Travel Diversions – by sea, by train, by air

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

I’ve certainly had some travel delays and diversions this year, by sea, by rail and by air, troubles have popped up for every means of travel.

A trans-Pacific cruise (yes, me on a cruise ship!) from Yokohama in Japan to Seattle in the USA got delayed and diverted, thumbs down to Holland-America Line.

Then I had a seriously delayed train trip in France to Monaco due to an ‘accident de personne.’ Presumably somebody colliding with a train.

As I was walking the Thames Path for three days from the source of the river down to Oxford Maureen was miraculously avoiding air travel chaos flying to Belfast. Her London-Belfast flight with British Airways was completely cancelled, but fortunately she didn’t take up an offer of a replacement flight the next day. The next day – Monday 28 August – saw a total air traffic control meltdown in the UK – fortunately she’d swapped the BA flight for an easyJet one. And coming back to London, despite reports of continuing delays and cancellations she returned trouble free.

On Thursday 14 September, however, we did fly into some air traffic control chaos. This time it wasn’t a tech problem or a strike, it was simply a Gatwick air traffic controller falling ill and no replacement being available. As a result flights into Gatwick were being cancelled and our British Airways flight from Dalman in Turkey flew into the chaos. Here’s the final track of our flight on FlightRadar24.

First we go into a holding pattern over the English Channel. Then the captain announces we cannot get a landing slot at Gatwick so we’re being diverted to Bournemouth and start flying in due west in that direction. A few minutes later the captain announces that so many flights have diverted to Bournemouth the airport is overcrowded and we’re diverting to Stanstead, so we turn north.

Nobody wants to go to Stansted, particularly if their car is in the car park at Gatwick. We do a few more circuits and then come in to land at … Gatwick. Well that was a surprise, clearly not to the captain, but also not to a few naughty passengers who had turned their phones on and worked out where we were going. And we were only an hour and a half late, many flights were delayed for far longer or even cancelled.