Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Getting to London: a travel rant

All I wanted to do was go to London on Tuesday for the day, to attend a talk on Agile Delivery.

Some say that travel is all about the journey, others rave about the destination. Still others might feel that travel is like being continuously on the verge of a rant.

When you only fly occasionally, I guess the irks of moving about don't matter so much; but when you go through an airport on average more than once a week, it grinds you down.

The first trick is to get checked-in as early as possible (preferably before leaving your house), and get a seat assigned.

Yesterday afternoon ...
  • bmi's online check-in was unavailable on Easter Monday afternoon. So no printing out the boarding pass at home and going straight to security in the morning.
  • But it's still worth getting a seat reserved - helps to get off faster at the far end. The call to telephone check-in took an agonising 10 minutes, but successfully got me checked-in, allocated aisle seat 11D.
Fast forward to this morning.
  • Up at 5.20. Yawn. Is Easter really over?
  • Get to the airport, queue up at the self service machine to get a boarding pass printed. Only it doesn't want to cooperate, and directs me to the real check-in desks.
  • Queue for another 10 minutes, wait three at the desk, and hurray ... boarding cards in hand for my flight, and the return one too!
  • But seat 11D is no longer mine. They've moved the curtain separating business class from cattle class so I'm further back in a window seat with a view over the wing.
  • Got searched going through security, and they decided to go through every last pocket of my laptop bag, swabbing for explosives!
On the plane ...
  • Walking down the aisle towards my seat - business class is half empty - no way they needed the extra five rows.
  • Smooth flight, circled over central London for ten minutes (window seat came in handy) and landed a full 25 minutes early.
You can just make out the arch over Wembley Stadium.

And to trump it all, I've forgotten my work ID card, so getting into the building at the far end will be anything but straightforward. At least I can only blame myself for that.

UPDATE - After a security search miles stricter than the one at the airport - ever had to remove the pens from your jacket pocket because they made the scanner ding? - I got inside.

And although the meeting was on the ground floor, lunch was served up near the top, and the view was spectacular ... will post the evidence soon. Photos now posted.

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