Rant from ‘home’

I’m back in the UK now, having survived a mildly unpleasant flight back from the US (I just could not sleep, something was odd with the normally quite good Indian vegetarian food, and it was one of the old fashioned, not-on-demand movie systems that plays a movie every 2.5 hours thus making it difficult to catch an entire film once).  I then had the far more unpleasant experience of coming into Heathrow on the long-haul overnight flight only to have them park the plane in the middle of a tarmac, make us walk down stairs and onto buses, and then get transported back to the terminal building.  I know Heathrow is undergoing major renovations right now, but I still find this outrageous.  Yes it’s expected behavior when you get off an EasyJet flight from Munich at Stansted, but not coming off a long-haul flight at the “flagship” London airport with the “flagship” national carrier, BA.  Sigh.

Furthermore, I ran out of reading material once they turned the dumb movies off, and was glancing at the continual bleating about climate change and carbon burdens in the back of the BA magazine.  Here’s an idea: reduce your carbon burden by not making every single flight circle London for 20 minutes before landing at Heathrow!  Just think of the fuel saved.  It’s not just me, right?  I may do a bit more long-haul flying than the average consumer, but in the years since I have been travelling between London and the US regularly, I don’t know that I have EVER been on a flight that did not circle over London for a significant period of time before landing.  Sometimes you can even watch the loops on the moving map image.  Always the pilot comes on with the same droning voice about how we’re in a holding pattern for landing at Heathrow.  It actually makes me start to wonder if the additional runway might be justifiable on environmental grounds–not exactly an argument I’ve heard before.   (For an interesting take on current environmental politics and policy see this from Slate on Friedman’s new book.  Why IS it that the environmental crusaders live in palaces_ALGORE_?)

That’s the news from UK-home, which is that I have arrived, I’m cranky, the movies I saw in both directions on this trip had only some mildly redeeming qualities, one more than the other, and my nose is still sniffly which might indicate the start of a cold instead of allergies.  And of course, with the CERN beast launching tomorrow, in search of the likely non-existent Higgs boson, there is at least some possibility that we are all going to go up in a puff of smoke.  In which case, why did I leave America yesterday?  I could have lived out my last 48 hours in peace and happiness without long-haul air misery or the need to open two weeks worth of mail and buy all new groceries…


7 responses to “Rant from ‘home’

  1. I saw this quote from Richard Branson (here: http://blogs.usatoday.com/sky/2008/09/va.html) and laughed:

    Branson was on the flight, with New York’s Newsday saying he “took time out from hanging with ‘Entourage’ cast members” to tell the paper “the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is not to fly at all. But that’s not realistic. You can’t walk to England.”

    Seriously, this is an honest question, do people in America worry about their carbon footprint when they fly? Or think about offsetting? I feel like these are things I have only heard much about in the UK, so I can imagine Branson’s comment falling like a rock to a stupified American audience…

  2. Pingback: It’s fall in England! « Not From Around Here

  3. Heathrow operates so close to capacity that it relies on aircraft being in the stacks ready to land so that landing slots are not wasted. This is partly a noise issue – they use one runway for landings and the other for takeoff. I don’t think ATC is yet sophisticated enough to tell aircraft half way across the atlantic to slow to the right speed so they all arrive in sequence (merging these with aircraft arriving from Europe too).

  4. I watched Made of Honor on my flight too! It was not nearly as good as my other film, Kung Fu Panda, but I kept going for all the Scottish scenery. It takes me longer every year to deal with the jet lag – you are definitely not alone.

  5. http://lhr.webtrak-lochard.com/template/index.html shows the tracks of aircraft taking off and landing at Heathrow. Hours of endless fun…

  6. I’m having a bad morning for things not working–I get a “this does not work with your browser” message and instructions that for Mac I should install Opera! I’m already running both Safari and Camino and am a bit hesitant to add yet another thing.

  7. > making every single flight circle London for 20 minutes before landing at Heathrow!

    Could it be that your plane was favoured by tail-winds that enabled it to arrive above Heathrow twenty minutes before it was scheduled to do so? Perhaps it was lucky enough to surf on the North Atlantic Jetstream. If that were the case, it would be most unfair of it to queue-jump and take the place of planes that were arriving exactly as planned, or those that had been delayed by head-winds and were lower on fuel than yours was.

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