Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A certain inevitibility

Well, we're back in Fife now, home from the Canadian Wilderness.

Like most journeys, it had its ups and downs.* Flying steerage is never much fun at the best of times, but at least this was a late night flight, which meant snoozing, if not full-blown sleep, was possible. My previous post about rules was only reinforced by the actions of my fellow passengers. It doesn't matter how many times the cabin crew say keep your seatbelts on and mobile phones off until the engines have stopped; as soon as the wheels hit the runway the bells are ringing and people are making for the overhead lockers.

The journey started badly. Sunshine threw one last surprise at us, and on Monday morning the entire resort was closed. Even the gondola, which gets you from the hotel back down to the carpark several miles away. The access road was blocked with snow, and for a while it looked like we were going to be having a slightly longer holiday than planned. Sadly skiing wasn't available, as the winds were too high to run any of the chairlifts. Nor could you see anything more than a few yards away as the blizzard threw snow around like a spoiled child.

But it eased off by mid-morning, enough at least to get out. So we managed to make our meeting with Sandra and EvilKev, at the Chapters bookshop in Dalhousie. I now have a signed copy of Suspicious Circumstances, and some chocolates.** Or at least I would have, but British Airways managed to lose our luggage somewhere between Calgary and here.

It's something of a cliche, the lost luggage. I've never had it happen to me before, but everybody knows someone who has a friend whose bags have gone missing. Our flight into Heathrow arrived a tiny bit late, thanks to a delay in leaving whilst the plane was de-iced (horrible feelings of deja vu there). But the real balls-up happened at London's premier international gateway itself.

First the airport ground crew had forgotten to switch on something important, so we sat on the taxi-way for fifteen minutes waiting for a slot to park the plane. Then there was no mobile staircase available (and of course, no modern docking arm, like you'd expect of the largest flight hub in Europe), so we had to wait another fifteen minutes for that to turn up.

We were put on a bus and trundled across to terminal four, where twenty minutes of brisk walking, climbing stairs, across empty concourses and then back down stairs brought us to another bus that looked suspiciously like the one we'd recently vacated - right down to the bearded driver with the oddly effeminate voice. This took us, by a long and winding road, to terminal one and another long march through endless corridors until we finally reached 'flight connections.'

At this point we'd given up all chance of making our connecting flight to Edinburgh. It was well past the gate closing time, and almost past the take-off time. I'd already phoned my mum to tell her not to head out to the airport as we were going to be substantially late. However, due to the magic that is air travel, our connecting flight itself was running behind schedule, and if we ran we might, just might, make it in time.

We ran. And just in time we made it.

Our luggage, not having long legs or athletic muscles honed by weeks on the ski slopes, didn't.

So now we're sitting here, in deepest, darkest Fife, waiting for BA to courier everything to us. They phoned late last night to say they had found three of the four bags, and we spent a happy time speculating as to which one was missing. Most likely was the ski bag, since it is long and awkward. But I was betting on my boot bag, as I had cunningly hidden two litre bottles of gin in my boots.*** This morning, however, a second call came in saying they'd found the last bag and were sending it out later today. Now all we've got to do is sit here and wait for them to arrive. Joy.

It is possible to fly direct to Calgary from Glasgow (or Paisley), avoiding Heathrow completely. Actually, it's possible to fly pretty much anywhere in the world avoiding Heathrow, except Heathrow itself. I can't imagine that anyone would actually want to go there for its own sake, so from now on, and if I ever get to fly anywhere again in these perversely environmental times, I vow never to fly via Heathrow.

I'll probably still lose my luggage though.

Postscript: Three bags have just arrived by white van: two boot bags (with gin) and the skis. We're still waiting for the bag with all the clothes in, which is causing the Horse Doctor some considerable anxiety as she is running low on underwear.

* please excuse the ungforgivable pun.
** actually, I have two, but one's for Mr Stuart.
*** well, it was twenty quid for two bottles of export strength Tanqueray in the duty free shop on the way out. It would have been rude not to buy them.

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Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Shame The Horse Doctor isn't in Japan, where you can get clean underwear from a vending machine.

I recommend flying direct to Glasgow. I did that two years ago. The only down side was the fact that the G8 thing was on, so there were a lot of armed people at the airport. Otherwise, it was so simple and convenient and I'd do that again in a heartbeat.

Heathrow and Gatwick are rites of passage, though. Like losing luggage, I guess. I've been with people who've had that problem, but it hasn't happened to me yet. I keep waiting... and not with great anticipation either.

March 14, 2007 3:32 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Armed people at Glasgow airport has nothing to do with G8, Sandra.

It's always like that.

March 14, 2007 6:57 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Is it every airport in the UK then? Or is Glasgow special? You just don't see the same military presence here.

March 14, 2007 11:53 pm  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

Yay! Sweeties for me! And beer too - I'm making out like a bandit!

March 15, 2007 12:12 pm  

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