28 May 2011

Temporary Refugee From Terminal Three

I have spent too much time recently in Terminal 3 at Heathrow.  (To be fair, any time spent at Terminal 3 is too much time if Terminal 5 is on offer, but it hasn't been.)

Do you remember the Curial Bishop who was supposed to accompany the Pope here who had suddenly to fall ill and withdraw after he was quoted saying that arriving in Britain was like arriving in the Third World?  Well he was right.  British citizen, valid pasport, hand luggage only: how long should it take from stepping off the plane to stepping out of the Terminal?  I'd have said fifteen minutes plus another five for Immigration, but recently planes have been parking up in what feels to be as far away as Hertfordshire and then gradually disgorging passengers into tiny buses, and Immigration seems woefully undermanned, with long snaking queues of hundreds of people in front of you in the queue.  And the grime is inescapable.  It takes forever.

And departing!  You can play the system, or at least gamble on successfully playing the system: hand luggage only, check in before leaving home, eat and drink at a pitstop off the motorway and within 10 minutes of the terminal, arrive exactly one hour before scheduled departure, and keep moving through security and straight on to the gate which will have been announced by the time you arrive.  But that requires a journey that involves somebody with time to indulge you agreeing to drop you off.  The alternative is jostling vast crowds for somewhere to sit and paying outrageous prices even to replace the bottle of water confiscated from you on the way in.

And no time to think; no time to find anywhere quiet to stop and reflect; no fresh air ...

Normal service will hopefully resume soon.


Mike Cliffson said...

Not a foretaste of Hell.But maybe aspects thereof.

Anagnostis said...

Scott-King's Modern Europe

Richard Collins said...

Yes, been there, done it...good preparation for Purgatory!