Here I am, sitting awake at 2am, when I have to get up at 5.30am to go to the airport. Heathrow, that is—the world’s least favourite airport (R) TM. The only part of flying I don’t mind is the actual time in the air. The rest of it I find unbearable. No matter how sensible the departure time appears when I book it, I always find myself out of bed at an ungodly hour in order to travel to the airport in some far-flung fringe of the city it purports to serve, so that I can be there two hours before take-off. Two hours in which I stand in a long queue for the only two counters actually staffed, worrying about my habitually overweight baggage. Will they accept it, or will they demand a couple of limbs in payment?
Of course, once the baggage is checked, that’s a much happier prospect. Ever wondered why the staff are always frantically calling for late passengers and running around trying to find them? Believe me, it’s not out of the kindness of their hearts. No, it’s because international conventions prohibit passengers from sending their baggage on a plane unless they are actually travelling themselves. I believe that this is in order to counter terrorism by bombs in luggage, although given the number of people happy to blow themselves up for their beliefs, it might not actually be that useful. Anyway, once your luggage is checked and thrown (yes, thrown!) onto the aircraft, they have to be sure that you are also on there. Otherwise, they have to take all the luggage off again until they find your bag. Not an appealing prospect, I gather. So once those bags are checked, relax! Enjoy the amenities. Maybe enjoy a small but ludicrously overpriced coffee at one of the price-fixed captive-market customer-shafting cafes. They’ll let you know when they need you!
The worry isn’t over there though. Will the flight take off on time? At all? Will I make my connecting flight? Will I be savaged by customs as one of the random search victims? You don’t have to be an international drug smuggler or gangster type to hate it. Who knows what arcane laws lie in wait to trap you? The very best one can hope for is to lose one’s time and privacy.
Bad news today. My job offer fell through, so now I have to look for another job in Japan. Bah.
Flight numbers LX317 and LX168. If you see those numbers on the news, I’m probably not OK! Otherwise, I shall update this when I next have a chance, from Japan.