the situation. My other daughter had a slightly different set of problems to navigate. Her flight was from St.John's in Newfoundland to Toronto for the first leg and then from Toronto to Changi via Heathrow.
The people at St. John's could not advise if the flight would take off from Toronto and my dughter had to fly there to find out. In Toronto they would not confirm that the flight from Heathrow was on. Her ticket was purchased from SQ and the first stage from Toronto was a code-share with Air Canada. However, the Toronto desk advised the luggage could not be checked through to Changi.
This meant that she was expected to collect her bag, check out and then check in again through security and the time frame was about 2.5hours - not easy for a huge airport like Heathrow and now there were also thousands of people milling around.
I won't describe the colourful exchanges my daughter had with the airlines' counter staff.
Her flight from Toronto was the only one of four planned that left for Heathrow and when she arrived the bags also appeared like magic in double quick time. The service was extra fast as it was the only plane to be unloaded.
By then more information was being uploaded and when I checked for her arrival yesterday, there were 9 pages of fine print of all the arrivals and departures. According to the Airport CEO, they had been able to discuss and agree with airline chiefs on a realistic schedule of flights.
Although the flight SQ317 was delayed by about an hour, it was reassuring to see that it was on both SIA and Heathrow websites.
Thus that is how we are able to have a nice family reunion in Singapore this year. When my daughter in London told us of the horrific scenes at Heathrow, we thought that was the end of the holiday plans.
So as we gather to celebrate Christmas, I wish my Christian readers a Holy Christmas and a Happy New Year.
To all readers, please spend quality time with your loved ones and if you are driving, please take extra care on the roads.

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