British *Bloody* Airways

I've almost forgotten just how bad BA can be sometimes. BA, as you all know are one of the biggest and oldest airlines working out of the UK, as evidenced by their aging fleet of stewardesses. Generally, they charge a premium rate for what they consider to be premium service - allocated seats, cooked breakfast, free drinkie on the way home, and 'slightly larger seats'. The latter is of course patently untrue. They're all tiny, unless you go down the 'I'm a VP of IBM on a fatuous business trip so I travel Business' ticket.

So I'm working (bloody hard, actually) in London, doing work for someone who shall remain nameless. And as part of this, I fly from Aberdeen, Dundee or Edinburgh (55, 35, and 90 miles respectively from my house), to one of the five big London Airports. These are:

  • Gatwick. Its like an ageing aunt. You once had good memories there, but now it smells of pee, and nothing works. You feel extremely let down by every experience you ever had there, and the journey to and from there is like being packed in a japanese train (50 minutes). Very unpleasant, and as a bonus, very unreliable. Avoid at all costs. Civilisations have risen and fallen the time it takes to queue through security.

  • London Luton Airport. Home of SleasyJet, the second biggest budjet carrier. Its brutally efficient here, except when its not. They now sell 'I can jump the queues' tickets for £3, and everyone travelling through there has to either wear a shell suit or be on a stag/hen weekend. The travel to and fron Luton (75 mins door to door) is like taking the bus to another country. Chickens, goats, people making love in the back seat, and the trains only stop at the most foul of stations. Aside from St Pancras, which has been laminated. Luton, you get what you pay for. A stabbing.

  • London Stanstead. The newest, and chavviest airport. Apalling queues, only one toilet in the entire airport, always constantly busy, no power points (aside from one set-aside area - the 'business creche' - full of insecure suits all trying to look self important. Yeah. Right. The good news is that the train takes less than an hour, and comes straight into Liverpool Street, in the City of London. 50 or so minutes.

  • London Heathrow, and especially Terminal 5. Home of British Bloody Airways. The best, newest, most expensive, and disasterously opened terminal in the World. After a YEAR of fixing things, I thought I'd give it a whirl. So on Friday, I left the office around 2PM, and got there at 3.36pm. The Tube - yes a tube all the way from City to the airport - took 30 minutes longer than usual. Tried to go through security. 'Bleep'. Rejected. Go back to that checkin desk. At the checkin desk (3.37pm), I was informed I should have been through security at 3.30pm, for my 3.45 gate close. No-one in security. I have hand baggage. No, she says, my seat has been given away ALREADY. WHAT? So, I have to PAY them another £130 to get on a flight in another FOUR hours. Oh, thank you very much, British Bloody Airways. You scum. This is premium service, is it ?
    And once through to T5 airside, what do you have? Two enormous expanses of SHOPS, with tiny little gates bolted onto the outside of the building. The shops are - of course - exactly the same damn shops selling exactly the same damn stuff as everywhere else. The food is the same, the goods are the same, the experience is just slightly more wearing as the distances are greater. And - the high point. The visible electrical plugs you can see everywhere in the central areas - are deliberately switched off.

    So to do any reasonable work at this airport, you have to be in a lounge, which means paying 50% more for your economy tickets to rack up the points, or to pay for lounge access. Thank you very much.

  • London City airport. About 40 minutes down the DLR (robot controlled, very frequent tube trains) from the City, and you can get through to your flight 10 minutes before the gate closes - unlike everywhere else, where its 30-60 minutes. And you do get through in under 5 minutes. You can find a seat at the cafe which has wifi, power sockets, and decent food. And since the planes are really small, you get on and off of them quickly.

So there you have it. Avoid everywhere bar London City. The rest range between terrible and 'Prision Camp'...

(Dundee Airport, by the way, is so small two chaps - two extremely drunk chaps - people who could barely WALK - managed to scale the fence, and broke into a number of aircraft, trying to hotwire them. They got caught on their 4th attempt. This rather beats Aberdeen Airports 'Drunk Stripper scales fence and walks across runway' from a few years ago. Class.)