Here at Wanderers of the World, we don’t usually tell (or write) stories. We tend to focus on tips, advice and inspirational pieces to help all our fellow globetrotters out there.
But occasionally, a travel fail so horrendous happens, that we turn into storytellers. Whether good ones or not, we’ll let you be the judge… but the difference between us and the next J.K. Rowling is that our stories, our misadventures, our occasional horrendous experiences are true.
Once you’ve read this one – about our hell of a trip to Iceland and New York City – you may not believe that this story is true. But we’ll settle that dispute here and now. We are ashamed, disappointed and feeling a whole new level of hurt while we say: this really did happen…
Our flight was originally booked with a third party booking service to fly to Reykjavik from Birmingham on February 2nd. The Iceland leg of our trip was in response to a cool travel deal we’d found online, and was intended as a short weekend getaway en-route to New York City. Think of it as a pre-holiday to the major event…
But when we tried to check-in online the day before, to our surprise, we found that the flight had been cancelled and in no way had we been informed about it!
Cue first feeling of panic.
This meant we had a mad rush of getting put on a new flight which happened to be from Heathrow. Therefore, we had to make last minute travel arrangements to get to that airport instead. This also meant our car parking booking at Birmingham Airport was a waste.
Cue first feeling of disappointment.
However, after checking-in at Heathrow and arriving at our gate with plenty of time to spare, we found that the flight was delayed by just over 2 hours due to engine problems.
Cue second feeling of disappointment.
But due to the delay, some of the passengers were offered food and drink vouchers and were told to go get something nearby. So off my partner and I went to get some snacks and drinks.
However, the moment we left to get our drinks, they started boarding the plane (but we were now out of earshot of the announcement). When returning with our snacks we suddenly realised they were giving final calls for the gate so we had to run to make the flight…
Cue second feeling of panic.
Once we arrived at the gate (having just sprinted through the lounges), we were told we can’t take our hot drinks on board which made the voucher a total waste anyway!
Cue third feeling of disappointment.
The plane was eventually about to leave and taxiing onto the runway. My partner being something of a pessimist turned to me and said: “I won’t be happy until we’re in the air.” At this, I scoffed. Oh come on… we’re now taxiing, what could possibly go wrong??
Upon looking out of the window, I’d found we were heading back to the gate, with the stairway tunnel getting closer and closer. At this point I cried out loud what everyone else was thinking: “You have GOT to be kidding me!!”
A few moments later, the Captain’s voice boomed across the tannoy: “I’m sorry ladies and gentleman; the engine problem seems to have returned. We’ll need to disembark you all and await further announcements.”
Cue fourth feeling of disappointment.
So off we went to sit back in the lounge, unsure if we will ever make it to Iceland.
Some more time passes (by this point, I’ve lost count how many hours we waited), only to be told that the flight was being delayed to 10am the next morning! A part needed to be flown in from Iceland in order to fix the plane. Yes, you heard me, Iceland…
Cue fifth feeling of disappointment, closely followed by the third feeling of panic.
Our hotel accommodation and car hire in Iceland might be forfeited!!
I can happily report that both the hotel and car hire company were very helpful. The hotel informed us our keys would still be waiting for us when we finally made it to Iceland, and the car hire could be postponed until the next day.
So off we went to wait for hotel accommodation to be confirmed for our night in London.
By this point, my partner and I just wanted some food, a comfy bed and an early night… and for the next day to bring more luck than the last couple of days.
The next day, after going through the check-in and security process again, we found the flight got continuously delayed every hour or so and with no information as to why. There was no airline representative available to explain the situation which was very frustrating. Again, the flight was delayed over 2 hours and the airline’s transfers desk finally opened to offer food and drink vouchers again (which we only found out about from other passengers!).
Cue sixth feeling of disappointment.
At this stage, the flight was so delayed that it made it pointless for us even to travel to Iceland as we were due to catch another flight to New York City the following afternoon (having had intended to spend a whole day in Iceland). This also meant us missing 2 nights at a hotel apartment, car hire for 3 days and of course the opportunity to sightsee in Reykjavik.
Because of this, we asked to get put on a direct flight to NYC to which they obliged and we got put on a flight with another airline. This involved a sprint to a different terminal, going through security again and obtaining new boarding passes.
Cue fourth feeling of panic – would we even make it?
I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast in my life. I don’t think my face has ever had that expression on it before. And I definitely don’t think my blood pressure has ever been that high.
But I’m pleased to announce that we did make it. We received our boarding passes and were told our luggage would meet us in NYC. Hurrah!
Once we were on the flight, it was plain sailing (or is it flying?). We received plenty of free food, drinks and thankfully managed to get some well-earned rest.
Upon arriving, I tried not to think whether our bags had definitely made it to New York. But there was a small part of me that just knew… something else really could go wrong.
And when we arrived at the baggage reclaim, and couldn’t see our luggage anywhere… all I could do was laugh hysterically.
The kind gentleman at the airport tracked our bags and said with a puzzled expression: “All it says is that they’re still in London.”
So off we went to make a claim and attempt to get our luggage brought to New York. Thankfully, it was just a few days later and we received our bags.
It’s just a crying shame that it all had to start the way it did… and the beauties of Reykjavik still remain a mystery to us.
We told you you wouldn’t believe us…
So next time you lose some luggage, have a flight cancelled or nearly miss a flight, spare a thought for the unlucky souls like me and my fiancé who had all of this happen during one (almost unsuccessful) trip!
What we will say though is that this whole experience taught us a lot about our rights, travel insurance claims and how not to let stress break us. Keep an eye on future blog posts for our advice on what to do if you ever find yourself in a similar position… although we pray you never do!
Fancy making us feel a little bit better? Share some of your own misadventures in the comments below as we’d love to hear them!
Psst! All airline and company names within this story have been changed or purposefully left out. We’re still going through a bit of a battle to get some compensation for everything that went wrong. So if any of the names bear any resemblance to anyone you know, then it definitely wasn’t intended! 😉