Anorak News | Heathrow Or Bust

Heathrow Or Bust

by | 4th, June 2004

”HELLO,’ says the familiar voice on the end of the phone. ‘It’s me.’

Six years later, Tony got to the front of the queue

‘Oh, how wonderful! Hello, dear. Well, isn’t that amazing! You only left home this morning and you’re there already.’

‘I only had to take a train and…’

‘A train! Well, I never! Who’d have thought it, a train to Zambia? It’s amazing what they can do these days. And you sound so clear, like you’re only up the road.’

‘That’s because I am; I’m still at Heathrow!’

And so it was and, most likely, still it is for thousands of passengers, as the Times reports on the ‘travel chaos’ that has engulfed British airports.

Gap year students, like our friend on the phone to his mum, found that they needn’t travel all that far to experience destitution, inhumane living conditions and hopelessness as the National Air Traffic Service went off-line.

And travellers stuck at the country’s airports may be there for a while longer yet, as the paper says that the technical glitches that snarled up the flow of planes to and from Blighty yesterday will not be properly fixed until 2011.

After seven years away from home, our adventurous friend would have expected to have seen a lot more of the world than the inside of Terminal 4.

But at least he can busy himself talking to the Telegraph, which can’t have had too much trouble in finding people ready to say how ‘cheesed off’ they are – although one Russian, perhaps more used to queues than is decent, thought it was no big deal.

Our traveller might also like to flick through one of the myriad copies of the Times strewn over sleeping bodies and therein learn that the makeshift camp for migrants he now calls home is due for expansion later this month.

The paper says that baggage handlers and check-in staff are threatening to strike over something called ‘air-traffic issues’.

And Philip Butterworth-Hayes, an expert is such matters for the Jane’s Information Group, says he’s not surprised.

‘A lot of the causes for delays in Europe has to do with the way the British air traffic control is planned,’ says he.

So here’s your chance to get involved and not waste your time in transit. Grab a piece of paper and write down ways in which you think travel could be improved upon.

And to get things off to a flying start, we’ll open up with our suggestions: more palms trees, a swimming pool and a hotel nowhere near a flight path – somewhere close to Gatwick should do it.’

Posted: 4th, June 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink