Travel Writing

How long do you think it takes to get from London to Edinburgh and back?

Well, try this.  Depart the office at 5pm sharp on Thursday afternoon and head to the Underground and the Circle line to Victoria.  I make Victoria without incident and purchase a cheap single to Gatwick Airport.  Luckily there is a train leaving as I get to the platform and I manage to get a seat.  Thirty minutes later I alight at Gatwock Aiport and make my way up to the departures lounge.  I check in – the only person at the counter – and make my way down to security.  Always a bottleneck, I spend 20 minutes in the queue slowly removing my belt, shoes, watch, cell phone, keys.

As I get to the front of the queue I remember I have all of Daniel’s mushed food in my bag.  And not in a clear plastic bag.  Doh!  They immediately get picked out in the X-ray scan and my bag gets pulled aside.  My bag is searched and swabbed for high explosives by a cheerful little man chattering away, his conversation inspired by each item pulled from the bag.

“Ooh, a toothbrush – so have you got any fillings? I have none. A Bible?  Are you into religion?  I have an aunt who goes to church. Hmmm, more baby food.  I’ll have to bin that, you know? So what have you got? A boy?”

“Yes, and he’s going to go hungry now that you’ve tossed all his food in the bin.”

Forgetting things like a clear plastic bag costing a few pence and having to throw away £10 worth of food really grates me.  It’s my own stupidity that’s costing me but the idea that a piece of polythene a few molecules thick is going to stop the explosive device in the mashed organic salmon and spinach leaves me fuming.

The security man did suggest that I rejoin the queue after getting a bag at the counter but then I would miss my flight so unfortunately I had to bow to the rules and throw the food in the bin.

As I walked out into the departure lounge I noticed that my flight was delayed by two hours.


Easyjet did take some steps to compensate us for the extreme inconvenience and provided each passenger from each of the flights with a £3 food voucher.  Three pounds!  I know back in the 1700s this would have fed a family of ten for a year but this is 21st century London.  I even had to pay 80p to get my McMeal for £3.79 (the cheapest meal in the entire departure hall apart from the food in WH Smith where the vouchers were not acceptable) which kept me going until 11pm when the flight eventually left.

We arrived in Edinburgh just after midnight.  The lady next to me with her 18 month old girl had been travelling from Spain since the early morning and was having to go on to Dundee.  How the little girl managed to stay awake the whole time, I don’t know.  It might have had something to do with the frequent sips of “jus” from a Fanta bottle.  Now I was only four hours late to pick up my hire carand walked without much hope to pick it up.  To my surprise the rental shop was open.  I suppose I should not have been surprised when they slapped on a £35 administration fee for handling the paperwork after hours.  They did give us a new Vauxhall Insigna which was an improvement on the Ford Ka we had asked for.  So, I eventually arrived in the flat in Edinburgh 8 hours after I left London.  I could have driven to Edinburgh in the same time.

Moral of the story – budget airlines are not really worth it.  I would certainly pay the BA premium and fly on time and get a meal and have a shorter walk to the baggage carousel.

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