Sunday, March 30, 2008

Heathrow's T5 - I shudder at the thought!

My friend just called me from Heathrow’s Terminal 5. She’s been camping out there since Friday morning, and though she normally has the disposition of a saint, this T5 fiasco has been too much even for her. She decided to cancel her US trip and head back to Glasgow. But wait, she can’t head back to Glasgow, because the whole Terminal 5 went tits up! (BBC link)

That, my dears, is a very valuable lesson on oh-so-many levels.

First, why would any sane person with a shred of brain activity left choose to fly BA is truly beyond me. And why fly in or out of Heathrow is an even greater mystery.

I learned to avoid BA after a series of disastrous flights to South Africa back in the early 1990s. Not sure why exactly I was flying with them in the first place, they weren’t all that cheap or convenient. Or maybe because the other choices were just as bad. Remember Sabena? What a disaster of an airline! Nothing like being held-up on a runway in Brazzaville by a group of angry thugs waving machine guns. Oh, the good, ole days of African travel…

But, back to the story.

During my ill-fated transfer at Heathrow back in the hey-day of BA, I too was delayed for a few days. And there was no plush, brand spanking new Terminal 5 to sleep in. As a holder of a not-so-desirable passport (back then), I was not permitted to leave the transit area and had to camp on the floor for a couple of days. I made friends with other undesirables, from Sri Lanka and Uganda, Russia and Nigeria. I also made a vow never to fly BA again.

That vow was broken during my subsequent trips to Africa, until I learned not to be afraid of people who speak French and eat baguettes with every meal. Yep, I began to fly Air France. And never set foot on a BA flight again.

Got close a couple of times, but with the BA’s policy on cabin luggage (“and so what if you are stupid enough to fly with three cameras, we allow ONE piece ONLY and that would be your purse, missy”) I chose to pay more and make sure that my hand luggage is still in my hands when arriving at my destination.

And now my pal tells me that not only Heathrow hasn’t improved, it got WORSE! And she’s not going to Miami anymore, now all she wants is just to get home to Glasgow. I told her to take a train. She says, she would, but her luggage is stuck in the belly of the Beast Terminal 5, and after this monumental fiasco, she doesn’t trust BA to give it back to her if she leaves.

“Your cats would do a better job of running a bloody airport,” she said.

Yep, and they don’t even have opposing thumbs. Are my cats awesome, or what?

The only problem is – now that she’s not going to the US anymore, I need to find someone else to supply me with Jolly Ranchers and hair gel. Damn…

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