Thursday, February 16, 2006

Flying to Georgia (the country)

This trip began with a very long series of flights: DC to London, London to Munich, Munich to Tbilisi. There were no serious problems on any of the flights, but so many layovers and such long flights is exhausting. I’m sure that this isn’t the first time I’ve griped about Heathrow Airport, and I’m equally sure that there are many who would point out its finer features, but I really don’t like it. It is a huge shopping mall full of bad pop music and jangling food noises. The gates are absolutely secondary to the place, so much so that you could easily miss them amid the noisy advertisements and myriad duty free and cashmere and luggage and food shops.

My biggest pet peeve about Heathrow is that they don’t post the gate for the flights until the last minute, just before it boards. So everyone waits, glancing periodically at the monitors, until suddenly there it is. If you watch consistently, it doesn’t appear, much like the proverbial watched pot. So the monitor secretly announced “Gate 42”, all the way through the gauntlet of shops and down this corridor or that one, a five minute walk, we are notified by the sign on the wall, but it seems like a race against the clock, which it can be if you don’t look at the monitor at just the right time. “Boarding” it reads.

To eat or not to eat? Who knows what the mysterious “snack” on the plane will be, or if the “dinner” will be edible. Eating at the airport passes the time on a layover, but in Heathrow, that requires that you leave the precious monitors.

Anyway. I arrived, short one bag but safely nonetheless. The food was terrible and the child in front of me was noisy, but I arrived.

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