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Hello from London. Yes, I managed to pick August 10th as the date for a planned trip to the UK.

By Andrew Pollack on 08/11/2006 at 11:42 AM EDT

I'm here in Gab Davis's offices in London. While we're waiting for a download, I thought I'd talk about the trip. I'd left the house at 0400 on Thursday without catching the news and listened to an audio book for the drive. My first indication of any problem was walking through the pedestrian walkway from central parking to the international terminal in Boston and seeing a bunch of video remote vans in the parking area. I assumed some politician was on the way into town and would cause me a delay. A few minutes later at the British Airways bag check, a clerk asked another "Are we allowing them to take backpacks now?" while pointing to my laptop bag. It wasn't until then that I realized something was up.

They did let me keep the backpack and get in line. The line was long but not insane. It did not move, however, and became insane quickly. 10 minutes after I got in line at about 6am, the line was gone around the corner behind me. I heard later it went outside the terminal. The rule came out that nothing "liquid, gell, or paste" was to be allowed on the plane. I had none of these with me so was fine. It did take about 90 minutes to get through, and my bag was checked extremely well. The line didn't go for a long time, but after a bit the security people seemed to get a handled on all the implications of the new rules and honestly it wasn't too bad.

By the time I cleared security, I was about to board the plane. I took my seat and waited about an hour past the expected take off time while the rest of the passengers cleared. The flight was very nice, though the pilot was a bit jingoistic in his declaration at the beginning and end about the flight being a "triumph over adversity" -- the man quoted Churchill.

On arrival, Heathrow terminal four was a quiet as I've ever seen. There was not a single person in passport control ahead of us "fast walking" types, and baggage was less than 10 minutes. There were a couple of other flights in the baggage claim. I took the train over to terminal 3 where I could catch the "Hotel Hoppa" shuttle. Terminal 3 was crowded as always, but perhaps less productively. On the shuttle I heard from one couple who had left Zagreb on the way to Canada early that morning with their child (who looked to be about 18 months). In Zagreb they'd been asked to turn over their hand baggage and hadn't seen it since. In the confusion, they had left their credit cards and wallet in the bag. They had not been allowed to leave the secure area to go back to the bag check to get it back. Fortunately, the man had a good bit of cash on him for his trip.

Now I'm here and enjoying good company and good work. The flight back on Monday may be a bit more tricky. It looks like I may well have to check through the laptop and everything else, spending 7 hours on a plane without my toys. I'm not worried about the equipment -- I've got room to put the whole padded laptop case inside my suitcase. I'll snap a couple of pictures of the contents and email them to myself ahead of time in case of theft or damage but it should go fine.

I'll let you know how the return trip goes (I hope) on Tuesday.


There are  - loading -  comments....

My own thoughts on this are...By Wild Bill on 08/11/2006 at 03:04 PM EDT
Wow - glad you made it over unscathed!

Good luck on the return trip

---* Bill


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