Viva Las Vegas...

I got home from Skye last night around 11:30pm - a horrendous 6 hour drive in the rain - and left for the airport at 4:15am. Flew down to London Gatwick, and thanks to the ridiculous BAA policy of not investing in fixing the passenger belts, saw about 2,000 people queue for Virgin flights. 2,000 pissed off, tired, grumpy people.

They shut the on-line checkin booths (my bag was being transferred from the Aberdeen flight) to prevent a riot. Whilst this was being explained to me, a nearby armed police officer listened to the conversation. I finished off by explaining to the callow youth that he should ask the police officer to arrest whoever had made that decision for gross studpidity.. It got a laugh..

Finally, the time for our flight grew near, and the passengers were pulled out of the queue. Another 25 minute wait as the baggage belts had frozen again. Finally, I found a sensiible virgin employee and she got me a boarding pass. Then off to the security queue - another pointless 30 minute wait. Richard Branson, if for some reason you see this - fix it. Its a bloody mess...

By the time I got through, they were calling my flight, so another 2 mile walk to the gate. All of the gates in that area were being upgraded, so it was literally like climing through a building site. Chatted to a BAA staff member in a smoking area (I had three separate lighters confiscated today. Was advised that matches were NOT being confiscaed. Eh?).

The guy admitted that London Gatwick airport holds a rather distintive record. Of all the airports in the northern hemisphere, only ONE - Gatwick - has bad results - bottom of the table results - in every single measurement category. Amazing. I mean - "Welcome to Britain - its a bit shit" is all fine and good, but to go for every single category ? Makes you proud. When I asked the staffer if the transfer of BAA ownership to a Spanish building company had made any difference, he just blankly stated that no - it made no difference. No cash was forthcoming for any improvements..

If you can possibly avoid London Gatwick, do so. Heathrow is only marginally better. I much prefer Schipol, for instance. You might not love Dutch cooking - but they *are* organised and relatively efficient.

Finally on the plane (After yet another pointless security search!), got my aisle seat.. And relax... Virgin cabin staff were attentive - if a little tight with the beer - and I got a couple of hours sleep.

Had fun today explaining to people that Yes, I was heading to Vegas, all expenses paid - and in fact paid for the speaking I'll be doing  at the View Developer 2006 conference here on Monday. Its taken 20 years to get a business trip quite as nice as this, and I'll be working my hairy little butt off to ensure that this happens again...

Taxi at Las Vegas airport - and a Hungarian taxi driver. Lots of good local information, so well worth the couple of bucks tip I gave him.

I'm currently sitting in a 13th floor suite in the Rio, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a view overlooking the mountains around Vegas. A well stocked mini-bar, fast internet access, huge bath. Lovely. I could soooooo easily get used to this.

I think I'm meeting up with Brian Benz on Saturday for his "tour", and then spending sunday hiding in my room, revising my five 90 minute presentations... I'll probably head downstairs around 7pm if anyone wants to meet up... (Kathleen - still getting in late on Sunday ?)