Obviously with the news that various flights were getting cancelled, we were quite worried that our flight would be amongst them. On Sunday, we took a late check out (figuring that if the flight was cancelled, we could stay in San Francisco an extra night before heading back to Palo Alto so Alex could work) and all day had the American Airlines webpages open on our iPhones and laptops, constantly refreshing to see the current status of the flight. We were flying from San Francisco to New York (JFK) to Heathrow.
Current status: On time. Current status: On time. Current status: On time.
Everytime we refreshed the query, the flight AA 142 was still showing as on time. Boarding for our flight from SFO happened at about 10.45pm (PST), and we did one last check before switching off our phones.
Current status: On time.
The cross country flight was about as pleasant as an Easyjet flight with a drunken pilot. I had a kid behind me kicking the back of my chair, and another one next to me crying for the whole flight. I think I managed to get an hour or sos sleep sat in an uncomfortable position (a movie was shown, and I know I was awake for the beginning and the end of it)
We landed at JFK at about 7.30am (EST) and walked quickly to find a departures board to find out where our flight was to leave from. You already know this bit. Flight AA142 to Heathrow: Cancelled. Nothing else. We went down to baggage check (if a flight is cancelled, we’ll need our bags!) but they didn’t appear at all. We went up to the check in desks where 2 desks had been opened up to deal with the people who were supposed to be on that flight. We joined the queue at 8am, with about 10-15 people infront of us. It took 2, 2 and a half hours to reach the front of that queue.
In the meantime, Alex and I sat on the cold hard floor (my bum still feels a bit numb) and pulled out our laptops and phones. He was talking to his colleagues to see if they could sort out anything, and I hopped on Twitter. We contacted the European American Airlines account and by the time we reached the front of the queue (literally, receiving confirmation as we went to the next available desk), we had been booked onto a flight to London leaving Xmas Eve.
We got to the desk to check the amendment, and to get the info on times, etc. We asked where our bags were and told (quite rudely I thought) that they should be downstairs – “the flights cancelled, its not like they can go anywhere”
Eventually we found our bags, had an hotel booked by Alex’s company and got a taxi to the hotel.
At no point did any American Airlines representative come round to explain the situation. No one said “Sorry about this queue, we’re trying to get everyone rebooked onto flights back to the UK”. We were treated as if we were an inconvenience. When we got to the front of the queue, the woman on the desk was rude and abrupt.
I know that we are very lucky compared to most people. Alex’s company will cover the cost of the taxis to and from the airport, and the hotel. If we had been paying for this trip ourselves, then we would be totally screwed.
It seems that Heathrow is getting back to normal now, so hopefully we’ll be able to get back to London on Christmas Day (meaning of course that I can’t go home to be with my family). Without sounding overdramatic, Christmas is cancelled.
Whilst the @AAEurope Twitterer has been super helpful, I doubt either of us will choose to fly with American Airlines again – especially considering that other airlines were able to fly into Heathrow that day from JFK.