Sat night was something that I was looking forward to. I was flying back to the UK and the plane was due to land in Luton at 21:40, and my plan was to go home and drop off my suitcases, then head straight out into town for a mate's birthday. Mother Nature and fate must have got together for some tea and biscuits and decided to change my plans, and replace it with the day from hell!
Everything went smoothly at the other end. The plane came in early (which was due to a massive tail wind all the way down), and my flight had everyone boarded 20 mins before we were due to take off. Excellent I thought! Get home a bit earlier, which means I can meet my friends earlier! Bring on the party!
Anyway, the doors close and the Captain comes on the radio saying that there will be a head wind all the way back up which will slow us down, but despite this we'll still be landing 10 mins early. Then this is where fate started to bugger up my evening without me even knowing about it.
The crew started their safety procedures. This was an EasyJet flight, so they use the pre-recorded message and the stewardesses just move their arms about and show you how a life jacket works. Only they didn't, because the one in the middle got hers all tangled up so she couldn't continue. But the bloke on the recording obviously kept going, so they had to stop it until she got herself sorted. It turns out that you can't 'pause' these messages because when they went to start it again, it started from the beginning. So they fumbled about for ages trying to get it to start from the bit with the life jackets. Finally, after about 5 mins, they realised that they would have to do it the old fashioned way and talk over the tannoy. When the woman started talking, the whole plane started cheering and clapping! This then set the whole crew into fits of laughter! The woman on the radio could barely say 2 words before pissing herself again. The whole plane was looking back and laughing which only made things worse. Meanwhile, we were sat at the start of the runway patiently waiting to take off, which they can't do until the safety procedure was done. About 5-10 mins later, they compose themselves and finally finish it and the whole plane starts to clap and cheer again. Now all this was a good laugh and quite enjoyable. Lots of banter and joking around the plane and over the radio etc. So all was good, everyone was in a good mood.
The rest of the flight went smooth enough. 45 mins from landing, the Captain comes over the radio and says that the runway at Luton was still ok and that the heavy snow forecast didn't come yet and that in 15 mins, he would put on the seatbelt lights for the final decent. About 20 mins later, I noticed that the seatbelt light hadn't come on yet. I thought that it was a bit strange, but didn't think anything of it. 5 mins later, the Captain comes back over the radio saying that a fire alarm had gone off in the control tower and they had to evacuate it and he didn't know if it was a false alarm or what, so we stayed in a holding pattern above Luton until more info came through.
Enter Mother Nature. 10-15 mins later, he comes back on the radio saying that they've closed Luton Airport because the snow had arrived and that we were now being diverted to Stansted. Seatbelt lights came on and we started our final decent. You could tell that we were getting lower and lower. We couldn't have been more than 5 mins away from landing, when suddenly the engines throttle up and we start pointing towards to sky again! Captain comes on the radio saying that Stansted was now closed because of the snow, and that we were now diverted into Gatwick!
Now we were the 3rd plane in a queue of 8 coming from Luton, plus the planes from Stansted now heading towards Gatwick. So when we finally land at 10:30, it was complete pandemonium! Nobody had a clue what was going on and we were ushered to the EasyJet departure checkins so they could tell us what was going to happen. A fairly clueless bloke there said that they would organise busses to get us back to Luton Airport. I asked him when the busses would arrive and he said he didn't know. So I then asked when he would know when the busses would come, and he said 45 mins. So basically, in 45 mins he could tell us when a bus was going to arrive! So I thought sod that, and started looking at other ways of getting home.
Now I HATE public stransport. You won't see me on a bus or a train if I can help it. But despite this, I was considering trains to get back. They said that all trains were running fine and that they would refund train tickets if we kept receipts, but 'couldn't gaurantee' that they would refund taxi fares home. I was chatting to a couple of other passengers and we came to the conclusion that we would share an 8 man cab and head to the Airport. So we went around trying to find some more people, which wasn't easy!
Anyway, some more time goes by when EasyJet then pipe up saying that they could only get 1 bus and the first 49 people in a queue would take it and the rest would be put up in a hotel. I just wanted to get home that night so thought bugger this, and went to get a train. There wasn't a direct link to Luton which meant I had to get a train into London, then head back up. I wasn't happy with it, but I would do it. Then news reaches me that trains had started to get cancelled because the lines were freezing up. Outstanding!
At this point I just didn't care anymore so went to the taxi rank and told him to book me a cab to Luton Airport. My train of thought was I'm not going home, and that I'm only going where the flight was supposed to take me in the first place. So refund was still possible! I only live 10 mins away from the airport anyway, so all was good! A couple of hiccups at this stage. The guy told me that the taxi driver might not want to go that far because the M25 was a nightmare, and that I had to wait at least an hour before there was a cab for me. Oh, and the fare was £165. I bit the bullet and told them to book it for me.
00:15 comes and my name gets called up and the cab driver is willing get me there. Result! Not only that, but they got 2 more people to come in the cab so it'll only cost £55! So off we went! Slowly. Very slowly! M25 was indeed a nightmare. Nothing but BM's and Mercs either in a barrier, facing the wrong way or both! Then a lorry jack knifed a couple of junctions ahead of us on the M25 and everything comes to a stand still with nowhere to go.
What time did I finally get home? 05:00. So if it wasn't for the delay with the life jackets, then we would have missed the silly bugger who probably burnt a bit of toast in the control tower and set off the fire alarm, which means the snow wouldn't have even affected me! My boast in life is that I'm on a plane maybe 20+ times a year and that I've NEVER been delayed. Not any more! lol
By the way, is anyone still with me at this stage or am I talking on my own? lol
Anyway, thanks for reading (partially or fully) about my experience and hope that you had a smooth enough weekend!