It started out like such a normal day.
We got up this morning – admittedly at the crack of dawn – aboard our cabin on the Royal Princess. Rushing to pack up our bits and pieces, we dressed, and made it in record time to our scheduled departure area. For once, they were actually on time, even a little ahead of time, so we got off the ship and onto our transfer to Heathrow Airport in good time.
We arrived at Terminal 3 of Heathrow about 10:30 a.m. Plenty of time for our 2:30 Virgin Atlantic flight.
And that's when things went awry.
When we had booked and paid for this flight through the Princess EZ air program, we had paid Virgin Atlantic for an upgrade so we could sit together. Several months ago, we noticed on the Princess Cruises site that the flight had changed. Previously, we'd been on a flight leaving Heathrow at noon-ish and getting home, to Dulles International Airport, at 2:30ish. At that time, it had changed so that we were flying to JFK, then home to Dulles at midnight. Obviously, that wasn't ideal, so we called both Princess and Virgin Atlantic, and the upshot was – OR SO WE THOUGHT – that both entities would keep us on the later flight (through JFK) but Virgin would upgrade us to Premium Economy because of the snafu.
We didn't really like it, but we were resigned, and at least we got the upgrade.
Even before we got to Heathrow, I realized I'd made a rookie mistake and some lemon curd we'd spent pretty dearly on at Fornum and Mason was in our carry-on. That necessitated us repacking all of our bags, and in the process we realized Pete's shaving cream was also wrongly packed. Having repacked three of our bags, we proceeded to the Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy check-in.
And it went downhill from there.
We knew we were in trouble when the VA agent said, “Did you change your booking?”
“No,” we said. “Why?” [nervous laughter here, as we can see what's coming].
“They might want to put you on the earlier flight to Washington,” she says.
“That would be awesome,” we say.
“Let me get some help.”
[10 minute wait, and we see the aforementioned help plus another official descending on us].
Turns out, we didn't actually have a ticket for the JFK flight. We had a booking, but that didn't translate, for some reason, into a ticket. And if we wanted Premium Economy, that would be an extra $3000. Each.
They did add they could have gotten us on the Washington flight – we had a reservation for that flight. Of course, however, that flight had already left!
Now all of us are thoroughly confused, and, frankly, Pete is getting angry. By this point, we've been fooling around trying to figure it all out for about 20 minutes.
Call Princess, Virgin Atlantic says. So Pete does.
In the meantime, I got steaming angry. My face got red; Pete was worried I was having a heart attack.
Princess, to give them SOME credit, pulls it out, and books us on a BRITISH AIRWAYS plane leaving at 5ish to Dulles. Slightly better timing. Also Premium Economy.
Trouble is, we're in Heathrow, one of the biggest airports on the face of the earth, in Terminal 3.
British Airways is in Terminal 5. It's a walk and a train ride away. We start off.
And that's when the wheel of our luggage finally falls off.
The good news: We eventually make it to Terminal 5, exhausted and hungry. Have a delicious lunch/breakfast, and the kind BA people tell us our gate number so we don't have to keep checking. So we're sitting at gate B36, Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Or, we just might make it onto our flight at 5.