I often think of the George Clooney film Up in the Air as I inch forward in the airports security queue, choosing who to follow for quickest exit to the airside coffee shop. Mind you, I’m often one of the problems. However carefully I take off all the random bits of metal, I still get patted down. Wear no jewellery at all, take off watch and shoes, never wear a belt – but still I seem to be the random one. I once asked not to go through the machines only to be told not to worry – ‘it’s not X-ray machine, just microwave’. No problem there then.
Where’s my passport….
I’ve travelled so much over the past five years that my passport just lives in my bag. I recently packed it for a trip to Manchester – couldn’t compute not needing it! As a result I know my way around far too many airports – can find the closest loo, know which ones have Nero or Starbucks, and have a good idea how long to which gates. How sad am I?
I loved the change over of security at Edinburgh. Most places do the same now, but that first outing was a doozy. Formation dancing at the head of the queue – stand on the footsteps and pause; move forward on the beat; bags in the trays; remember your liquids………
Joe and the Juice at Gothenburg airport. The end of a long week of work, excited at the thought of a fresh carrot juice. Great juice, but the music was so loud we couldn’t talk. When I asked them to turn it down for us – the only customers at the time. Told it was against the brand. Oh dear – Joe got a bit carried away with the image!
Toilets are always a treat and provide an indication of things to come. Scandinavia loos are
always pristine – of course. More surprising are the pristine versions in parts of Asia – Kuala Lumpur for example. But then they do give clear instructions for going about your business. I particularly enjoyed the instruction to ‘Please remain seated for the entire epic performance.’ I’m still trying to work out where I might decide to go half way through.
Then there was the time I travelled with a broken arm and needed help to manage my bags. Asking for assistance at Geneva was an important experience – being transported at a time and pace determined by a perfect stranger. Famously left to settle in for a long wait with no means of going to the loo. Couldn’t carry my bags and nowhere to leave my bags – even people-watching didn’t make that time go quickly. Istanbul on the other hand was brilliant! Comfy motorised chair with a person standing on the back, whizzing me through the airport to meet my husband. Loved that!
Where’s my seat…..
And the strange experience when a fellow passenger wouldn’t vacate ‘my’ seat, saved for me by the steward in case I needed assistance during the flight. She claimed I might be making up the injury and anyway she had hurt her foot. She only had to move two rows down, but something clearly got hold of her and it was a no go. In the end, the captain had to send her off the plane. Crazy – last flight out to Geneva and she’d have to pay for another ticket. Well done, Easyjet – I was well looked after and you earned a cheer from the rest of the passengers.
Another thing about Istanbul – the business lounge for Turkish Air is a sight to behold. Scalextric, putting green, huge screens, fab design, variety of food outlets. You just need a reasonable lay over to see it all – in fact, make it a holiday on it’s own.
The best shower I’ve found so far was in Bejing. After a swift hot, sweaty visit to the Forbidden City at the end of a busy working week, we were looked after right royally. Given fresh, fluffy towels, put into a good size shower room with all the unction’s and potions you could possibly need. Come up smelling of patchouli and out for a glass of prosecco before beginning the long trip home.
Where’s the gate….
Then there’s Heathrow – a whole experience on it’s own. Travelling with a colleague, we once missed our stop on the internal shuttle. If you ever get chatting and do the same, take it from me, you can’t just get the train back to the right stop because you end up in the Transit area. There was plenty of time left before take off, but it was deemed too late and too difficult because we’d have to go through their security. No one else in sight, so it was hard to see how it could have taken long. But no – we had to buy two new flights. Not my favourite memory!
And did you know, it takes between 3,000 and 4,000 steps to go from entering the airport and getting on the plane? T5 can be up to 5,000. My trusty Withings watch keeps me well informed. I take it as a work out now – rushing all over while pulling a case or carrying a rucksack – should be good for the bingo wings. The only problem is changing time zones – I need my phone to connect before my watch will change. No good for long haul, where I like to go onto the new time zone from the outset – helps with the jet lag.
Where’s the check in…….
Southampton took me by surprise. Late for the plane and rushing, I couldn’t understand why everyone was so calm. I had to get to the gate yet! Then I realised this was it – I was at the gate – just one big room with two gates to choose from. Deep breath!
And best of all – Lamu Island off the coast of Kenya. Going from Heathrow via a workshop in Nairobi to the gentle little airport was what my Dad used to describe as the ‘sublime to the Cor Blimey’. Bags are taken off the plane in a wheelbarrow; the check in desk is just that – an old school desk; and we all sit in the large grassy field until the plane makes it’s appearance. The perfect introduction to a peaceful island with only donkeys and boats providing additional transport.