Tier Point Run to Hawaii in Dec 2022: Day 5 – New York (JFK) to London (LHR)
It was a great feeling to walk from the AA inbound flight straight into a nice suite of lounges, where I could wait for my BA flight back to Heathrow. So much better than having to change terminals at JFK.
I decided to spend a bit more time in the Soho Lounge today and I also popped into the Greenwich Lounge as well, just so that I could finish off my review of the new BA/AA Lounges at JFK. Read my JFK T8 Lounge Review.
I had about 4 hours in the lounges today, waiting for my flight back to Heathrow. As it happens that wait was extended due to a flight plan system issue in London, which meant that any BA flight which didn’t have a flight plan already filed in the system were put on hold. No aircraft could move until flight plans had been filed properly. Worst case, BA would have to file those flight plans manually, so this could have been a long delay! Apparently it’s a Lufthansa (LH) Flight Plan system that BA use, so it may not technically be an BA IT issue but a LH IT issue – we will find out more in due course.
Flight: BA0172 Equip: 777-300
Sched Depart: 20:55 Actual: N/A
Sched Arrival: 08:45 Actual: N/A
Takeoff: N/A Landing: N/A
At some point late afternoon/early evening, the flight planning system problem arose. BA didn’t advise any passengers at this point, but it became obvious when the first few evening flights did not start to board when they were supposed to. As a result the lounges started to swell as all of those passengers that should have already boarded/flown remained in the lounges and new passengers started to arrive. Seating started to become a rare resource!
We all just waited patiently in the Chelsea Lounge. That was in contrast with the Greenwich Lounge, where there were passengers shouting at attendants asking about when they were likely to get away. The lounge staff were as poorly informed as the passengers were, so it was not a good advert for BA!
At around 11:30pm, the systems issue appeared to have been sorted and the first few flights of the evening received flight plans and announcements were made that boarding had commenced. You could hear the cheers across all three lounges!
The BA0172 (the 20:55 departure) was about number 3 or 4 in the list and we finally got an announcement at about 12:15am. Boarding would commence from Gate 20. When I got down there it was an almighty mess. Passengers everywhere; boarding doors were open but nothing was happening.
There was finally a call for Group 1 passengers only and me (amongst others) had to scrambled through a mass of people to get to the scanners. Finally on board into seat 01A at around 1am and I felt relieved that it looked like I was getting out tonight. I spoke too soon!
It became obvious that the crew (flight crew and cabin crew) had timed out of legally allowed working hours and that the flight was only progressing as a result of their flexibility. I.e. they agreed to work extra hours, at an assumed overtime rate paid by BA. Good on them. But that really meant that we couldn’t afford any other mess ups before taking off.
We pushed back at around 2am and started heading to the runway to take off. At 2:15am, we then had cabin crew quietly advise First Class passengers that there was a medical emergency in the back of the aircraft and that a woman was unresponsive. When she said that I immediately thought someone had passed away! It turned out that it wasn’t quite as bad as all that.
She carried on to explain that meant we would have to return to the gate. Everyone would be stuck on the aircraft until the medical emergency was resolved so there was no hope of allowing the crew to then continue to fly the aircraft back to Heathrow. The flight would therefore be cancelled. Being in seat 01A, I overheard a lot of conversations in the galley about what they should do next. It felt a bit disorganised but the captain attempted to show some leadership.
We returned to Gate 20 and the medical emergency was offloaded. We then had a further delay whilst the ground staff prepared for our arrival. During the delay I changed into my jeans and I was so pleased I did later on.
About 20 mins later we were allowed off the aircraft; somehow I managed to be one of the first few passengers off. We deplaned back into the departures area and we were directed by ground personnel to go landside and look for Check-in Lane 4. Sounded odd but we decided to follow instructions.
After getting into the check-in area, it became obvious that we weren’t the only ones looking for help with hotels and rebooking. The queue must have been 200m long, winding around the terminal building. I concluded that there was no point in staying in the queue, so I rang the Hilton JFK and booked a room. Then I headed off to the AirTrain. I had hoped that I wouldn’t be seeing the AirTrain on this trip!
I reached Federal Circle and waited for the Hilton shuttle bus. It was freezing cold outside (hence why I was pleased I had changed into my jeans on the plane). Whilst I waited I decided to ring the GGL line to see what they could do for me. With hindsight, I should have rung the GGL line on the aircraft as soon as I heard that the flight was being cancelled. You live and learn!
I gave up on the Hilton shuttle bus and ordered an Uber instead. I stayed on the GGL line during my short drive to the hotel and I apologised to the driver for being on the phone for the whole ride. He was easy with it.
Check in at the hotel was fine and I was soon into room 901. From there I spent another 30 mins trying to finalise my rebooking with the GGL line. They managed to lose a BA First Class seat on the BOS-LHR day flight on the following day and I ended up with a United Airlines Polaris Business Class seat from Newark later today instead.
Either way it would mean I would end up being back home one day later than planned. The Vickster wasn’t too chuffed, having to deal with two naughty pussy cats, especially Mango who has started scratching outside our bedroom door at 5am each morning.
By the time I got into bed at around 4am, I was frozen, but at least I was looking forward to a few hours kip. What a day…
Follow the whole story here: Tier Point Run to Hawaii in Dec 2022