Find Your Travel Buddy: What To Do When You Miss Your Flight
Feb 28, 2017
Want to find your travel buddy? Here is a pretty long-winded way of going about it, but it’s totally worth the journey.
London was not kind to me. At all.
In the short week that I had planned to venture to all of its main attractions, my (travel) world crumbled beneath me in the space of just a few short days.
Virgin Atlantic somehow managed to lose (they insist it was only “delayed”) my luggage. The day after it had arrived the majority of my belongings were either drenched and/or destroyed after the roof of the hostel I was staying in collapsed during a storm.
Determined as I was to stay spirited, I was struck down with a violent bout of food poisoning that culminated in me barely surviving a crippling week-long illness.
If that wasn’t enough, my prized Nikon D5600 dSLR camera was stolen from my hostel dorm room while I was in hospital.
So, it’s fair to say that I was quietly excited come the morning I was meant to leave London on a miserable Monday morning to peruse Paris.
To fly with easyJet from London Gatwick to Paris Charles de Gaulle at 8:05am seemed a better option than catching the Eurostar due to how late I’d left it to book (Keep in mind that I was in hospital for a few days with access to barely any technology).
Get in the bus from a bus stop just outside Brixton at 5:30am, take the 6am Gatwick Express from Victoria Station to arrive by 6:30am, check-in my only bag at the Auto Bag Drop kiosk, wander straight to the gate after a quick bite for breakfast and get the HELL out of London. All for the best part of £40.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Bus didn’t show up. Uber got lost (how does that even happen with Maps?!). Missed the 6am Gatwick Express.
I arrived at Gatwick South Terminal at 6:45am and the Auto Bag Drop kiosks were down and the check-in lines a monstrosity. Minutes later I got kicked out of the ‘Family Only’ line that I wasn’t even standing in by an airport representative who said easyJet flights left from this terminal after I asked. They didn’t. I didn’t realise until until I grew too anxious to wait and went straight to the front of the Service Desk line.
I had to sprint with all of my luggage to get on the next shuttle train to the Gatwick North Terminal. I had realised that it was 7:15am by the time I got on the shuttle train. Time was running out.
I bolted straight for the easyJet Service Desk and told them I had maybe 15 minutes to get through the entire terminal to my flight, to which they ensured me that they would hold the plane for me.
Even after being assured it was all going to be OK, passing security seemed to take an eternity. The woman in front of me was confronted at least four times by security for having bottles of water, make up and toothpaste in her bag. Ugh.
Still breathless from the Crossfit-like interval training I was enduring getting from end to end of the airport, I made it to the giant Departures screen next to the Airport Information desk in the North Terminal.
E-Z-Y-8-3-2-3…E-Z-Y-8-3-2-3…E-Z-Y-8-3-2-3. I’m literally saying the flight number out aloud as I scan the list of departing flights. Nope, it’s definitely not there.
“Excuse me, can you tell me which gate flight EZY8323 is leaving from?” I turn to ask the Information Desk attendant, Carlos.
“Hmm…” he says as he begins to leave the Information Desk to scan through the same departures board I was looking at.
“It’s not on the board, I’ve just checked it,” I said.
“Oh, well it mustn’t be boarding anymore then.”
I looked at my watch. It was just on 7:40am. That’s still 25 minutes before the plane was due to leave.
“Can you tell me where it is and I’ll run to the gate?” I begged.
“I’m sorry,” he replied. “If it’s not on the board I can’t see it.”
“Look,” I said. “Surely you can call easyJet, ask them where this flight is leaving from and tell them I’m coming.”
Carlos jumped on the phone, pressed a few buttons, had a seemingly short conversation with someone and then looked calmly at me with a soothing smile.
“It’s going to be OK,” he said. “Come with me.”
Just as we started walking, I noticed a blonde girl who must have been on the same Crossfit circuit that I had been on – she was out of breathe, hair everywhere, clothes and jewelry hanging on by the fairest of margins. Yet there was something about her.
“Excuse me,” she said. “Which gate is flight EZY8323 to Paris leaving from?”
“Ah, you too?” Carlos asked, gesturing for her to follow, as I began to explain what had transpired just moments earlier.
We both walked together behind Carlos as he took us through a side door and across the terminal. We were making small talk and I could barely take my eyes off her, so I wasn’t very conscious of where we were going or what the time was. Her name was Mariana, travelling solo across the world in a break from a hard life at home just outside of Seattle, only about 45 minutes away from where I lived.
“Get your passports out,” Carlos interrupted. As I looked up, I realised we were at Border Security. We had already been through Passport Control, so why were we back here?
As I looked at my watch, it had just ticked to 8am.
“Trust me, you’re going to get to Paris,” said Carlos.
We were whisked through Immigration and went across a part of the North Terminal that I recognised – I was here before I went through security. We went into an elevator, up to the second level, and out around the corner.
Carlos, still walking ahead of us, was headed directly for the easyJet sales desk.
“Carlos, it’s 8:05,” I said. “Is the plane still waiting for us?”
“Oh no, the plane has already left,” he said.
“SO WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?!” I screamed. Even Mariana looked a little stunned but she was also just as confused as to why Carlos had mysteriously led us to the sales desk.
“Well, if you still want to go to Paris you have to buy a ticket here,” he said calmly before walking behind the desk and out a back door.
I was completely fed up with London at this stage. I needed a few minutes to cool off, so Mariana took over negotiations.
“We’ve got time before the next planes leave for Paris, so let’s grab some food and sort something out,” Mariana suggested as she motioned for me to head to the food court.
All frustrations aside, I was actually quite happy about at least being stuck with someone like her. We chatted for a little while over some food and compared all possibilities with different airlines, prices and arrival times.
We decided to go back to easyJet to bargain with them – after all, Carlos had taken us on a ride. Mariana did all the talking – she was collected and convincing.
In the end, Mariana came back to me with an ultimatum: We pay £140 each for the next flight to Paris with Vueling Airlines, or we wait four hours in the airport and get on a free easyJet ticket.
It would be nice to get out of this place, I thought. I could barely stand it anymore. If it wasn’t for Mariana I would have been long gone already.
“Staying in the airport an extra four hours is a long time,” she said. “And it’s already been a long morning.”
“But at least we’d get to do it together,” she smiled.
Very, very, very long story short, staying at Gatwick Airport for the extra four hours was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. Mariana and I ended up staying at the same hotel that night and we’ve since travelled to 19 countries across Europe in just over three months.
All it took was a smile.
You can find your travel buddy by using HangAround – the new app connecting travellers inside airports around the word at any time!