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flying without baby

Sorry, your flight left over an hour ago…

It won’t come as any surprise to hear that I have missed a connecting flight or two (as well as my near misses, including a memorable sprint across Bangkok airport). Thankfully all of those occasions were in the days before I had children.I was a young, fairly naive traveller the first time it happened. I was returning to Australia after a year living in Sweden in between high school and university. Instead of returning directly to Sydney I was going to visit a friend and her family in Cairns. This meant that my flights were a little more complicated than usual. First I had to fly from Stockholm to Heathrow on SAS. There I would change to Qantas’ QF1 to Bangkok and in Bangkok I would swap to a smaller aircraft and fly to Cairns via Singapore and Darwin - all up a 27 hour trip.

I said goodbye to my parents and boarded the plane in Stockholm and the we took off. Just as we were about to fly out over the North Sea the captain came on to the PA and made an announcement in Swedish. I didn’t take any notice until I heard the word “Köpenhamn” which is Swedish for Copenhagen. Next came an announcement in English that stated that due to “technical difficulties” we were being diverted to Copenhagen. So the plane banked to the left and took a new route down to Denmark. Once we landed we were herded off the plane and rushed across the terminal to a British Airways flight bound for the UK.

By the time we arrived in Heathrow I had missed my connecting flight with Qantas by over an hour and the Qantas transfer desk was deserted. The staff at the British Airways crew and ground staff claimed that I was not their responsibility and couldn’t tell me where my bags might now be (having been marked through to Cairns) and our original crew were nowhere to be seen. Finally I found a lone official at an SAS counter and told them of my plight. To their credit they immediately arranged for me to stay in an airport hotel and gave me a dinner voucher - which was just as well as I had limited funds and no credit card. They also put me on the Qantas flight for the following day.

My bags, however, were lost in transit so I was sent off with just my cabin luggage. I had thoughtfully packed plenty of reading material but no spare clothing or underwear and no toiletries. This was a lesson learned and since that trip I always travel with at least one extra shirt and clean underwear plus a basic supply of toiletries in my cabin bag.

A middle of the night reverse charges call to my friend’s parents alerted them to my plight - thus saving them a two hour return trip to the airport at midnight - and after a lonely night in a Heathrow hotel I was on my way the next morning. Luckily I was reunited with my bags upon arrival in Cairns.


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