16 October 2002 – London Heathrow
We arrived at Heathrow to find the airline looking for volunteers to give up their seats on the overbooked flight to Cape Town. We immediately joined the group of volunteers waiting to see if we would be picked to spend the first night of the trip £400 richer in a fancy hotel with three meals provided.
In the minibus to the hotel we chatted to the other couple who had been picked – a retired, English couple who had recently bought a house in South Africa and were heading there for seven months to furnish it.
At the hotel, keen to enjoy every minute of this unexpected luxury, we grabbed our rucksacks and raced to beat the suitcase laden couple to reception. A wise move as we were informed that there was only one room free. We took it and left the couple to sort it out with the airline while we freshened up for our free three course dinner in the hotel restaurant. On our way to dinner we saw them waiting in reception and they told us an alternative B&B had been found for them.
We met them again at the check in desk next day and they told us about the dreadful Guest House that had only managed to rustle them up a sandwich the night before, while we were dining on steak and red wine. I pretended I hadn’t heard when the man said if it had been the other way round they would have offered to share. Aye right!
We felt slightly less guilty when, as compensation, they were upgraded to first class on the flight to Cape Town and even less guilty when we met them later in the trip and they told us about the table and chairs they’d just bought for what would amount to our whole two month budget in South Africa! OK – I confess – we didn’t feel guilty at all!!!!
When it was our turn to check in we were told there were no seats together. Retribution, we thought, till our disappointed faces and pleas that we had already delayed our trip by a whole day to help them out, resulted in an upgrade for us too – only to business class but beggars can’t be choosers I suppose.