Hotdish

I was going to title this post “Potpourri” since the second definition as “a miscellaneous collection” was appropriate.   However, I then realized that my midwestern sensibilities would be more appropriately represented by the term hotdish, which is also a pretty miscellaneous collection of ingredients thrown together and stirred.  That’s about all I’m capable of right now, no gourmet cooking.  I’ve been so busy that I’ve run out of clean silverware for the second time in the last few months.  I’m right now drinking coffee in which the milk was stirred in with a fork.  Fortunately, today is Saturday and my catch-up day.  This will be a hotdish of work, laundry, dishes, errands, and yes, a few happy minutes blogging.  It’s always clear I’m busy when nothing gets written for a while.

Big news this week was that Heathrow Terminal 4 messed up its baggage handling system and caused chaos.  Or really, that should have been big news but it somehow didn’t seem to rate in the British media.  The story was buried on the “UK” page of the BBC.   I have to guess that that’s because the problem was just a computer glitch, not terrorist activity.  But the way that BA and the BAA chose to handle it was nothing short of bizarre.  I know because I got a first hand account from a friend who got caught in the chaos.  He arrived at Heathrow after having checked in online only to be told he could not check his bag and his options were to re-book for another day or ship the bag.  He chose the latter, but stood in line for more than 90 minutes to get it sorted out and was a very unhappy traveler.  I was aghast for several reasons:

  1. there was no notification in advance.  I’m sorry, when you do online check-in and the baggage system is down, it should tell you this when it asks you how many bags you have to check!
  2. BA/BAA didn’t help with the alternative arrangements.  The 90 minute line was for the excess baggage company kiosk, who did not have enough staff on to handle the problem.
  3. The thing was completely classist.  If you were travelling first or business class, they would still take your checked bags.  The restriction was only for the cheaper tickets.
  4. How is there no back-up system in place?  If a computer goes down, the entire system just stops?  There’s no mechanism for bringing in extra staff and doing a manual, Ryan-air style system?

It makes me scared for the upcoming T5 opening.  One can imagine that this is even more reliant on computer systems, and that in the switchover there is an even greater likelihood of bugs in the system.  Thus perhaps I’m no longer so glad that Northwest has switched the direct Minneapolis flights to Heathrow from Gatwick!

I recently had the opportunity to see the Archbishop of Canterbury speak in person, which was very interesting.  I was very impressed with his speaking style although I certainly did not agree with everything he said.  At least the calls for his head seem to have died down after the recent furor, and he can go back to the business of leading the Anglican church.  He used one of my favorite words that I don’t remember hearing in the states, “natter“.

An interesting article here suggests that Britain is in a loop of despair from which it will be hard to recover.   The fact that the manufacturing infrastructure has more-or-less completely disappeared is a real problem for small businesses trying to make their mark.

The fake British citizenship quiz here (date of 21 Feb.) is priceless.

That’s it, time to get back to the coal face.  Happy Saturday, can you believe Feb. 2008 is almost over?

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5 responses to “Hotdish

  1. Stateside, we definitely natter. Just Google “nattering nabobs of negativism” to get the 411.

  2. NFAH: I am a frequent flier on BA but since I never get past the Blue (I pay my own tickets so no first class flying…) I am not a great friend of theirs. But a minor point is that bags are handled by BAA, not BA. The fact that BA’s bags collectively outnumber all others means that the probability of their getting lost is also higher.

    In T5, which one of the TP cohorts in my faculty visited last year, many problems are likely to be reduced by removing human involvement and reducing BAA’s intrusion. They had very interesting observations to make about the changes being made and BA has been slowly rolling them out to the customers anyway (such as buying tickets from BA, online checkin which some 70% flying BA now do). So there will be no surprises and yes, a surprise might be fewer lost bags.

    Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow when we can natter over whether this state of gloom in Britain is a new problem or a national temperament issue in general 😉

  3. Aw, Jen beat me to it. Two words- Spiro Agnew. I am so old I actually remember the day of the speech.

  4. Pingback: British News Tidbits « Not From Around Here

  5. Pingback: Another bad week to travel from London « Not From Around Here

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