TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
THE FLIGHTS: BEST LAID PLANS....
Bina and I travelled down to Heathrow on the evening of the 12th and stayed in the Best Western Park Grand London Heathrow Hotel, close to the airport. We ate in the restaurant and rose early (04:00) for myBritish Airways flight which was scheduled to depart at 07:25 for Amsterdam. At 04:25 I received a text informing me the flight had been cancelled* and I should call a particular number (which it transpired did not open until 06:00) to arrange a full refund or to re-book for another date. Clearly with connecting flights to Kuala Lumpur, where I was due to meet up with the rest of the Timor project group, and around a dozen tightly scheduled flights to follow, neither was an option so we went to the airport to find out what could be done. At Terminal 5 BA transferred me to a KLM flight which would arrive in Amsterdam one hour before my KL flight was due to depart. I was told KLM would check my bags straight through but we would have to go to Terminal 4 for the checkin.
At Terminal 4 the flight was no problem, according to KLM, but my bags could not be checked all the way, I would have to go through Immigration and Customs at Amsterdam Schipol and then recheck for the Malaysia Airlines flight to KL, all in the space of one hour. This was not possible, so leaving Bina with the bags I went back to BA in Terminal 5, two train journeys on the Heathrow Express and about a 15-20 minute journey, to find out what could be done. Back at Terminal 5, BA booked me instead onto a direct Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur, so with ticket in hand it was back to Terminal 4, two more rides on the Heathrow Express, to check in at last for a flight that actually existed and was a feasible option. Actually it was a better option than my original flights since I now had a direct flight to KL and could sleep the whole way if I wished.
|A photo with Bina before I went through Security to catch my re-scheduled flight.
Eventually, check-in bags disposed of, I bade farewell to Bina and I was on my way to meet up with the rest of the team, my colleague Hinrich Kaiser and two students each from Victor Valley College, California, and James Madison University, Virginia, and doctoral student Sven Mecke with two students from Marburg University, Germany.
I would arrive one hour later than previously envisaged but this did not concern me, I sent Hinrich a text to inform him of the delay and prepared to enjoy a 12.5 hour flight in Business Class, purchased largely with the Avios point accumulated over many years of frequent flyer travel.
* The flight cancellation was a knock-on effect of a two day French air-traffic controller strike which was just ending.
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