It’s a strange feeling being stuck; knowing you can’t leave and there are so many other things you should or could be doing but there’s nothing you can do about it. Having no control over the situation is frustrating.
I accompanied a group of our favourite travel writers on a trip to Switzerland last month, so that they could experience flying through London City Airport first hand, to promote the route to Geneva operated by SWISS and to demonstrate the ease of flying from LCY for a skiing break. You can leave your desk at 4pm on Friday, be on a plane by 5.30pm, in the resort in time for a late dinner and drinks, have two days skiing, fly back first thing Monday morning and go straight back to the office. That’s the idea anyway.
The outbound leg of the trip worked like clockwork; through security at LCY in minutes and time for a leisurely breakfast before boarding to get acquainted. A transfer from Geneva by train and bus took us to the Alpine resort of Villars where we enjoyed beautiful scenery, skiing, après-ski, traditional raclette dinner and an all-round magical weekend. That is until we got back to Geneva airport to return home. Of course we knew there was snow in the UK but were hoping that we’d be the lucky ones whose flight was unaffected. Alas no. The flight was cancelled and it dawned on us why there were so many people sitting around going nowhere.
All remaining direct flights to London airports that day were full so we were booked onto the first flight the following morning. The next task was to find somewhere to stay for the night, so we paid a visit to the tourism desk at the airport. The clerk told us that Geneva was full as so many people were stranded so our group of five, who had met for the first time this weekend, would have to share three rooms. Of course we questioned this but were told in no uncertain terms that every hotel was full so off we went with our reservation to the hotel he had selected for us.
On arrival at the hotel I asked again about additional rooms. Turns out the hotel wasn’t full at all. Around an hour and a half later, when the receptionist had finished arguing with the airport tourism office we finally got our original reservation cancelled and rebooked five individual rooms. Exhausted and irritated we had dinner and got an early night ready for a 5.00am start to make our flight.
Back at Geneva airport we checked in, went through security, arrived at the gate and every information screen said the flight was on time. Phew. Time ticked on and 15 minutes after our scheduled take off time, the flight was cancelled. None of us could quite believe it. “What if we never leave here and I have to wear these clothes for the rest of my life?” said one of the group. “If I’d have known this would be the last outfit I ever got to choose I’d have chosen it differently.” Humour kept us going. Kept us going back out of security, down to arrivals to reclaim our bags for the second time. Back to the check in desk to get our third boarding pass in two days; maybe this one would be third time lucky. To our new in-direct route of Zurich for a five hour layover and then onward to an alternative London airport. In total a 31 hour delay and a challenging experience, but a great ‘travel chaos’ story to share and a bunch of new friends.
Of course heavy snow is not a problem we face every day in the UK and it’s rare for it to cause major travel disruption. Our trip took us to a country where snow is the norm and enabled us to experience life on the piste, and the whole group fell in love with it.
You can fly direct from LCY to Switzerland, France and Italy, from where a whole host of ski resorts are within easy reach. Or if you prefer to keep a firm grip on the ground beneath your feet you can choose another of our 44 destinations for a well-deserved break. We offer some of the quickest times through departures and arrivals of any airport and free wifi for all passengers, so it really is the most efficient way to travel to and from London. Snow permitting…