After arriving in Moscow on British Airways, I spent a couple of days there before taking an overnight train to the city formerly known as Leningrad. Here’s another trip on my around-the-world ticket, this time the return from St. Petersburg to London Heathrow. Here’s how I wrote about it back in 2005. Enjoy!
I arrived at the airport at midday for my 5:20pm flight. You can’t actually go through to check-in until 2 hours before your flight, so I had three hours to kill. I went to the restaurant and had some food, then snoozed for a bit, before being allowed to check-in.
The line for Club Europe was pretty long and a guy came through and told the World Traveller (Economy) passengers to get into the other line. Of course, the people in front of me decided to brave it and I had to wait in line for ten minutes in the end. I was going to complain to the Finnair staff on duty, but thought it was best not to.
Chilling In The Lounge
After Passport control, I found the Pulovko business lounge. No Internet access, just seats, a smoking area, copious amounts of booze and nibbles. I sat with Ruth and Sebastian, who were hotel executives on their way to Heathrow and we proceeded to chat until…
An announcement, the flight is delayed 45 minutes. We refilled our glasses and continued on. An announcement, we’re delayed until 7:30pm. No problems, more booze. An announcement, we’re delayed until 9:00pm.
Hugging All The Staff
I went to the gate at this point, because I would be missing my connecting Aer Lingus flight back to Dublin, and was advised BA would make arrangements for me in Heathrow. The plane was on the ground in St. Petersburg, but there was a technical problem. I gave the Finnair rep a hug as she was doing a really good job handling the passengers, who weren’t that annoyed really.
By now I was three sheets to the wind after about eight wines, and the Captain and Purser came to the lounge to explain the problems with us. They were having a hydraulic pump replaced and it was taking longer than expected. They were apologetic that no-one had come to the lounge, and they were rewarded with a hug each from me. The Captain was quite surprised!
BA879 – St. Petersburg to London Heathrow (LED-LHR)
23 October 2005
Seat: Club Europe 2A
By 9pm we boarded the aircraft, to be told it would be another 45 to 50 minutes on the plane checking the replacement part before we could leave. I asked if Heathrow would be closed as we’d be arriving after 11pm, but apparently they still accept flights. The Purser came on the PA holding a coat saying someone had left it in the lounge – that had been me. He was quite pleased to find the person so quickly!
On Board, Dinner Is Served!
From there, I went to the forward galley and chatted to the Purser. The crew had been on duty for twelve hours by this stage, and had been extended at Captain’s discretion in order to get the flight home. This was also longer than union rules etc, and the Flight Attendants had all agreed to do this in order for them and us to get home that night. It was all quite informative!
We were in the air sometime after 10pm, and the dinner service was quite nice. I had vegetarian pasta because it looked nicer than the other option, along with Champagne. There was bread and a dessert which was some kind of cake thing. It was delicious! I told the Flight Attendant that if he had any left over dinners at the end, I could go another one, and he came back after service with a second helping! Around this point, I slept some. I was sozzled.
The Missed Connection Experience
Arrived in Heathrow around 11:30pm and went to the transfer desk. I wasn’t on the list as I had a separate booking, but was assured I would be rebooked and was given a hotel voucher, breakfast voucher for the next morning, and a return bus ticket.
About twenty of us who had missed connecting flights boarded the bus. A guy came around and realised I didn’t have a confirmed flight for the next day, so he took my details and promised I’d be called at the hotel with my onward flight details.
We were bussed to the Premier Travel Inn, checked in, and I went to sleep. I woke 20 minutes later with BA telling me that I’d been changed from the EI183 on Sunday 23 October which I had missed, to the EI155 departing at 9:50am.
British Airways were really very accommodating, and that was probably because all the passengers took it in their stride that we had a major delay. No-one was angry or shouting and everyone was pretty happy. I think everyone was just happy to get to London, as you generally can't stay in Russia and that would have been a major headache for the airline and the passengers both. All up, great experiences on the BA flights.
And that’s how I reported on the flight from St. Petersburg to London Heathrow all the way back in 2005. This should be a lesson not to drink with abandon with new friends you’ve just met, before a flight. Either way, the service was stellar from British Airways in this instance, which is what it’s all about.
Have you ever had a long technical delay before? What happened? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by Alf van Beem via Wikimedia Commons.