We had a 5:45pm flight out of LAX on Monday, July 8th. We knew when we booked the flight that we had a 10 hour leg to Heathrow (London), a 3 hour layover before our 10 hour next flight to Hyderabad. We were prepared (or so we thought). The first leg of the flight went off without a hitch -- we decided to stay up and sleep on the second leg of the journey, as we'd be getting into Hyderabad at 5:00 in the morning -- what better way to acclimate?
Well, guess what. After landing at Heathrow and walking for what seemed like miles and passing through security, we waited for our gate to open. The flight was listed as 45 minutes late -- no problem! When the gate opened, we walked over and were told to sit down, that the delay was going to be lengthened. Needless to say, 6 and 1/2 hours after we landed at Heathrow we were told the flight was further delayed due to mechanical issues with the plane, and that they were looking for another plane for us. One hour later they told us that there was no other plane available. Then the adventure REALLY began.
We were told by the British Airlines representatives that we had to go down to arrivals and pick up our luggage at baggage claim, then go through border check (immigration) and then head up to the Departures lounge and go to the E area for reticketing onto another flight and/or have overnight accommodations and go out another day. "There will be representatives posted along the way to guide you" we were told. Needless to say, there was NO ONE from the airline to guide any of us along this route. I kept stopping people to ask them where to go -- when you're not used to Heathrow, and you're not going a straight shot in or out, it can be a bit daunting.
At any rate, we made it to the departures hall, and because of the kind of ticket we had, we had to go to another area. There were people we recognized ahead of us in line. The man directly ahead of us was reticketed to go out on FRIDAY (this was Tuesday), and was given vouchers to stay at a hotel 55 miles outside of the airport, because that was all that was available. I teared up when the representative came by us, and told him that Max is getting married. He ushered us over to another area, and asked us if we'd mind another 6 hour layover -- he could get us onto a Virgin Atlantic flight leaving at 10:00 pm from Heathrow, arriving in Delhi at 11:00 in the morning. It would be a 9 hour flight. Six hour layover after that, and we'd be on an Air India flight to Hyderabad, arriving at 7:00 pm, 14 hours after we were supposed to arrive. We jumped on this opportunity. THEN he gave us instructions on how to get to the terminal where Virgin Atlantic was located -- another long walk and adventure in trying to get to where we needed to go. We again had to stop people and ask them clarifying questions to figure out where we were going, but we got there.
The Virgin Atlantic staff were kind. British Airways couldn't help us with seat assignments on either Virgin Atlantic or Air India, but assured us we had seats. The agent at Virgin was great, and very helpful. The staff on the plane once we boarded were exceptional -- EXCEPT that where we were seated was next to their bar -- I had FINALLY fallen asleep during takeoff, and was awakened about 30 minutes later to loud laughter/talking and the sound of cards being shuffled. A group of young man ending up sitting at the bar all night, drinking and playing cards. If I got one hour worth of sleep, I got a lot. I complained, but was told that they had the right to be there -- I asked them to just hold the voices down -- they complied for a while. This was the worst night flight I've ever been on. Not even listening to music or a movie
could drown out these guys.
The flight attendant (a young woman from Scotland) was very apologetic -- and made Stephen and me "goodie bags" to take with us, knowing our tale of the last few days and knowing the layover ahead of us.
The airport in Delhi has been updated since I was here 2008 -- wow, what a difference. Much easier to navigate through, with new shops, etc. The 6 hour wait was "doable" because all we thought of was, "we will see the kids in X hours", as the countdown moved along. There is now a Starbucks as well as a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the waiting area for our flight -- wow, what a difference! What did I have to drink? What I love in India -- Nescafe -- honest, really. That's north India, according to Max. In South India, where we will be, we will have drip coffee that's supposed to be fantastic. I'll let you know.
Our Air India flight was on time and comfortable. I was falling asleep in the waiting area, and did fall asleep as I sat in the plane. I slept for about 1 1/2 hours -- I was exhausted. This revived me enough to be alert for when we saw Max and Devika. Walking out into the waiting area outside of the airport -- there they were! A 40 minute ride later, we dropped Devika off at her Grandmother's apartment where the family had gathered -- and we got to see Aditya and Kalpana (Devika's parents) and Madhav, Devika's brother -- so good to see them! We said our quick goodbyes and got back in the car, and we arrived at the Taj Banjara. We took long showers and headed down for a late dinner (9 pm) in the hotel -- delicious meat kebobs -- Patthar Ka Gosht (goat), Murg Nish Apuri (spicy chicken), Murg Malai (Chicken Kebob with cashew and cream) with Roti and Naan. Delicious!
Woke up this morning to this view early in the morning outside our window:
Can't wait to meet more of Devika's family today! We arrived 14 hours after we were supposed to be here yesterday, so they moved the lunch to meet Devika's grandmother to today. The hotel is within walking distance (less than 10 minutes) of the apartments where the family is staying (called Serene Domain), and very close as well to Devika's Grandmother's apartment. On the agenda after lunch -- shopping for a sari and/or salwar chemise!
Please remember that this will be a personal blog -- I've been asked put this together. If you don't care to follow this, no problem. I will be reflecting on each day -- what an incredible time for our family! I happy to have to walk along with me in my wanderings in this important time for us.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:On the road to Hyderabad