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Traveller’s woes (The ash tales)


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At 02:30hrs on Thursday morning we began our trip back to Saudi. This was to be achieved by a car drive from Lytham, our home, to catch the 12:30hrs Saudia flight to Riyadh from Heathrow. On the journey down we heard radio reports that Aberdeen airport was closed but this did not raise our concerns!

We arrived at Heathrow at 07:00hrs to return the hire car and waited in terminal 3 until the Saudia check in desk opened at 09:00hrs. After successful check in we proceeded to the Virgin Lounge (surprisingly used by Saudia also) and proceeded to have what we thought would be our last pork breakfast for some time. At check-in the staff had told us the flight was going to depart early as there was a possibility the dust might affect flights so we proceeded to the gate, along with other business class passengers, after the announcement in the lounge advised us to do.

Our concern was raised when we arrived at the gate and it was deserted! There were about 5 groups of passengers, about 20 in total with puzzled looks on their faces.

It transpired that our flight had been cancelled but that they had neglected to inform B class passengers in the lounge.

Anyway we collected our bags and were booted out of the airport along with everyone else. The time as now about 12:00hrs and there was no indication of when the flight would be re-instated. My wife & I debated what to do so, get a hotel or hire a car and drive back home. After looking at the queue for hotels I used my new Iphone (this has been indispensable in the last couple of days) to call Hertz to arrange a hire car. We hit the road back to Lytham at about 14:00hrs just under twelve hours after setting off.

We arrived home about 19:00hrs and were all absolutely knackered! Saudia information advised us that the flight would be at 17:00 on the Friday so I though a good nights sleep and head back to Heathrow the next day. I was just dosing off when at 21:00hrs I receive a call from Saudia stating the flight would be at 11:00hrs on the Friday morning so still completely knackered we loaded the car again and set of at 03:00hrs on Friday morning confident we would get some sleep on the plane.

At about 06:00hrs, about an hour from Heathrow on the M40, we received a call from Saudia stating the flight had been cancelled and they could give no information on when it would be re-scheduled! This was a sucker punch as once again we were in a dilemma. Do we drive back home, another 3 hours drive, or find somewhere to stay? I was that tired the decision was easy! I asked the Sat-Nav to find the closest accommodation and within 5 minutes we were at a Holiday Inn express (this was excellent value at £64 for three of us for a night. The staffs were also excellent and understanding of our plight giving us a room immediately). We spend most of Friday sleeping and hoping the information would become clearer on Sat Morning. We were close to the airport if the flight was re-scheduled at short notice. However the information Sat morning was further cancellations so rather than wait in a hotel room we extended the car hire and drove back home where we await further info with no clue as to when we are likely to travel!

I'm sure there are many thousands of us with similar stories.


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Pleased to hear you are back. I have been given a flight date of the 17th May for a confirmed flight! However, we are wait listed for a flight either Fri, Sat or Sun if they can confirm us on one of them. It is costing me a fortune to keep a hire car at the ready to travel back to London!


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