Flying Vancouver to London - Southwest England in April - CycleBlaze

May 2, 2014

Flying Vancouver to London

We were downstairs for our last “full English” when the breakfast room opened at 7:00 and were ready for the taxi to pick us up at 8:00. The driver helped load our duffels and folded bikes into the van, and we took off through the morning rush hour traffic. It was a hair raising ride: the driver was obviously trying to keep himself awake by waving his arms around and the taxi missed various pedestrians and cyclists by a whisker. He told us that his four month old baby had been up for most of the night—not terribly reassuring. Because of traffic and roadwork, it took an hour and a half to reach Gatwick airport. We breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived safely and were glad we had allowed plenty of time.

We checked in at the Air Transat counter, and then the comedy of dealing with the bikes began. We were told to take them upstairs to the oversize luggage department, which seemed to be run by a private contractor, a separate entity from Air Transat. We were given the large plastic bags into which we rolled the bikes. However they had no tape to seal the ends of the bags, so Eva trekked downstairs to the check-in counter to retrieve a tape dispenser, and was told in no uncertain terms to bring it back down when we were finished. After the bike bags were secured, it was time to put them through security. The security attendant looked incredibly sleepy and complained that the bike wouldn't fit through the machine and could we put the handlebars down. This wouldn't work with the Bike Fridays, and we asked if they could use a hand held scanner instead. The attendant replied that he would have to put the bikes on a trolley and take them to another room, which would be a lot of trouble. In the end, after much discussion, he wheeled them about 30 metres to the other room where they were scanned and finally disappeared on a belt. All of this took about 45 minutes, and we were surprised that Air Transat's procedure for dealing with bikes was not more streamlined, especially at such a major airport.

Now we were free to rush to the boarding lounge where we discovered that our plane's departure was delayed for an hour, giving us a chance to catch our breath and have a cup of coffee. When we finally boarded, it seemed that almost every seat was taken—quite different from our uncrowded flight to London a month earlier. We arrived in Vancouver about nine hours later, collected our car, and drove to the downtown apartment we had booked for three days. This would give us time to rest and get over jet lag before driving across the province to our home in the Kootenays.

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