Trip Start Mar 22, 2012
11Trip End Apr 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
overnight on the plane
What I did
Arriving at Heathrow, we had to drop off bags and got a "fast track" coupon which supposedly takes you through the security line quickly. We also got an invitation to the lounge as we are flying business class. I have decided that whenever it is possible, anything over a four hour flight needs to be business class. Of course, sometimes we just can't afford that but this time I managed it. Our bags are tagged and we head to security. London and Heathrow are ramping up for the Olympics this summer and also for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which makes it a very exciting time to live in London. I’m quite glad to be here. We head for the security lane and get through the fast track and immediately I am tracked to one side and a different lane that the one my husband is told to join. Ah oh. Should have realized then it was not going to be an idea trip through the security. My little goodie bag of allowed liquids is put onto the conveyer belt, my shoes are off, my watch, my glasses, my belt, and all my purses and bags are onto the conveyer belt and I walk through the security gate with no beeps, bells, or whistles. My shoes come out, my purse comes out, and my backpack comes out and a man picks it up and hands it to one of the ladies working security. Ah oh again.
I follow her down to the end where she says, “May I look inside?” They are always so polite. Does anyone actually ever say NO to them and then continue to board a plane??? Of course I say yes. A man in uniform comes up and starts talking to her saying things like, “You must take everything out now and inspect it.” With the other things he was saying to her and the questions she was asking, it was quite obviously training for her to become a security officer. I asked if there was a problem, fully expecting them to say “we are training officers for the ramp up to the Olympics” or some such equivalent phrase. Instead, the man looks at me and says to me, Point Blank, “You have some liquid in your bag and do you have a knife or scissors?” Wow, that was unexpected! I assure him that I do not have liquid as it is already on the belt in the little clear plastic bag, nothing over the allowed limits and I do not carry a knife or scissors with me on the plane. He then ignores me totally for the rest of the time I am standing there while the young woman empties each of my compartments and each of my bags and opens my cameras and opens my medicine bottles, and swabs down every camera, and every inch of the bag and piles anything electronic into one tray and everything else into another tray.
I am a careful packer because I do usually travel with a lot of meds (some of the places we go, meds cannot be obtained, even things like aspirin or ibuprofen so it all comes with me) and I travel with a lot of electronics: chargers for my camera and phone batteries, kindle, different cameras and lenses, etc. etc. So she is unpacking a lot and stacking it in the two trays. And through all of this, she is asking the man for instructions and he is giving guidance on almost everything she pulls out of my bag. I am getting more and more irritated by the minute because if they had just said, “Do you mind if we do a training with your bag?” I would have been happy to say sure; I have time, no problem. But the man acted the entire time like he was searching for contraband and I was definitely holding something secretive and illegal in my bag.
She finally gets everything out of my bag and swabs down the entire bag now and picks up the tray with the electronics and carries it and her swab over to the machine which checks the swab for explosive residue. I couldn’t help myself and said to the man, “I knew there weren’t any liquids inside or a knife or scissors was there?” He ignores me. But he went over and did tell her she didn’t have to send my electronics back through the X ray machine and the swab was negative on the residue. The security trainer goes over to the next belt and hauls off some other poor soul’s bag and starts tearing it apart with a young man who is training. The young woman returns with my tray of electronics and my bag and smiles at me and says sheepishly, “Do you want me to repack it?” A resounding NO. There is no way she could get it all back into the proper order so I stand there and take my time repacking so they cannot use their table. Yes, petty and passive aggressive but I felt I had to take some kind of stance on their ability to stand there and lie to me rather than tell me the truth.
Of course, my husband had sailed through his security line and had to stand there and wait for me and our “Fast Track” pass took a bit over ½ hour to get through security. Now my whole trip has started off with a bitter and bad taste in my mouth so we did a quick run through the bookstore to find something to read for takeoff and then to the Business Class Lounge.
We’re flying British Airways and it’s the first time I’ve been in their lounge in Heathrow and it was quite nice but quite crowded. We had a hard time finding seats and only got some when another couple stood up to leave. They had a nice spread of snacks and sandwiches and some pastas and salads and desserts so we had some dinner which of course is stupid because we’re going to get dinner on the plane but we were hungry then. Luckily, I am one of those people who must be at the airport 2 hours or so before my flight so the ½ wait in security didn’t faze us much and we had plenty of time to sit in the lounge and wind down from the nasty experience getting into the departure area.
Finally it is time to go to the plane and we are sitting in the first row but in the middle seats so we are facing each other with a screen between us that we never close. The seats honestly aren’t much wider than the seats we would have in coach but they do go flat which is nice for trying to sleep but I’ve never been able to sleep much on a plane. I did try though after the dinner, which oddly enough, neither one of us seemed to be very hungry to eat it. We’re finally on our way to Africa again.