On my way back from Barcelona, I stupidly went via London Heathrow (LHR) - that great festering pile of Spanish Construction S(h)ite in West London. I remember in the mid-eighties thinking (after their last major refurbishment) that it was cool. Well. I was young and naive.. Now -well - I'd rather hammer rusty nails through my eyeball. So. How did it go this time ?
After a marathon 5 hour wait at Barcelona Airport (*that*'ll teach me to read my flight times properly!), I got on the Barcelona to London flight. And fell asleep. Work up for food, and fell asleep again. By the time we landed, I felt reasonably human and fit to face the world. It was a tight connection - under two hours - and so it was touch and go. So we landed, taxi'd and parked. Then the captain came over the speakers - not a good sign.
"It turns out that we've been parked at the wrong gate, and so its a bus transfer. And since this is London Heathrow (he used just the right amount of weariness), this may take some time". Everyone sits down, aside from the irritating middle aged spaniard with no idea of personal body space, currently parked on my foot...
Damn. A full 30 minutes later, on the bus, and into the 'Connection Center'. This is an ace rabbit warren of badly decorated, peeling corridors, and about a thousand miles of queueing barriers and unnecessary security checks. Through in 20 minutes - a record!
Now for the mile-long walk to Terminal one. I get there, just in time - and find - yes - my connecting flight is cancelled.. Sigh.
Over to the BA customer service desk (surely an oxymoron) where two middle aged dears with degrees in sarcasm try baiting me to lose my temper. Finally get them to give me a pass for the next flight, and confirm that my bags are actually on the plane. Excellent. I felt I've just stamped through a minefiled, blindfolded, given my hair-trigger temper. Now. What to do for 90 minutes..
Wander around, admiring the 80's decor, visit the shop, go to the toilet, etc. Damn. I *NEED* a cigarette.. Blast.
Out through security, and trudge to the 'smoking area' which is beside a car pick up point. Past all the staff smoking in the non-smoking areas. but decide not to risk it as I dont have a pass. Two fags and a coughing fit later, back to the terminal. Join the queue for security...
"Oy! Only one BAG per Person" I'm informed by a 'customer service representative'. A massive oxymoron. I look at my diminutive laptop bag, and the carrier bag with five cartons of cigarettes. "Pardon?"
'ONLY ONE BAG. Cant you READ?"
Mmm. Again, the Bill-baiting. Sigh. "Look, I just came in from Barcelona - see the duty-free carrier bag ? - and popped outside. I don want to check either of these bags though, and as you can see, they're not large..". Behind him, a family go through with what appeared to be Victorian shipping cases..
"ONLY ONE BAG!!"".. The rentacops awaken in the corner, sniffing blood.. "Okay...".
So I wander around the 'Shops' (Well, 'Shop') at Heathrow asking if they have a large carrier bag. I even try and get a bin-liner off a cleaner, but my portugese is non-existent. This is Britain after all! Finally, went to the BA checkin desk and asked for some tape...
Voila! The Billy 'One-Bag' Solution. Excellent. Bear this in mind next time you fly..
Through I went, past Mr Oxy Moron, and onto my flight. Which was late, but hardly surprising..
I HATE HEATHROW AIRPORT!