Foreword by me: when I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to write more during this trip and that I was going to write a bit about our travel woes she said she’d write something too, and she was happy for me to share her account of the proceedings here. What was interesting to me is how she highlighted different aspects of the same experience. Below is her version.
It started like any other trip, we called for an Uber to the airport.
In a change of pace, we opted to fly from LCY. It was an eye watering £70 but with the Tube down and us having luggage, we considered it worth the cost, but I hadn’t bargained on the eggy fart from the driver. I think he had issues with his windshield jets as he kept having spray screen wash on from a bottle and then wiping it off. A little disconcerting particularly on a densely foggy and frosty morning.
We arrived at LCY in good time, passing the time at Costa and Pret. Between the time we dropped our bags off and queueing for security, disaster struck. Our flight to FRA was cancelled.
We queued up at the BA desk and was given the option of booking on a flight from LHR connecting at HKG in a few hours or our planned flights a day later. We opted for LHR. Upon closer inspection of the ticket pass, it turned out that we were flying into HND and not NRT as originally planned. Ho hum, Tokyo is Tokyo.
Looking at the inclemental weather, the chap at the booking desk advised us to take public transport. We weren’t convinced and the earliest Uber was six minutes away. As we were by the Taxi rank, we opted for a black cab and the cabbie advised taking us to Paddington and then Heathrow Express. Time was of the essence.
As we drove through London, we came across some of my stomping grounds near work. The roads were quite busy and I hadn’t realised just how higgledy-piggledy the roads were from Spitalfields to Euston.
We eventually arrived at Paddington and caught the Heathrow Express without much fanfare.
When trying to check in at the kiosks in T5, we got an error alerting us to see a person. We were then directed to a queue which just didn’t seem to be moving fast and time was ticking. Up to now, I had been feeling strangely calm, I could feel my heart racing, adrenalin coursing through my veins. In an act of desperation, we flagged down a very helpful chap who was initially unsure as to whether we’d make our flight. His supervisor thought otherwise and we were elevated to the front of the queue.
It was a bit touch and go at the counter. The dull but very helpful chap was having difficulties getting us checked through the second leg of the flight but eventually got through. We wouldn’t be sitting next to each other on the first flight to HKG but at this point, I’ll take whatever I can get.
Security, dinner and boarding was fine but we were held at the runway for an indeterminable amount of time due to last minute change of staff and paperwork. Once again, time ticking away, the chances of us making the second leg of the trip was dwindling fast. Rather annoyingly, I wasn’t getting reliable signal on my phone and couldn’t message my significant other. The seat to seat chat didn’t seem to be working either (in retrospect my significant other told me he couldn’t find the chat button). It was a fairly uneventful flight, the only thing of note was that they ran out of sweet and sour chicken by the time it got to my row and I didn’t sleep a wink.
As expected, we missed the connecting flight at HKG but were greeted by very helpful ground-staff. The next few moments felt like a whirlwind of events. We filled in the health declaration, collected bits and pieces for a COVID test, got swabbed, filled in more paperwork, picked up our baggage and issued a meal voucher.
I’m impressed by the organisation of the COVID tests, there was no waiting and everything was very smooth.
For a major international transport hub, I must say that I’m quite disappointed in HKG airport’s eating options. We tried to spend our $HK 150 once we made it airside and it seemed that pretty much everything is shut at 23:00 and reopens at 7:00am. Not even a cafe was open. Vending machines were few and any that were there didn’t accept foreign cards which is not useful at an airport. The take home here is to always pack snacks.
Our flight to NRT was pleasant, JAL’s service was swift and efficient, as you’d expect from Japan’s flagship carrier. Even the food was a few notches about BA.
As soon as we were on the final leg of our trip everything went fairly smoothly. There were some disadvantages to being in NRT super early (before 7:00am), namely that most things are shut apart from the conbini which was a sight for sore eyes.
I’ve lost all sense of time and I’m not even sure what day it is or how long it’s been since we left Cholesbury but we’ve finally made it to Kawaguchiko. I guess it could’ve been worse, we could still be stuck in London since snow has blanketed the country. At last we made it to our final destination and begin the vacation proceedings.