mingmerciless (mingmerciless) wrote,

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Escape From Heathrow

Short version: despite the snow and chaos at Heathrow, aeshna_uk and I actually got to KL without too much trouble.

I must admit that when aeshna_uk and I set out for Heathrow on Monday, I was steeling myself for the worst. Both the BAA and EgyptAir sites said the flight to Cairo was scheduled to leave on time but I had my doubts. These were not improved by all the people we saw crashed out on the floor in the tunnels coming as we exited from the Heathrow Express. Then we saw the crowds trying to get into Terminal 3...

After some loitering around we worked out from others in the crowd that the airport staff, supported by some CSOs, were only letting in people who were flying that day which was fine for us, in theory. Only, there were lots of people who insisted on hanging around the entrance anyway, still hoping somehow to get in. This of course meant that getting to the front so we could get in was a long and painful process. It wasn't helped by what seemed like a large number of African women who seemed to think that because *they* wanted to get to the front, the rest of us were supposed to make way for them and somehow find non-existent space to move into to let them pass. I must admit, sharp words were exchanged and I came moderately close to decking at least one of them.

Still, we made it in eventually, after out personal version of Zentimeterkrieg. I was slightly gratified to then see one of the CSOs berating one of the pushy women, telling her she'd been told several times that only people with flights that day could enter and he was going to have her detained if she didn't leave!

Have to say, overall, BAA's handling of the situation was utter shite. It makes sense they wanted to restrict entry into the terminal due to crowding but the staff just stood in the entrance and checked details for anyone who made it to the front. No effort whatsoever to ask people not flying that day to leave, let alone anything more active. What a load of crap! May have to write them a snotty note or maybe even set up a Facebook group...

Once we got in, after a little over an hour or so's struggle, we then saw a huge crowd at the check-in desk. Much to our surprise, a few people who had clearly been there a long time asked if we were flying that day and then ushered us to the front, telling us to hurry. Got to respect that.

We checked in surprisingly quickly, rushed through security checks and headed straight to the gate. This is the only time where I've seen passengers applaud an announcement that there would be a further 15 minute delay in boarding for a flight already minutes or so late! Likewise, when the plane took off after an hour on the runway, we cheered and applauded again! Alas, despite feeling severely in need of a stiff drink, EgyptAir doesn't do alcohol...

As we were close on 2 hours later in taking off, Cairo must be the quickest transit I've ever done - rushed straight for the connecting flight to KL and we were pretty much the last on the plane. Rest of the flight was pretty straightforward, bar discovering the aerotrain connecting the international terminal with the arrival hall at KLIA had been replaced by a bus while undergoing servicing.

With the benefit of hindsight, the whole thing was rather made me think of the fall of Saigon, people thronging desperately at the gates, looking for any flight out. And yet, as it happened, bar the scrum to get into T3, for us personally, it really wasn't too bad in the end. I've certainly suffered much longer flight delays. I guess we were just incredibly lucky that our flight was on the first day Heathrow was properly getting back into action and that EgyptAir had decided to give priority to passengers booked to fly that day. As my sister said years ago "You got one luck ass..."

Rather less traumatically, we've had a relaxed few days in KL, doing some last minute Christmas shopping and getting re-acquainted with the dogs and with Malaysian food, particularly cendol for aeshna_uk. Got extended family Christmas dinners coming up then down to Singapore for niece's Birthday, then to Melaka for a few days of history geekery. That's about as far as plans go right now, bar a visit to Central Market for a session with the Doctor Fish (mother's still horrified by the notion of us sticking our feet in water for fish to nibble at!).

Just hope the snow's cleared up by the time we get back...
Tags: malaysia, weather

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