Saturday 29 October 2022

22 OCW Even The Travel

I have often written a travelogue alongside a blog post for an event, and after almost 3 years here is a new one.

Travel has NOT returned to normal, shortage of staff at all airports is causing my difficulties and in my main hub, Heathrow, it resulted in passenger number caps. In order to comply airlines have removed many flights from their schedules and for me living in N Ireland the cap means only 3 flights a day instead of the normal 7. That is bad enough but demand for those flights has seen prices rocket, and with flights almost twice the cost of last year it isn't the airlines that are suffering. For me this has meant either long lay overs in Heathrow or being forced to travel from Dublin with a 2 and half hour drive or taxi each way. I am getting used to it but it has taken much of the fun out of travel.

For OCW, I started on an early flight to Heathrow and settled into the British Airways lounge for my almost 7 hour wait. I was not travelling business class but since i have the status I did have lounge access. Luckily for me Abi Giles-Haigh was on the same flight to Vegas and when she arrived from her first leg, she joined me for the wait. 

It would have been rude not to make the most of it.

The flight to Vegas was non eventful, the plane was crowded and not particularly comfortable, I didn't get any sleep but I did watch the Top Gun sequel to while away some of the time. On arrival I was so pleased to have Global Entry and fly through immigration only to have to wait almost an hour for my bags.

For some reason Oracle housing said you had to check into the venetian at the Palazzo Tower which meant dragging two large suitcases (one full of company swag), across carpets and 2 casinos, only to be told when checking in that my room was in Venezia Tower, back where I started! And then I kid you not my room was as far away as possible from the  convention centre. No problem getting my steps in at this event.

That all said I had nice room and got myself settled for the  next week.

Fast forward a week and it was time to go home. I was flying out Saturday and had Sai Penumuru as my guest in the  lounge at Vegas. It sounds like I am proud of being a benefactor in this way, but actually I just love having someone to hang out with and get my moneys worth from the airlines.

The flight back to London was pretty good, and I slept for almost 2 thirds of it, so I was happy. We landed about 3pm on Sunday and I said goodbye to Sai as he ran through immigration and security to get his flight home, but I, true to form had a long layover till 7.30pm. So back to the lounge.

I didn't really notice the thunderstorm, I was so tired but another friend messaged me to say was i getting home? Of course I said, all on time, and it was at that point. The storms were followed by a beautiful sunset and then just as I was expecting the gate number to come up, they cancelled all short haul flights. As it was due to weather their only need was to give me a new flight, which I had to do online.

On leaving the lounge the queue to exit the terminal was horrendous, everyone having to be checked out by security. If you know Heathrow Terminal 5 the queue snaked around the entire area. I did however get a hint from a member of staff who told me to get a shuttle train out to the far gates and back again which would take me to main exit and bypass the queue. It was worth the  20 minute detour as I later heard people saying it took over 2 hours to get out.

Luckily I stay at Heathrow a lot and was able to book a hotel without much problem and got into my room 3 hours after the  flight was cancelled.

Luckily my status gave me priority and I got the first flight home in the morning, but that was delayed and as expected my luggage wasn't as lucky.  So I got home 36 hours after I left my Vegas Hotel and my luggage another 10. I wonder how long it will take for my claim?

Oh how I have missed travel.

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