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What happens when a flight is delayed by a typhoon for a day?

What happens when a flight is delayed by a typhoon for a day?

Old Oct 30, 19, 2:08 am
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What happens when a flight is delayed by a typhoon for a day?

As per the subject, the answer is below. It's a trip report with a difference!

I'd booked (a year in advance) a flight to Tokyo on the 12th October, right in the middle of Rugby World Cup. I've no interest in rugby, though, it was to celebrate my 40th. I was travelling with my friend and, to avoid staying at Heathrow the night before, arranged to pick him up, take him to my house then get a taxi to the airport from there. It's around 90 minutes away if the roads are clear - which they were, at half six on a Saturday morning.

Although Japan Airlines was delaying flights, BA seemed unaffected. We checked in as usual, our cases were sent off and - as we were in First - we went to the Concorde room. We were, of course, both nervous that the flight might be delayed. I'd mentally prepared for a 4-6 hour delay, as Typhoon Hagibis would have moved away from Tokyo by the time we were due to land. Trains were due to start running again 5 hours after the landing time and I'd assumed it'd be similar timings for planes.

We ordered one of those espresso martinis each and - just as they arrived - I checked the BA app, which showed the flight had now been delayed until Sunday morning, just before 10 AM. A check of the flight information boards confirmed it.

There's a customer service desk in the CCR, so after gulping the martini down we headed over. The lady was most surprised when I said the flight had been delayed by a day... much tapping ensued, then with an expression of surprise we were told to go to gate 10 to be escorted landside, then go to check in zone F. Our cases were meant to come out on carousel 7 (as I asked for them back - the default, apparently, was keeping them airside to be loaded on the next day).

So, stupidly, we left and went to gate 10. (In retrospect, even though we were now not going anywhere, we should have had a breakfast before leaving. Didn't think of it at the time!)

It turns out going back landside is a faff. The official way is to wait for an escort from airport staff, which happens once an hour. I asked if we could bypass that by going to the C gates and remaining on the train, but that was strongly discouraged. As it was 10 past, the agent there took pity on us and instead, after radioing, took us to an empty gate. He used his card and bam, we were through a door and back landside. Of course, we then had to go through passport control to get to the baggage area... I was half expecting some trouble, as we'd "landed" but not gone anywhere, but nothing was flagged up and we went through.

Baggage reclaim was next and there were no sign of our bags. 20 minutes later I went to one of the help desks and, after tapping away, was asked if I wanted the bags back. Yes please! A phone call was made and then we were told to wait by carousel 8. By now a queue had formed with others on the flight, all asking for the same thing.

Another 40 minutes later and one of the guys from the queue came over... the bags were now due from carousel 7. Just as well he told us, otherwise it'd have been a long wait! It turns out they'd put a popup sign up by carousel 7 and, shortly after, the bags came out.

We went through customs (nothing to declare, of course, although it did make me wonder... if we'd brought the Japan allowance of duty free (which is 2.2 litres of spirits), would we have had to declare it as it exceeded the UK limits? Luckily that didn't apply, as we hadn't bought anything).

Zone F was next and the chap policing the tensa barriers tried to shoo us away. "We're on the Tokyo flight, though"... at which point he let us through. The lady asked if we'd had our letters (erm, no), then went off and came back with an handful of A4 printouts of "light refreshment" vouchers... £20 for me, £25 for my friend. Hotel vouchers for the Sofitel were issued (one each), then we were free to leave.

The whole process, from check in to settling into the room in the Sofitel, took around 3 hours.

Incidentally the Sofitel had a list of "paid for" upgrades for the free vouchers, which topped out at a junior suite for £120. As it was my 40th on Sunday, I went for it. It turned out to be a slightly larger room with a sofabed set up. There were other categories available for less, but I wanted a largish room as my plan was to play Overwatch, Diablo 3 and Doom with my buddy to while away the time.

As we'd checked in to the hotel just before 11:30, it would have cost BA a bit. There was a free lunch offered, a buffet dinner and breakfast, although we instead used our vouchers to buy sandwiches and snacks in the terminal. It surprised me that absolutely no checks were made regarding the vouchers, they were accepted in WHSmith without question.

After an early night, we then went back the following morning (at 6:40), skipped breakfast and checked in. From then on it was uneventful, although I was glad I'd prepaid for the Tokyo hotel. If it'd been a flexible booking, it would apparently have counted as a no-show and they'd have resold the rooms.

The holiday was wonderful, but it'll always be remembered by me for Typhoon Hagibis!

Last edited by Retron; Oct 30, 19 at 2:18 am
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Old Oct 30, 19, 2:27 am
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OK, what you did wrong on the cancellation was to queue up and listen to advice. Nothing wrong with that, I'd have done the same two years ago before being sucked into the Flyertalk craziness.

The train to C Gates and in via immigration is a well worn path. They discourage you from doing it, but it's still the thing to for a cancellation (but not if you want to reenter the terminal the same day, it can be very difficult getting back in). Then don't queue for hotel vouchers, get on your phone immediately the cancellation is done, and book yourself into the Sofitel, ideally using the avios.com hotels section in "my avios" (15 avios per £). Then out via C gates train, check in before the hordes arrive, keep receipts up to around £200 for hotel and food (not alcohol), and send them in at your leisure for a refund.

I would probably have left my bag loaded by the way, the Sofitel can provide most necessary amenities that I don't carry in my hand luggage.
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Old Oct 30, 19, 2:32 am
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Indeed. Self care is the best option. At outstations it can also mean getting a decent hotel (W NYC) rather than a a crappy chain on Long Island.
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Old Oct 30, 19, 4:51 am
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Originally Posted by Retron View Post
We went through customs (nothing to declare, of course, although it did make me wonder... if we'd brought the Japan allowance of duty free (which is 2.2 litres of spirits), would we have had to declare it as it exceeded the UK limits? Luckily that didn't apply, as we hadn't bought anything).
Purchases are supposed to returned to the retailer as the condition of sale is that an entitled passenger (travelling to a non-EU destination) exports the goods. As the flight was delayed overnight, this would not be possible and you would leave the airport without doing so.

That's what the law says. As to how it works in practice? it's an administrative hassle and I doubt that it's particularly well enforced.
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Old Oct 30, 19, 6:19 am
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Better than being stuck in Japan because of a typhoon on a non-EU carrier.
I once incurred over £400 in hotel expenses (that's for one night) because everything was full. No reimbursement except for a partial one from the insurance, due to the number of hours for which I was stuck (under 18 hours).
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Old Oct 30, 19, 6:45 am
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Originally Posted by LTN Phobia View Post
Better than being stuck in Japan because of a typhoon on a non-EU carrier.
I once incurred over £400 in hotel expenses (that's for one night) because everything was full. No reimbursement except for a partial one from the insurance, due to the number of hours for which I was stuck (under 18 hours).
Transport disruption was so bad at Narita last week that I didn’t even get to book a hotel! Reached Tokyo Station around 2am (well past normal closing time) and with an 8am departure from Haneda I opted for an Uber and a couple of hours in coffee shop before I could access lounge.

Think BA made the right call, having endured well over 4 hours of queuing in Narita and then 2 hours on train they’d have been dropping passengers into something nasty...
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Old Oct 30, 19, 8:46 am
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"Then don't queue for hotel vouchers, get on your phone immediately the cancellation is done, and book yourself into the Sofitel, ideally using the avios.com hotels section in "my avios" (15 avios per £.."

I am curious : in an event like this does BA not just pre book all spare rooms at the Sofitel meaning that it less likely to find a room on your own ?
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Old Oct 30, 19, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by 47Aitken View Post
"Then don't queue for hotel vouchers, get on your phone immediately the cancellation is done, and book yourself into the Sofitel, ideally using the avios.com hotels section in "my avios" (15 avios per £.."

I am curious : in an event like this does BA not just pre book all spare rooms at the Sofitel meaning that it less likely to find a room on your own ?
IME The Sofitel tends to be used for F/J passengers with the remaining passengers being bussed round to one of the other hotels on the perimeter road. Suffice to say I found myself at the back of a very long check-in queue at the Radisson once because I followed instructions. In retrospect I should have checked out the Sofitel availability and put in my own claim but hindsight is a wonderful thing and I wasn't aware this was even an option until some years later when checking out this forum one day.
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Old Oct 30, 19, 9:36 am
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The pity is still forcing passengers to wait for vouchers in this day and age.

No reason that these cannot be pushed to the App or preloaded so that any passenger may enter the appropriate information and have them issued from a kiosk.

AA handles it either way as well as by setting it up such that any staff with access to a keyboard and a printer can do the printing.
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Old Oct 30, 19, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
No reason that these cannot be pushed to the App or preloaded so that any passenger may enter the appropriate information and have them issued from a kiosk.

AA handles it either way as well as by setting it up such that any staff with access to a keyboard and a printer can do the printing.
I think this is how KLM do it too. In case of IRROPS, you have to go to a kiosk where you get your new BP and hotel and taxi vouchers. The downside is you won't be able to speak to a human without kicking up a minor fuss.
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Old Oct 31, 19, 10:00 am
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We had this happen in China so you can imagine the lack of communication. Luckily we were able to return to the hotel we had stayed in, but next day more confusion as they boarded us in rain the removed us. Finally with no food and angry passengers they brought some food then quickly told us we had to board now quickly as there was a small window to get into Hong Kong. What a crazy two days.
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