Su creates havoc by travelling to New Jersey – another adventurous day in my past (A.K.A the shittiest day to travel to New Jersey with Continental Airlines)
I was travelling to Newark from Gatwick on 11th August 2006 and I rose VERY early to get to Gatwick from the Isle of Wight. Not being someone who listens to or reads the news often I was oblivious to anything special happening today (except me flying off to visit a friend and enjoy some American hospitality)
So I was pretty amazed when, on arrival at Gatwick Terminal there were hordes of people all pressing together and I panicked slightly as I was running JUST on time and HAD to get to my check in desk through them all by 10am as the plane was due to depart at 1200 and no delays were displayed on the board. It was also unusual to note that many security people had guns but nothing really surprises me anymore so moving forward I eventually reached the check in area for my Air Continental flight
I then had to go through a VERY strict process for check in which entailed me having to take ALL of my hand luggage and put it into my main hold baggage (with the exception only of some money, my passport and the ticket – not even a book to read was allowed today!!!!) What is going on I asked myself and several others (who were unable to tell me more than a security scare perhaps?)
Being a cynic, I thought it was possibly a ploy to get us to spend more money in the duty-free area of the airport as we could get anything there (EXCEPT perfumes or alcohol!?!)– so I grabbed a book to read on the flight. However, after all this we were allowed onto the plane at 1230 (UK time) and I thought – OK this is great we are only slightly late for take-off now so let’s get on with it folks.
NO CHANCE! For the following FOUR hours – yes FOUR hours we sat on the tarmac with no word of explanation as to what was happening except the occasional apology for the delay! I was feeling so sad for the family with a young baby who had been crying for ages ( 4 hours sitting with an infant in these cramped conditions could not have been fn for them.
Finally at 4pm (UK time) we took off.
Heh ho – off we go thought I, as we flew across the Atlantic and we landed eventually. Unfortunately though this was during an electrical storm so we had to then wait on the runway for a further 45mins as we queued with other planes for our landing ramp. Disembarking we then went to the VERY BUSY luggage hall where we then waited a further 1 hour for the baggage!!!
Fortunately the driver sent to collect me was there as scheduled and drove me to my friend’s house so I finally arrived there at 1130pm (Easter Seaboard time) feeling so tired that I was wide awake again – you know that feeling? It was then that I discovered the reason for the delay was a liquid-based bomb alert scare. The alert was for a flight to Newark with Continental Airlines (lucky me eh?)
So I drank a couple of coffees to keep me going a little longer before I headed to my luggage to get a shower before bed. But this was NOT the end of things – oh no – it was instead SHOCK horror, quelle surprise!
My well packed luggage was still intact in every way and relatively undisturbed but EVERY single item of liquid – cleansers, bath gear, shampoos, hair products, deodorant, vitamin pills, lipsticks and mascara, and all related items had been taken by the airline. Some expensive items in there too – amounting to around £300 worth of product!
Now personally I call that stealing as I was never informed of this being done at all and the rest of the bag was still neatly packed! Hence, I believe now the real reason we sat on tarmac at Gatwick for 4 hours – those Americans were NOT going to let us take anything with us that may destroy their planes , country or reputation.
Do you think they actually destroyed all those products or even tested them? (which they should have done if they suspected foul play?) OR did most of them end in other peoples pockets? – though officially they will be saying it was destroyed I am sure.
So next day I went off to the chemist to buy small travel and sample products of deodorant, etc so that when I travelled out of the USA there would be no big issues and I wouldn’t have any more theft!
Funnily enough though – there were no delays and hardly any security checking on the way back and we left and landed on time – obviously if you are going out of the USA with a bomb they don’t care – only when they think you will bring one in do they get paranoid.
Several months after the event I finally got a $600 compensation but this was a strenuous procedure and I had to fight for it threatening to write to the newspapers, etc – No report was ever made of this theft either to my knowledge!
NB: This all happened on 11th August 2006 –the day the world decided to restrict liquids in your hand luggage and almost 5 years after some people simply got in a plane and flew them into the Twin Towers.
I look forward to reading any contentious and outraged comments on this post