Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Why Is It So Hard to Travel to London?

Two flights to London in my lifetime: once in 2017 and now again in 2019–each time a nerve-wracking experience!

On July 19, 2019, Lin, my husband, and I started the first leg of our trip to London for a twelve-day cruise of the British Isles and flew from Albuquerque, NM to Denver, CO. We got our flight through Norwegian cruise lines, and the one catch was that it had to be through a major airport, so that’s why we had to go to Denver.

We live in the east mountains above Albuquerque and the drive to the airport takes about thirty minutes. Most of our travel is on I-40, and there was an accident in front of us, but –thank God—we saw the slow down and ducked off the Interstate at a nearby exit. If we had been further down the highway, we would have been caught there and possibly missed our flight. After breathing deeply, we both sighed and realized a near miss.

We both flew to Denver on Southwest Airlines for free which always makes the flight sweet. Also, we flew at 5:50 PM which meant no getting up at O’Dark Thirty to start our adventure.

We arrived in Denver at 7:00 PM, wondering if we needed to eat at the airport before finding the shuttle to the Microtel Hotel near the airport. So, I called the hotel and got a strange response when asked if there was a restaurant within walking distance.

 “There should be!” Lin and I both laughed and decided to take our chance there because food is so expensive in an airport. We maneuvered our bags to level five, island three to wait for the shuttle.

The warm Colorado evening invited us to sit and enjoy the beginning of our travels. It took the shuttle over thirty minutes to arrive, but we relaxed and anticipated our trip. We had originally planned a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in November but had to cancel it because of the death of a dear friend. We reveled in the fact that nothing could go wrong this time—Norwegian cruise lines had booked our flights and they were professionals. They would allow enough time between flights–nothing to worry about!

When we arrived at the hotel, we saw a restaurant within walking distance, so we registered at the desk. I peered at the guy who had given me such a strange response, and he told the person in front of us that there was a restaurant within 10 seconds of the hotel. I laughed to myself at both responses. We ditched our bags in the room, ate dinner, and had a relaxed, restful night. We had come into Denver a night early so we could catch our flight easily the next day.

When I got up the next morning, I planned on wearing the same clothes, but I could smell BO on my top, so I hand-washed it and then dried it with the hair dryer.

The night before we had reserved a shuttle back to the airport at 12:30 PM and went downstairs to check out about noon, and the shuttle was already there, so we took it. We grabbed lunch at Pandora Express and enjoyed the leisure atmosphere.

Lin and I aboard the Air Canada Flight for Toronto–Excited about our adventure ahead!

Our flight to London started with the first leg to Toronto, Canada leaving Denver at 5:25 PM. Yes, we were early, but we found our gate, and I used the time wisely to work on my current writing project of the Marshall Flippo biography. Great uninterrupted time to work!

Before leaving home, Lin had checked the weather in Toronto, and thunderstorms threatened the area, but no one from the airlines had said anything, so we let it go.

We boarded the Air Canada plane and then sat and sat. For thirty minutes,  a flight attendant walked through the cabin counting the passengers, then one came and asked the person sitting across from us to move at takeoff to distribute the weight more evenly—I had never heard that before.

Awhile later, the pilot announced that they needed to check the air in one of the tires—oh, no! Here we go again! We just lost over thirty minutes!

When it finally took off, I relaxed and worked on my book project. We were to arrive at 10:29 PM and the flight to Heathrow took off at 11:50 PM—plenty of time, I thought. I hadn’t done the math. Lin kept his eye on the flight monitor on the TV and kept calculating and recalculating our arrival time, getting more nervous the farther we went. He shared his concern with me, and we talked to the flight attendant about our possible peril. She assured us there would be plenty of time.

When we got to Toronto, we had to go through customs. Then we had no idea where to go, no idea of the gate number for our flight, and no signage to point us in the right direction. We walked down a hall desperate to find help.

Then we found an Air Canada employee who told us to go to level three to security, so we found level three but had trouble finding security. The lights were dimmed and the only people there were the cleaning crew. Somehow, we found security. He let us through a back door and all I saw in front of me was a long corridor.

The corridor went on and on!

Lin started walking, half-running down the corridor, and I had to run to keep up with him. It went on and on. I tripped once and almost hit the ground, but I steadied myself and kept going. Now he was nearly out of sight rounding a corner. So it was a full-out run now.

When I caught him, we stood at an intersection; only two people were there. Lin ran over to a counter and asked where to go.

“Gate 75.”

The other two people yelled, “Go straight through there and turn right.”

So, we did, and the workers at that gate waved and yelled, “Are you the Millers? They are closing the door right now!” We sprinted over; they checked us in and we walked on the plane and they closed the doors behind us!

The plane had been delayed ten minutes because of a rain delay—oh, my God! That’s what saved us!

We found our seats, sat down and breathed. Sweat dripped down my back and I panted now because of the race we just did. Trembling, I said to Lin, “Why is it so hard to get to London?”

We did make it, and I will take you on our twelve-day adventure cruising around the British Isles over the next few weeks in my blogs.

Have you ever had a travel experience like this? Share yours in the Comments section below.

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Ireland & England · Travel

Day 1 – Our Travel Day from Hell!


Our much-awaited trip started on July 12, 2017. I got up at 4:00 am to shower and be ready to leave, hopefully before 6:00 am, but it was a little afterwards. We decided to travel with a medium size suitcase and a carry-on instead of one big suitcase and that benefited us with our two rental cars.

We arrived at the airport later than I like–they were boarding the plane when we arrived at our gate. We were in the B group, so we were OK. I had to pinch myself to see if this were real! We had planned this trip for six months, and here it was!

Immediately on the plane, I took selfies of Lin and me to start a notebook journal about our trip–sad to say it only lasted a couple days, but I did buy a journal in Blarney and took notes the whole trip.

Back to our first travel day. Lin and I regularly use our Southwest credit cards, so we had free flights to New York, but we had to travel through Midway in Chicago. The flight was uneventful at first–Lin napped, but I couldn’t! I was too excited. Sometime into our flight, the pilot announced that a thunder storm had hit Chicago and both major airports were closed and they were diverting us to Kansas City. I started praying!

When I had booked our tickets, I had allowed ample time to facilitate a transfer because we were flying into La Guardia and British Airways flies out of JFK. I knew we were in trouble now. The prayers continued.

I questioned a flight attendant about what we should do. She had no idea because we weren’t the only one affected. When we landed in Kansas City, they ushered the passengers traveling to New York off the plane first. They put us on a flight leaving at 1:30 pm, but it wouldn’t arrive in New York in time for us to transfer from La Guardia to JFK. My prayers continued.

I panicked but did what I do in a crisis–act! I was on the phone with British Airways for well over an hour trying to solve our problem. I couldn’t understand either agent I talked to. He repeatedly put me on hold and said, “I will be back in a couple minutes.” This went on and on. This agent did know there would be a fee for missing our flight and booking another one at such a late time. He transferred me to a second agent, and he told me it would be over $1600 each to rebook–I was shocked! I hit high gear on praying. I knew my God was in the midst of this and would handle it for us, but I was so worried. It’s hard to let go at time like this.

I spent all my time on the flight to New York on the Internet searching for a flight that would work and a price that would work–there wasn’t one that would work because all were over $1500 each. Lin was adamant that we do nothing until we got to New York. My panic increased–were we going to miss our flight to London? We were to arrive in London at 7:10 am and had a flight to Ireland at 10:30 am. Would it all get screwed up because of a summer thunderstorm in Chicago? I had to keep trusting it would work out!

Again I talked to the Southwest flight attendants, and they helped us move up from the back of the plane to the front and helped move our carry-on bags too. We deplaned quickly, I retrieved our bags, and Lin hailed a taxi with a determined driver.

It was slow going from La Guardia to JFK because we hit rush hour traffic, but the taxi driver drove like a maniac–like they do in New York. I had to close my eyes several times because I was sure that he was going got to clip the car he passed. He also took my phone and talked to British Airways as he drove, trying to help us.

We arrived at the British Airways ticket counter a few minutes after they stopped accepting passengers for our flight–for International flights, they close the gate twenty minutes before the plane’s scheduled departure.

Determined to deal with this in a positive way and get to London on time, we talked to a British Airways agent and she sent us to a manager. Lin calmly shared our sad tale. She wasn’t interested in our lament about a thunderstorm in Chicago that delayed our Southwest flight.

She stated, “We don’t care what happens to you before you get to British Airways.”

I swallowed and shot up a barrage of prayers.

Then she softened some as she searched the computer screen, “Let me see what flight I can get you on.”

I knew the answer: I had memorized the flights from my earlier search. I  interruptted her, “I know what flights are going out. . .’

“Stop,” she said as wiggled her finger at me, looked me dead in the eyes and exclaimed, “I’m trying to help you. Don’t go there.”

Lin grabbed my arm and pulled me back and agreed with her, so I stepped back, shut up and continued my litany of prayers.

We couldn’t have hoped for a better ending:  she got us on a flight that left about twenty minutes after our original flight, so we had to scurry to the gate. Lin offered her a kiss and she giggled. We ended up not paying anything more. Thank you, British Airways for taking care of us–and thank you, God!

Have you ever had a travel day like this ours? Share your experience in the Comments section below!