The kids and I have been on the west coast of Sweden at my in-laws summer cottage for a few days now and it feels like we have been here forever and yet also just arrived. Jetlag and long haul flights do that to you, I suppose. The trip over was relatively easy, but from the moment we booked I began worrying about missing our connecting flight. There is no direct flight to Gothenburg, Sweden the city where my mother-in-law is from. Since we will be spending a few days in London on the way home it made sense to have a layover at Heathrow.
But, let me tell you that there was no laying anywhere at Heathrow. We had made the same connection two years ago and had missed our flight so I had reason to be worried. I was alone with the kids and the next flight was eight hours later so we hightailed it into London. It made for quite the story and an experience we will never forgot but it was so exhausting I did not care to repeat it on this trip. British Airways claims (and I called them enough times to know) that one hour is enough to make your connecting flight, but unless the stars align and you run for your life, it is simply not true.
So, I did what any experienced traveler does: I prepared myself for the worse. The kids and I decided that if we missed our flight we would take the Heathrow Express into town and visit the British Muesum. I purposely packed light carry-on in case I had to lug our bags around. I looked at the terminal map to figure out where we had to go. Every morning I checked to see what time BA 0112 from JFK had landed at Heathrow. Usually early and I was hoping for the same for our flight. Luckily, we left on time and landed about 10 minutes early. I had prepped the kids, so as soon as we landed we were ready to move. Once we got on the gangway we started to run: Past the people who sat in business class and had clearly just woken up. Past the American tourists stopped in the middle of the walkway looking at the airport landscape. (Why, people, why? Just keep moving!) Past the kids’ dentist (seriously.) We ran up the tallest escalator we had ever seen, around corners and into the inter-terminal shuttle.
Finally, we made it to the Passengers-in-Transit desk. At this point, Oscar was lagging behind, clutching his side, half crying and claiming he was going to throw up. He told us that he couldn’t make it and that we should just leave him behind. Despite Sofia recommending this course of action we waited for him. I think his very loud complaints that he was was going to puke rattled the woman checking our passports because she escorted us to the fast track security line. (No puking happened.) With a leisurely 10 minutes left, I slowed the pace down a bit. There was only person in line before us and a very short walk to our gate. But, of course that person was carrying about ten mini bottles of various potions and lotions that they had neglected to take out of their bag. Each once had to be checked and rescreened. Finally it was our turn. Sofia’s bag came out first but mine and Oscar’s went down a separate conveyer belt. I had completely forgotten to take out a small bottle of lotion in my bag. Now I was the one holding up the line and would maybe miss my flight as a result. Five minutes left.
“Sofia! Go to our gate! Gate 7, it’s downstairs and around the corner. Go! Tell them to wait for us,” I yelled. She looked at me, grabbed her bag and ran. I begged the screener to just throw out the lotion, whatever she needed to do so I could make my flight. She said nothing and just looked at me. Her eyes said: “you stupid idiot. I hope you miss your flight.” Well, thanks to Sofia, we didn’t. Oscar and I ran downstairs, found our gate and Sofia. We showed our tickets, ran onto the plane and collapsed, exhausted and sweaty into our seats for the short flight to Gothenburg. All I can say is, good luck Sean, I hope you can run as fast as we did! (He arrives on Saturday.)
Although the trip was mildly stressful (certainly nothing compared to some other trips, so I don’t want to tempt the travel gods with too much complaining) it was certainly worth it for this view: