Monday, October 17, 2011

An (almost) uneventful journey home

I finally got to have a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich, purchased for only £1 from Boots at Terminal 4. It was quite enjoyable. Getting to Terminal 4 was another story. Read on.

My original plan was to save money and take the tube to Heathrow on Sunday, but I realized that planned engineering works on half the tube lines would make that next to impossible. So, I took the #36 bus to Paddington Station and planned to catch the 10:13 a.m. Heathrow Connect (the same train I rode in from Heathrow on). At the station, I went to the area where I'd emerged from platform 10 or 11 on my arrival day, and saw a bunch of temporary barricades in front of the turnstiles there. So, I looked around for a Heathrow Connect ticket office and didn't see one, but did spy the Heathrow Express ticket office. At the window, I asked the ticket agent where I needed to go for the Heathrow Connect, and she told me that it wasn't running due to planned engineering works. Bugger! I then had to pay £18 for a ticket on the (faster) Express rather than the £8.50 that the (slower) Connect would have cost me. But the Express trains run more often and I hopped on the 9:40, which got me to Terminals 1-3 in about 20 minutes. As the train pulled into the platform at Heathrow, we heard an announcement saying, "Passengers for Terminal 4 should exit the train, cross the platform and immediately board the train at platform 2." So I did, following two people who had gotten off my train. Another woman got on behind me, just as the doors shut in her husband's face and the train pulled away, leaving him and their luggage on the platform.

A member of staff was in the carriage near where those of us who got on last were standing, and the woman (an American) started asking him what she should do, as her husband had their tickets. He said that her husband could just catch the next train and they could meet at the end. He phoned someone to alert them to the situation. It then dawned on me that this woman was headed into town, so I asked if the train would be stopping at Terminal 4. No, it wouldn't. We were headed back to Paddington. The two men (also Americans) who had gotten on with me then piped up and said that they needed to go to Terminal 4 as well. The member of staff assured us that we could just get off the train at Paddington, wait a few minutes while they joined some other carriages to our train, and then get back on and go back to Heathrow. About this time the conductor came along, a very nice man who told us that people get confused and make this mistake all the time, especially on Sunday as that is the ONLY DAY that trains going back to Paddington share platform 2 with the trains for Terminal 4.

Back at Paddington, we waited for about 5 minutes before the train left again at 10:25 a.m.. When we got to Heathrow, there was no train yet on platform 2. While I was waiting, I looked up and saw the departure boards above my head, showing the alternating trains. A train pulled in and a different member of staff clearly announced that it was the train for Terminal 4, which got us there in no time. I looked at my watch as I finished checking my bag -- 11:05 a.m., which was probably exactly the time I'd be doing this if I'd been able to catch the Heathrow Connect in the first place.

Everything else about the journey went smoothly, although slowly. The plane to Boston was coming in from Paris, and was delayed due to fog in London. Although we boarded and took off about 1/2 hour late, we landed in Boston pretty much on time. The queues at immigration moved quickly, my bag was one of the first to arrive on the carousel, and going through customs was a breeze, with only a sweater and a book to declare. I had to wait well over 1/2 hour for the Logan Express bus to Framingham, where my car was parked, but our jovial driver Dave got us there in no time flat. I left the Massport lot at about 6:30 and walked in my front door at 8 pm -- exactly 16 hours after leaving Spooner's -- where I was met by much meowing from Sadie.

Note to self: Don't travel into or out of London on a Sunday ever again. And don't blindly follow groups of Americans anywhere. And, as John Betjeman said, always look up.

£18 for Heathrow Express
£1 for tuna & sweetcorn sandwich
£1.05 for bottle of water
$110 to park the car in Framingham
$250 for Sadie's critter sitter

5,958 steps (mostly in Heathrow)
2.29 miles on foot


  1. "Planned engineering works" doesn't you know!

    I apologise on behalf of Mayor Boris and all of the TFL gnomes that work for him (that should really be the gnomes that work for us, but that would be stretching the imagination just a little too far). Anyway, I'm glad you didn't miss your plane.

    It was nice to see you again, I'm sure we'll meet up again next year.

  2. "people get confused"? I'm still confused. But I think it's their "mistake" rather than that of the passengers. I didn't realize the transportation snafu was en route to your homeward flight. How anxiety-inducing! Good thing you had plenty of time. Welcome home.

  3. Hi, I came to know your blog, loved, congratulations on your corner and lots of success here!
    I'm following your blog now!

    I invite you to meet my Blog and if you like and can also follow my will be very welcome, feel at home!

    Oh, there's a translator at the end of my page blog, I hope to see you there! :)