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Entries about layover

Bleary-eyed beyond belief

London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Mariscal Sucre (Quito) and José Joaquín de Olmedo International (Guayaquil)

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I'm writing this from Guayaquil, because I didn't have internet connection while I was actually at Heathrow.

I actually left St Albans the night before, on the 15th, because my plane was due to leave Heathrow at 6.35 am and I didn't want to go on a long, expensive taxi journey in the middle of the night. I caught one of the latest possible trains to St Pancras International - Mum, Kate, Emma and Mark saw me off at St Albans station - and got the tube from there all the way to Heathrow Terminal 4.

I sat down in a normal waiting seat, read and had a snack or two. After a while a female airport employee came up and said it was OK for me to go into the exclusive club lounge and lie down on the couch there, because it wasn't officially open so nobody else was in it. I checked that it was definitely OK for me to be there and she said yes, so in I went and set up my position for the night... Of course, after only 15 minutes or so two security men appeared on their round of the terminal and kicked me out! The fact that I'd been told it was OK didn't make any difference with them, so I had to go back to where I'd been sitting before.

The plane was about half an hour late leaving Heathrow so since I had a short connection time at the other end already, I practically had to gallop through Amsterdam Schiphol to get to the right gate in time. I had no time to look round any of the shops. While I was in the boarding queue I noticed that it said 'gate closing', but despite running over time they still let everybody in the queue on the plane, thank goodness. Then it turned out that I needn't have bothered rushing, because we spent an hour and a half sitting on the plane before it set off due to a problem with one of the computers!

Unfortunately on this flight I was in the middle of the middle row, not next to a window. I managed to get a couple of hours sleep and I also read a lot on my Kindle. We only arrived at Quito half an hour late because we'd made up an hour on the way (maybe the wind was behind us). I and the other people who were staying on the same flight to go on to Guayaquil didn't have to get out of the plane and go into transit at Quito, unlike what happened the other two times I've done this journey. We left at the right time so arrived bang on time at Guayaquil. I was apprehensive about whether my hold bag would make it on the same flight or not after the rush at Amsterdam, but as it happens my bag was the first out so you can imagine my relief!

It was just getting dusky when I stepped out of the arrivals lounge. 28 degrees, but also very lightly spitting with rain which felt quite refreshing.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:18 Archived in Netherlands Tagged trains united_kingdom airport layover ecuador guayaquil st_albans Comments (0)


Amsterdam Schiphol, London Heathrow and St Albans

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Edit from January 2019: Again, in this blog's original appearance, on Travelpod, I wrote this retrospectively. Originally I had this split into three separate entries, but I've combined them here.

A near- four hour wait at Amsterdam Schiphol, but time passed quickly because of the amount of duty-free shops to look round. I also saw works of art by Franz Hals, Johan Barthold Jongkind, Karel Appel and more at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol.

At Heathrow Terminal 4 it was wonderful to walk into the Arrivals lounge and be enveloped in hugs by Dave. Kate was there too which was lovely of course - as it was to see Emma once we had joined her upstairs in Wetherspoons, where she was sitting waiting for food to arrive (having thought incorrectly that she had time for a quick bite before I arrived!) I didn't order any food but I did have a Diet Coke and relieved Emma of one or two of her chips.

It was well after dark by the time we got back from Heathrow. Dad opened the door and Mum was close behind. Not much more to say here apart from a repeat the same word from the last entry - wonderful.

Posted by 3Traveller 08:03 Archived in Netherlands Tagged art airport museum sisters dad dave mum layover st_albans Comments (0)

Return to Ecuador

More hassle at Barajas Airport, Madrid

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I had a 17-hour wait at Terminal 4S, Barajas Airport. I arrived late evening so didn't think it worthwhile to leave the airport and check into a hostel when I could just spend the night at the airport for free. The time passed more quickly than I thought it would. I did a few rounds of the duty-free shops but didn't buy anything, explored, watched the second half of the Spain-Chile football match that appeared on a screen by one of the boarding gates, and read the three newspapers I'd brought from the UK. I tried to avoid reading any of the books I'd brought because I knew they'd have to last me until Christmas! In the early hours of the morning they showed all of a Brazil-Portugal football match, so I watched that as well. I changed a 10-dollar note into euros, but this only resulted in enough to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola Light, a chocolate muffin and a ristretto coffee. Even the cheapest sandwich cost too much after I'd got my drink, so the muffin was the most filling-looking option. I couldn't use my card because since I didn't tell HSBC that I would be at Madrid Airport, I thought that if I did use it here they'd think it was fraud.

A couple of hours before my flight departure I strolled up to the Iberia desk where I assumed I could get my boarding pass. There was a Frenchman in front of me having a tantrum in English at the Iberia staff, holding up the rest of us. Eventually I managed to see someone, but he insisted that I had to get my boarding pass from the LAN desk in Terminal 4! I pointed out that on my printed out flight confirmation it said that the flight was run by Iberia for LAN (after all, my flight in May was also run by Iberia for LAN and I'd got my boarding pass from the Iberia desk at Terminal 4S), but he insisted otherwise and was quite dismissive. Feeling panicky that I wouldn't get there and back in time, I looked around for some LAN staff to talk to, but the only one I managed to ambush couldn't tell me very much, only that if there were any LAN staff at my flight's boarding gate then I could speak to them instead. There weren't any at the gate though, because it was too early, so I had to go to Terminal 4 after all. Only Terminals 1, 2, and 3 were on the signs, however, so I had to go back downstairs to the information desk and ask for directions.

I had to go through passport control and use the connecting train to Terminal 4. Once I arrived I asked at the information desk where the LAN desk was; apparently it was on the second floor. Just then I noticed an Iberia desk nearby, so on the off-chance that they could print it off for me after all and the original guy had been misinformed, I went up to it and asked - lo and behold, they could and did print my boarding pass for me! I was right all along that Iberia could print it off. Luckily the baggage checkpoints were quiet so I sailed through that (apart from getting told off for not putting my laptop in a separate tray to the laptop case) and passport control and made it back to Terminal 4S with about an hour to spare.

After all this palaver I decided that at Christmas I would fly back with an airline that wouldn't take me through Madrid... This was the third time in a row I'd had hassle there!

Posted by 3Traveller 14:17 Archived in Spain Tagged football airport layover Comments (0)

Emergency flight home

Guayaquil, Madrid and Heathrow Airport

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The reason why I flew back home is explained in the next blog post.

One or two more stressed moments at the airport in Madrid, to go with the ones I had on 15th May. At baggage x-ray the duty-free bottle of aguardiente I'd bought at Guayaquil Airport for Dave was confiscated because it had come from outside the EU; they did give me the option of going back round and signing forms in order to keep onto it, but the plane from Guayaquil had arrived late and I was in a mad rush to get to my gate in time, so I didn't have any time to spare. An airport employee rushed me and a couple of other people bound for Heathrow directly to our gate; I was very grateful because without her help I may well have missed my flight.

At Heathrow I spent 40 minutes waiting at the baggage carousel before making an enquiry about my bag. Yes, it hadn't arrived - it was still in Madrid but would be arriving later that night - but no, I wouldn't have to wait for it or come back to collect it, because British Airways would deliver it to my door the next morning. They were as good as their word!

Posted by 3Traveller 13:50 Archived in Spain Tagged airport layover Comments (0)

Layover en route to Guayaquil

Barajas Airport, Madrid

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A rather frustrating time at Barajas Airport, Madrid. On arrival from Heathrow I asked where in-transit people should go (it wasn't at all clear) and where I could get my boarding pass; I was sent upstairs for some reason, but once I got there the only option seemed to be to go through passport control, so I did. I carried on down to the train to the main Terminal 4, only to realise once it was too late to go back that I'd made a mistake (there are no escalators going back up, and no lifts for public use). I had to get the train to Terminal 4, go up the escalators and go through passport control and baggage x-ray in order to go straight back to Terminal 4S. I was asked for my boarding pass so I had to try and explain why I only had one for Heathrow-Madrid and not for Madrid-Guayaquil, but they spoke hardly any English and I didn't know any Spanish; in the end I think the passport control guy lost patience with me because he just waved me through.

Once I arrived back at Terminal 4S my troubles still weren't over, because I got sent from desk to desk before I finally managed to get someone to print off my boarding pass for me. Thankfully, despite all this palaver I still managed to get on the plane on time!

Posted by 3Traveller 13:56 Archived in Spain Tagged airport spain madrid layover Comments (0)

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