25.11.2011 - 25.11.2011 13 °C
The airport was surprisingly busy for 01:00 in the morning, with cars triple parked to drop passengers off at the international terminal. Rushing to get out of the car, I caught my foot in the door and fell flat on my face on the pavement. Fortunately my trousers are still intact, but my knee is grazed and so is my wrist. This goes with the missing skin on the knuckles (which has now becomes infected, swollen and rather red). What a state to get yourself into!
Quite unintentionally we ended up jumping the queue to enter the airport building, but it still took us over 20 minutes just to get through security into the terminal, with tickets being checked against your passports. If we had actually joined the end of the queue as we should have done (we didn't realise we were queue-jumping until we were nearly inside the building), it would have easily doubled that time. Another ten minutes queue to reach the check-in staff, then 20 minutes for the immigration queue, ready for the chaos at security! Ladies one side, men the other. Something went wrong with the conveyor belt and no luggage was going through, making a few passengers panic as their flights had been called. Eventually the belts start working again, but the system was rather flawed, and I didn't feel very comfortable with leaving my hand luggage unattended on the belt for other people to push through, while I fought my way back through those people still queuing to place their bags on the belt, in order to go through X-ray in another area and on for the frisking.
By this time David was through, and so were the bags, except my camera bag which had been 'quarantined'. When I answered negative to the question if I had a knife but explained there was a nail-file in there, they just sent it through again and seemed quite happy. I really don't understand how airport security works.
The peace and quiet at the gate seemed a life away from the bedlam outside.
The Emirates A380 is one very special plane, even in the days of jaded air travel. A double decker capable of holding 800 passengers, the upper deck has private suites, flat beds, spa showers and two cocktail lounges. We were downstairs in cattle class though, and not even allowed as much as a peek at how the other half flies.
With such a huge plane on two levels, disembarking is proving a little bit of a headache at all other airports except Dubai (where a special double-decker entrance gate has been created), and on arrival at Heathrow, they were trialling a new system which saw us standing for what seemed like an eternity at the bottom of the steps in a bitterly cold wind (at least it wasn't raining), before being bussed for 20 minutes half way around the entire airport area, through tunnels, across traffic lights and around building works before arriving at the terminal.
Unable to use the automatic biometric passport gate (unlike David) because the chip in my passport has a copy of my finger prints as well as my photo, I waited patiently for my turn at immigration, where I was provided with some excitement in the form of a black gentleman who obviously had a chip (and not a biometric one!) on his shoulders as large a a tree trunk, and when asked a very simple question about his passport by the official started ranting and raving “it's cuz I'm black innit?” before he was carted off by security after becoming very abusive.
One of our best discoveries in recent years, is the Airport Meet on Return service form Purple Parking where they deliver your car directly to the airport terminal when you arrive for you to drive off straight away. For the small extra fee, it is worth every penny and saves almost an hour on the journey time. It's our little bit of luxury when we travel.
Welcome back to England.