Archive for September, 2009

I am in Abu Dhabi though it took longer than expected …

Posted in abu dhabi, Arrival, British Airways, Heathrow Airport with tags , , , on September 28, 2009 by Amanda

Niagara Airbus showed up a bit earlier than expected. I kind of wonder why they give you time they do, as they are always early. I ended up having a car to myself. Apparently this was because after I was dropped off they were picking up someone at the airport and taking them to Amherst, NY. Needless to say, I was at the airport very early despite there being a fair amount of traffic. So I was too bothered by the “Fast Baggage Drop” being the opposite of fast.

When I dropped off my bags, I was informed that my flight had been delayed forty minutes. This worried me because my connection time at Heathrow wasn’t all that long to begin with. The woman from British Airways told me that there was a strong tailwind and we should arrive at Heathrow on time anyway and thus, I would definitely make my connection. In retrospect, I think I should have tried to get her to put me on the earlier flight to Heathrow which I could have definitely made: it boarded from the gate beside mine and didn’t do so until I was already at my gate.

My flight ended up being more delayed than expected. We were about an hour late taking off. First, boarding was delayed because the plane wasn’t clean. Then it took a long time to put the zillion people in wheelchairs on the plane. It literally took about five minutes to get this one old woman to show them her passport and boarding pass. She didn’t seem to speak English or be very coherent (they were pointing at another woman’s passport to get her to show her’s and she still seemed confused). I really wonder why anyone would let her travel by herself. We did make up some time during the flight but then ended up circling Heathrow for a while. Therefore we landed close to an hour late. A flight attendant told the couple sitting next to me who had to make a connection at a different terminal that they would almost certainly make their connection and their gate closed only ten minutes after mine, so I figured I should be okay.

I was seated right at the front of the economy section and I practically ran to the pre-security checkpoint and I arrived there ten minutes before my gate was to close and thirty minutes my flight was to leave. However, I was told I was told I was too late. I am sure that if they would have put me to the front of the security line I could have made my flight but there was no convincing them of the that; I talked to about four different people, one of whom told me that I’d have to wait to the next day to go to Abu Dhabi because British Airways only goes there once a day.

A customer services agent ended up booking me on an Etihad flight that left five hours later and she gave me a ten pound food voucher. She said she would have people in Abu Dhabi call the contact numbers I had and inform them of my later arrival.

What the 10 pound voucher bought

What the 10 pound voucher bought

I then went over to terminal 3 and went through security. As I now had lots of extra time, it didn’t matter, but I could not believe how slow security was. It would seem that they really don’t care there if people make their flights or not! Anyway, I have decided that unless I have absolutely no other choice (which I think would be pretty unlikely!) I will never take flights connecting at Heathrow again! This airport made Milan seem okay, which is definitely saying something! I mean Heathrow is definitely okay in terms of food and shopping and there are enough seats but that definitely doesn’t come close to making up for the utter inefficiency of the place!

The Etihad flight was undoubtedly better than the British Airways flight would have been. The plane was very new and they provide water before takeoff, real silver, Haagen-Dazs ice cream etc. However, I still would have preferred to have been on my original flight and gotten into Abu Dhabi in the evening rather than in the middle of the night.

So, there was no one there to meet me on arrival. This wouldn’t have been such a problem had the company that was supposed to meet not had my visa. I asked several people working at the airport but none of them seem to know what to do and told me conflicting things. Needless to say this was really stressful especially because I was so tired by then. Finally the Customer Services Manager of the airport came to help me. I’m assuming one of the seemingly useless men told him to come to me. Anyway, he was unbelievably helpful. He contacted the company that was supposed to have met me and got someone to bring over the visa and he also contacted the hotel and arranged for them to send a driver. He even called me at the hotel as soon as I arrived to make sure I was there okay. I really don’t know what I would have done without him.

When I arrived at the hotel I found out I had been upgraded to a suite. Luckily, it is non-smoking as I was so tired last night I didn’t even think to ask about that.

I was given some cash and a cheque for my relocation allowance this morning. The human resources officer then took me on a short tour of Abu Dhabi. Not surprisingly, she never received any phone calls from British Airways. I think the driving here isn’t so bad but the parking looks to be an absolute nightmare. I won’t be living in the centre of the city like the hotel is, so hopefully parking in my area will be much more manageable. I will see my apartment tomorrow and then go shopping for furniture.

I am feeling so much better today, though I think I will be napping soon as I am still missing a fair amount of sleep.

I’m Leaving for Abu Dhabi Tomorrow!

Posted in Pre-departure with tags on September 25, 2009 by Amanda

Less than twenty-four hours from now I’ll be on my way to Abu Dhabi. I’m flying on British Airways from Toronto to London to Abu Dhabi. I just checked in online and managed to get emergency exit rows seats for both flights! When I printed off the boarding passes, I noticed there was no note about my meal selection. This worried me a bit because other airlines have always had some sort of note about having a special meal of their boarding passes. So, I called the airline and they assured me that they did have my meal selection noted. I guess I was being a bit paronoid but I really didn’t want to miss out on eating on two seven hour flights!

Although my apartment is now empty and the stuff I am bringing with me is basically all packed, it is still a little difficult to believe that I am actually leaving tomorrow even though I am leaving considerably later than I had originally was scheduled to leave.

At least I now know when I’ll be leaving …

Posted in Pre-departure, Vacation with tags , on September 14, 2009 by Amanda

I found out this morning that housing has been found for me. However, I won’t be leaving until the 26th because the college is closed from the 18th to the 26th for the holidays at the end of Ramadan. While I obviously would have liked to have left earlier, I feel so much better now that I know when I’ll be leaving. Plus, I’ll be able to eat and drink in public when I finally do arrive in Abu Dhabi!

As I obviously have way too much time on my hands, I think I’ll take a short vacation soon. I am trying to figure out where I’ll go. I think I’ll make a decision on what seems to be relatively cheap. I am used to having a lot of time to plan vacations, so the thought of doing this last minute feels very foreign to me.

Update: I have decided to go to Las Vegas (and on a day tour of the Grand Canyon). I’ll leave Thursday morning and be back on Tuesday morning.

Still Waiting

Posted in Pre-departure, Waiting with tags , on September 9, 2009 by Amanda

I still don’t know when I’ll be leaving but it clearly won’t be before next week. Rationally I know that it is not that far past my original intended departure date. Yet, I am becoming more and more impatient. The time is passing unbelievably slowly. I am so sick of waiting!

Delayed!

Posted in Pre-departure with tags on September 3, 2009 by Amanda

So, my departure from Canada has been delayed. I’m not really too surprised. September 7 was seeming awfully soon to leave considering the flight hadn’t yet been booked. My visa has just come in but they haven’t found housing for me yet. So, it looks like I’ll be here a week longer or so. I’m not too sure how I’ll keep myself occupied, as my concentration for reading right now is quite limited. I think I’ll feel better when I actually know when I’ll be leaving for sure. I’m glad that I haven’t completely packed yet and that I put off cancelling some things.