The Curse of Heathrow Airport

Ask a frequent travel about their favourite airport and they’ll most likely say Changi in Singapore, Dubai International or Incheon in South Korea. Ask them about their least favourite major airport and chances are they will either name Charles de Gaulle in Paris or London Heathrow.

While I’ve had my fair share of unpleasant adventures in Charles de Gaulle, I’m always relieved that it’s not Heathrow. And I say this as one of the lucky people who hasn’t been affected by the numerous strikes that always seem to be taking place at Heathrow.

Many years ago I had the (dis)pleasure of transiting in Heathrow for just under 2 hours on my way from Dubai to Toronto.  Well okay, I really did think it would be only 2 hours like my ticket said. The truth is I spent my first 2 hours at Heathrow still seated in the plane that had arrived from Dubai. It was only after my plane to Toronto had departed that I was allowed to enter the terminal. The combination of rude staff and being told the very best they could do was offer me a 10% discount on a hotel room until a flight the next day was more than enough to convince me to never go back.

That is, until I decided I wanted to visit London. Yes, I know London has another international airport but the cheapest flights were to Heathrow. We landed late due to a busy runway but since I didn’t have a connecting flight this time round I wasn’t too bothered. On the way home though, Heathrow’s affinity for tardiness did indeed get in the way of my plans.

I had a boarding pass that said I was to be at my gate at 7.10am. Of course, the screens said they would not announce my gate number before 7.25am. Not that it mattered. My flight scheduled to leave at 8.25am didn’t actually leave till 2 hours later. So I had plenty of time to look at Heathrow’s slogan, ‘Making every journey better’. I’m still not sure if it was an attempt to be funny.

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Needless to say, when you leave 2 hours late, you will not be able to catch a connecting flight that is supposed to leave 1.5 hours after your original landing time. Luckily, Muscat Airport is a better place to transit than Heathrow, and they had a new boarding pass ready for me when I landed.  The only catch was that I had to be at the gate within 10 minutes. And so I ran as fast as I could through the entire airport, following the direction of the airport staff screams of ‘Dubai Dubai, gate is closing’.  Aside from learning that Heathrow Airport will always cause trouble, I also learned that while not wearing a belt will save you time at security, it will do the opposite when you are running as fast as you can.

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