A Trip Gone Wrong


Now that my semester in Sweden has ended, there’s about 2 months break before my next semester starts up in Japan (although a month already passed by). So in order to utilize this time productively, I thought to myself, “I should travel around Europe!” I chose two places from my list of Top-Places-In-Europe-I-Want-to-Visit, they were London and Prague. It was going to be a nice, epic, and adventurous 6-days 5-nights trip but not everything went as planned. In fact, I made a mistake so fatal that it completely changed the course of my travels!

A picture in front of Buckingham Palace! It was a cold and windy day, which I was told was the typical London weather!
The Big Mistake

Many people may already know that London has a lot of airports, like a lot. I’d learn that before my trip to London however, I did not know there were two airports with similar three-letter code name. After spending three full days in London with a family friend that I have not seen since ~10 years ago, I was ready to go to Prague. So I took the bus to Stansted airport, confident that it was where I should be. I didn’t even bother to do a double check on my flight details, that was the big mistake. When I arrived at Stansted airport, I looked up at the departure screen to see where my gate was, and strangely my flight was not on the screen. By the time I realized I was in the wrong place, it was already too late to find a way to the right airport and catch my flight to Prague.

What happened was that I misread the three-letter code name for the airport I’m supposed to be in. Stansted airport’s letters were STN, and the airport I needed to be at was Southend airport, SEN. Just one letter difference and I missed my chance to go to Prague. But I still didn’t want to give up. I quickly gathered myself and recovered from a state of major panic to think about what I should do next…to figure out a solution to my predicament.

Maritime Museum clock in London; time is ticking!
The Solutions…?

Immediately after regaining composure, I thought to myself, “can I still make it to Southend airport?” At the time, I had a little less than 2 hours before my flight leaves to Prague so maybe there’s still time for me to get to SEN. I quickly ran to a bus company counter and asked them how long it would take to get to Southend. Unfortunately it would take more than 2 hours to get there and so I’ll most definitely miss the flight anyways. But they suggested that I find out if a taxi can get me there on time, though it would cost a fortune. So I ran to a taxi company counter nearby and asked them the same question. The good news is that they can take me there on time for my flight, the bad news is that it costs £105, which is roughly $140. My goodness gracious, I didn’t know taxis cost so much! I wasn’t going to pay for a taxi fare that costed more than my plane ticket to Prague, so I thanked the ticket seller and walked away in distraught.

So I can’t get to the right airport on time, but can I switch tickets to fly out of Stansted? I walked up to the airline counter that I bought my ticket from, and long story short it’ll cost me about £90 to either:

  1.  Fly out of Stansted to Prague
  2.  Fly out of Southend or  Stansted to Prague the next day
  3.  Fly out to Prague the day after

Again, that was more expensive than the total cost to Prague and I could be spending £90 on something else. After painful realization that I will not make it, I’ve accepted defeat and finally let go of my short vacation in Prague.

Conclusion & Lessons Learned

Looking back now, the two extra days I spent in London before returning to The Netherlands was not bad at all. I got to see more of London and hung out with my family friends longer. Missing the flight to Prague gave me a chance to use my critical thinking skills in times of dire stress. I learned that I can calm myself quickly and regain composure to think of a solution to the problem I’m facing. In a way, it was a valuable experience in disguise. And there will be an opportunity in the future for me to return to Europe, I’m sure of it. When that happens, I will most definitely shoot for Prague again and hopefully, I’ll remember from this experience to double and triple check my flight details.

Kensington Palace garden! Beautiful landscape, close to Hyde Park, and swarming with birds! (Birds not in photo)