I’m waiting at the bus stop to head to the airport. I had been warned that traffic to London’s Stansted airport can be rough. So I book a bus that gives myself 40min of leeway for traffic. It’s 2pm. The bus should be here. Where is said bus?
The bus arrives. 10min late. No stress, I think to myself, I still have time. I have my boarding pass already and I don’t need to check any luggage in. It will be a breeze.
It’s now 2:30pm. “The ride should be just over an hour,” notifies the bus driver.
This is good. My flight isn’t until 4:30pm. If we arrive by 3:40pm, I’m still in good time.
We’re driving down the highway. And the bus stops. It….stops. I look out the window. Other cars are stopped as well. Shit. Well, I can manage a bit of traffic.
I check google maps for my estimated time of arrival. There is a decent stretch of red showing up for the traffic situation. It says I’ll get there by 4:05pm. That’s really pushing it, but I’ll still make it. I just need to speed through airport security and get to the gate.
We crawl for the next half an hour. I refresh my ETA on google maps. This is not looking good…4:10pm.
What was the bottleneck? They’re doing construction on a bridge and have blocked two of the three lanes. Hnnng
It’s now 4:10pm. And we’re not at the airport yet. I think I’ve resolved that I won’t make the flight, but I try anyway. 4:16pm and the bus pulls up at its station. I wait for my bag and race to security. 4:20pm. I ask the man at security if he can check if the gate is still open. He calls in, but the guy on the other end is too busy to check.
“You can try anyway. Just go through,” He suggests. But there’s no fast track for you if you’re running super late.
So I try. But I see the queue – it’s at least 10min long. Yeah, I’m not going to make it. 4:25pm. I check the Stansted airport website for the gates. Gate is closed.
With a sigh, I fight my way back through the queue. “What happened?” the guy at security asks.
“I missed it,” I admit.
I drag myself to the Ryanair customer service queue. It’s sizable. I check online – there’s another flight that evening at 8:30pm – and tickets are 43pounds. But you can’t book them online, only at the airport desk. So I wait.
A young, dark haired girl with a pink suitcase and high heeled boots pushes her way forward. She’s going to meet someone else in the queue, I think to myself, but 10min later, and she’s just standing there, now many places ahead of me. That bitch.
I get to the desk. I ask to book the next flight.
“That will be 100 pounds,” he says.
Wait, online it’s only 43GBP, why is it now 100?
“That’s the fee for flights booked from the airport that are leaving today. You can book online for tomorrow,” he explains.
Well, I gotta do it. I only have a few days in Scotland, and I have accommodation and car hire waiting for me, plus just thinking about trying to get a bus back into London makes me sick.
So I pay it. But what a rort.
Stansted airport is far from London, and if you’re on a bus you’re beholden to traffic. If I had luggage to check in? Another 30min waiting in a queue. And the wait for security checks is just ridiculous. It’s like the whole system was built to make you miss your flight, so that they can enforce a silly policy of charging you ridiculous prices for what is a cheap, short flight.
But lesson learned – if you’re travelling by road to a budget airline, allow even more time that you think.