Following half the advice I got from Matt, I booked a room in what is called “Terminal 5 Travelodge”. It cost me £42. It is supposedly only two miles from the airport. I think that is “as the crow flies” but more of that later.
My delayed flight took off at about 23.00 Moscow time, some 3½ hours late. Since I had arrived at the airport two hours early for my flight that meant I was kicking my heels at Domodedovo for 5½ hours. I decided to bite the bullet and pay to go into a business lounge. There was not only free food and drink but also more comfortable and pleasant surroundings – apart from the occasional crying child. And free wi-fi and access to a power supply to keep the laptop charged.
It was a pleasant enough flight, as BA flights usually are. G&T was dispensed, together with a small bottle of white wine with the dinner of “Siberian pelmeni”. I watched, and enjoyed, Jack Reacher on the entertainment system.
I had raging toothache for about 5 minutes. I think it must somehow be connected with the pressure in the aeroplane. This has happened on my last 3 flights. I've been once to the dentist but he must have filled the wrong hole! I will need to go again, as a matter of some urgency.
The plane landed at midnight. I don't think they're allowed to land later than that as a sop to Londoners to reduce the noise pollution.
The Border Agency, or whatever they choose to call themselves these days, had gone to great lengths to keep the number of their staff on duty to an absolute minimum. I suspect they think we are there for their convenience rather than the other way around. Unfortunately they also decided to close Iris, the automatic iris recognition system and the chip and pin automatic passport scanning system. Having gone down the lanes to these two systems in order to discover they weren't working I then found myself at the back of the queue for manual passport checking. After some little time a second official decided to come out and help clear the backlog. We must be grateful for small mercies.
Now out to the taxi rank, where the fun really started. I negotiated with the guy in the front taxi and we agreed £10 for the 2 miles to Colnbrook. I got in and as he started to drive off he said it would be £20, not £10. I declined, got out and went to look for something cheaper. There were buses that said “delayed flights” on their destination boards. On closer inspection BA staff told me they weren't for my delayed flight and somebody should have been at the arrival point handing out letters saying that we should get a taxi and claim the fare back. Fair enough, I went back to the taxi rank. Now the fare had increased, in 10 short minutes, to £35! I refuse to pay £35 for 2 miles even if the airline were to pay me back later. I walked back along the row of taxis and found a guy who said he would do it for £20 but then the controller/despatcher call him what you will (under my breath I called him something altogether different) told the driver he wouldn't allow him to take me for anything less than the £35 already stated.
I can partly see their point of view that if somebody at the front of a row of taxis takes a fare just a short distance then when he returns he has to go to the back of the line and slowly work his way to the front for a crack at a more lucrative fare.
However, I decided I would walk! I figured that 2 miles would take me ½ hour. An hour later (!) I arrived at the Travelodge to find that they had no booking for me. Turned out that I had somehow booked for the night of 2/3 May! They couldn't change the booking on their system but if I went online I could amend it myself. Because it was already past midnight I couldn't get the system to accept a booking for the night of 29th April but it would willingly give me Tuesday night. The guy on duty said it would cost an extra £10 for an early book in. I argued the point and he conceded that he could give me a Monday night room on his system for £50 with no early booking in supplement. I would need to be out by 12.00 noon on Tuesday.
Finally I could collapse into bed. 0218 UK time, 0518 Moscow time. Almost time to get up.