Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Tale of Two Airports

Thursday saw Ben's return to the UK, head-scratchingly uneventful, but for the fact that he didn't let anyone know that he had arrived. Then Friday, after my final performance as Mother Nature, during which the real Mother Nature played along by squeezing out a few flakes of snow, I was taken to the airport.

Since the last time I flew out of there, which must have been January, YVR, already probably one of the most attractive airports in the world (bearing in mind that I haven't by any means flown around the whole world) has been upgraded to state-of-the-art readiness for the Olympics. It, quite simply, took my breath away. I feel it is not only ready for showing Vancouver off to the best possible advantage this February, but well into the future. And the staff all greeted me in French, followed by English. I was beyond impressed.

And this contrasted most starkly with Terminal three at Heathrow. What a complete shambles. Immigration - as usual there, smooth, well-oiled (not in the alcoholic sense mind) and efficient. Luggage.....-ish. But once through customs, things start to deteriorate. No ladies toilet unless you schlepp all the way over to departures, then back and the endless, ENDLESS trek to the central bus terminus. Once there, you have to deal with polite inefficiency in order to buy a ticket, although what I would commend is that anyone who ISN'T polite gets short shrift. That, I like.

But realistically, the world is going to be coming through Heathrow in two years time for London's Olympics. I'm sure that Terminal Five is burnished brightly, but all of the terminals need attention and the service of the people peripheral to operations there, is not up to snuff.

My 'plane was at the gate by 13.00, I was not on a coach out of Heathrow until 14.30. That really is a poor show. But things were about to get worse. The trains down to Portsmouth were also delayed since the legendary 'engineering works' were going on on the line, so you had to get out at Petersfield, get on a bus to Havant, then back on a train to the Portsmouth stations. Austen chose instead to come and collect me from Petersfield.

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