Lotus what? Nah mate, the world has moved on.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Flying and the pleasures of using Heathrow

I have blogged about this before on one of my many unpublished blogs. On my gom blog (grumpy old man) I noted many tips for frequent flyer's. Flying is one of the most stressful pastimes ever. You need to be at the airport early to reduce initial stress or you will be a nervous wreck. You will then have to face the traffic either in a taxi or car or god forbid, public transport! (nothing wrong with Public transport until you are in a hurry) You will need to remember everything important for your trip. This means "rehearsing" you're day a few times in your mind's eye and guess when you will realise you forgot something? And then there is airport parking. It costs an arm and a leg but I guess they have you by the short and curlies as a taxi is not much cheaper.

And then there is the inevitable security checking.

It is humiliating and infuriating experience at the same time. As a frequent traveler I pride myself in knowing what to take and which rules not to challenge. If it was only me in the queue I would be through before you would notice. I am the ninja of security check ins. So why the stress? arghhh, I am not the only one in the queue!

Let me stereotype a little. There is the guy with 3 bags even though it clearly states one bag only. There is the unorganised lady, passport in the shoes, boarding card in the hair, coat hanging on the floor. Then the old fart, slow, slow, everything must be explained. I can go on but suffice to say it can be stressful.

And now the captain has just explained how Paris handles excess traffic. Our departure time has just been extended by 50 minutes. So, get up at 4 to be at the airport for 5 for a plane scheduled to leave at 6 that will only leave at 7 and will travel on hour and then be in a holding pattern till 9. I see a pattern here.

My top tips then for a stress free (ok, less stressful ) flight:

  • Always check in electronically the night before.
  • Isles seats are always better apart from no view but that is wheather dependent anyway.
  • For short trips travel light and leave stuff you will not need.
  • Use the motto "have American Express will travel" and buy stuff if needed.
  • Instead of packing multiple shirts in case of spillage buy another shirt. It will always be used.
  • Make sure your laptop can easily be pulled out.
  • Make sure that you consider security searches when packing by grouping items.
  • Always remove all metal items and place them in a tray for xraying. Setting off the walk through detectors delays everyone and only encourages the already gungho security staff.
  • NEVER LOOSE SIGHT OF YOUR STUFF IN THE TRAYS.
  • If your damn belt buckle sets of the alarm consistently buy a new belt.
  • If security searched don't argue, be polite and grin and bear it, ie, take one for the team.
  • If you packed a small pair of scissors or took any sharp pointy things then you are an idiot and deserve to miss your flight.
  • Yes, security has the authority to make sure you will have a very bad day.
  • Once at the destination airport make it a priority to find a toilet before picking up your bags or leaving customs. You never know when an inconvenience will change to a desperate situation and being stuck in a 20 mile traffic jam will make you wish you listened to me!
  • If you are fortunate enough to have a business funded hotel then always consider using courtesy buses. It may be difficult to find but at least they know where you want to go and is not hell bent in removing you from your money.
  • If you have to use public transport then do not waste time trying to operate foreign machines unless you are familiar with them or just like wasting you're and everybody else time.
  • At least queuing for a ticket will put you in front of a human being and if you are friendly and approachable you may get a warm welcome, the correct ticket and a valuable map.
  • Smile, it cost nothing but pays handsome dividends.
  • When using subways be aware of bad people and WATCH you're stuff or you will soon be parted from your valuables.
  • Concentrate on the route and make sure you know when and where to change lines.
  • If you have to read a map do so at an inconspicuous place so that you don't broadcast, I am a tourist,Mug me please.
  • Or just hop into a taxi and get taken for a ride!

Chalet-les Halles coming up gotogo. Oh one more piece of wisdom. A famous South African cricketer was once asked about all the exotic traveling he has done and retorted, what the airports, hotels and cricket grounds? Always try and travel the day before and take time out to see the wonderful places you visit. Stay an extra day and pay for the hotel. It is better to say you have seen the sights than to say you have seen the airport.

"life's a journey"

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