Days 1 & 2: Saturday 28th / Sunday 29th 2019
1:05pm – Heathrow Departures
I decided to get the National Express to Heathrow which turned out to be a really good idea. I didn’t fancy lugging my two rucksacks (1 x 18kg 1 x 6kg) across London on the Tube. The coach trip is 6 hours but I was dropped outside Terminal 4 and was able to get a trolley straight away. In fact, on the whole journey the only time I ever had to carry my big rucksack was at Pond Street!
I met the rest of the group at check-in at 6.30pm. There are 12 of us: 3 women and 9 men. They are: Jess, Jasmine, Ben, Graeme, Ben, Dave, Kenny, Chi Lee (Chilli), Alan, Andy, Lee (Leader from Global Adventure Challenges), Spencer and me. Spencer and I are doing the trek for Paces; other charities include: Bloodwise, Guts charity, Rocking Horse, Mind, Sands and Young Dementia.
We had a little drink and some nibbles then got on the plane. Having never flown Qatar Airways I was super-impressed. There were loads of films on the in-flight entertainment and we were given a little flight pack with earplugs, socks etc. It was all going swimmingly UNTIL we taxied on to the runway and then the engine kept stopping and starting. I was actually hailed on by ice from the air conditioning – not a good sign. After about 2 hours and noting a few maintenance men looking busy in hi vis vests, the captain said that they were having some issues with the “reset” (cntl-alt-del – I thought planes were more complex than that!). He also said there was an issue with the “paperwork”. About an hour later he came back on saying that the issues were resolved and they were in “negotiations” with the airport. It was 12:30am and planes aren’t allowed to fly at that time. They also turned off the passenger entertainment so I only got see half the film (it was not available on any of the other 4 flights!). We later realised that the entertainment system had 3 CCTV cameras outside the aircraft and they probably didn’t want us to see what was going on!
To compound matters someone in first class had a “medical emergency”. At about 1:30am we were told that we would be “towed” back to the gate. Not a good sign – the problem was probably never fixed – something to do with the hydraulic brakes. The ambulance came and we eventually got off the plane and were each given a £20 voucher to spend on “light refreshments”. We subsequently found out that economy class passengers should actually have only had £10. One of our group even managed to get £30 – someone from Qatar Airways will be in bother!
It was 2am, there was a massive queue at Costa and we were all buying food and drink to the value of £20. It was a bit mad but quite amusing. We were then directed to the Holiday Inn Express and were immediately allocated rooms which were very nice. Unfortunately there was not much sleep to be had after an interesting day.
We are booked on the 4pm flight to Doha, there is then a 6 hour wait for the connecting flight to Kilimanjaro. Spencer, Lee and I went down to the Qatar Airways desk and asked for either a hotel or executive lounge accommodation in Doha. Spencer can be quite persuasive so we’ll see what he comes up with. The staff at Qatar Airways have been extremely helpful. They were full of apologies and did everything to make us as comfortable as possible. They looked pretty tired and stressed under their immaculate make-up and coiffed hair.
Let’s hope today’s flight gets us somewhere. I’m so tired I’m either going to collapse from exhaustion on the first day or make it to the top in some kind of delirium!
It is not to late to make a donation and congratulate Lucy for her incredible achievement. Should you wish, you can make a donation here