Monday, July 17, 2006

BMI's heat wave

The British Isles are predicted to enjoy (suffer) the hottest day of the year this week. And this morning BMI (British Midland) are doing their bit to help us prepare.

The rear auxiliary power unit on the red-eye bit of Belfast to Heathrow isn't working this morning. It provides the electrical juice for the much needed air conditioning - so we're stuck in the blazing morning sun with no cool air until they start the main engines.

And since there's a take-off restriction that means we'll only be in the air 45 minutes after the scheduled take-off time, we've a while yet to cook on the tarmac.

Normally the sweating doesn't begin until you hit the Tube in London. This morning, the full flight is humming along nicely at Gate 4 in anticipation.

Oh, and we've just lost the ground electrical power in the middle of the safety video. So lights out, video off, silence except for the rustling of morning newspapers.

Hopefully the pilot will take pity on us and do as he suggested. Start the engines (and turn on the air con) and taxi to a quiet corner of the St George Belfast City Airport to cool us down. But then that would use up precious fuel that he'd rather not spend on needlessly cooling down his passengers.

(It hasn't been BMI's weekend - Sunday night's flights landed hours after their scheduled times, leaving the "late" flight (2055) to take off sometime around 11pm. The local residents will not be pleased.)

UPDATE: The pilot didn't taxi any sooner than required, leaving us to cook as the sun beat in the little windows into the metal cigar-shaped oven

Our little Airbus 320 arrived at Heathrow but had park on the wrong stand after last night's irregularities - it's going to Manchester next ... so we had to be shifted the hundred yards or so down to the "Belfast gate" by bus.

Why can't security walk the short distance down Terminal One to let us leave via the walkway attached to the plane. Or better still, given that there wasn't anyone physically present at the Belfast gate to eyeball us, why can't they just switch their screens to watch a different set of video cameras?

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