Heathrow, United Kingdom
51° 28' N 0° 26' W
Aug 24, 2009 08:40
Distance 9683km

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Text written in: English

Return to London Heathrow

I have often explained how I do not sleep well in the cramped conditions of economy class.  Instead I have learnt to live within my small living space.  I had a couple of drinks, watched two movies on the main screen and read ‘The Independent’ (Saturday edition, London) from cover to cover.  It was good to update of British news as opposed to reading about crime and corruption in the South African papers!  As usual I got up about once an hour to stretch my legs and use the facilities.  Our route took us up past Walvis Bay, Namibia.  It’s hard to believe it took the RMS three nights to get here from Cape Town!  Anyway we pressed on north through Nigeria and eventually leaving Africa via the Algerian coast.  Living in an enclosed space in darkness at 40,000ft, travelling at 550mph, with the outside temperature at -50 degrees centigrade, gave one time to think.  This was only interrupted by the potential swine flu carriers coughing and sneezing within feet of my location.  Well at least you can’t see the bugs in the dark! 

At around 0500hrs (South African time – one hour ahead of the UK) the cabin lights returned and we were served breakfast.  I ended up having three as even though Erin & Ailsa had slept well they were still half asleep.  Eating three cooked meals was a mistake was a little over the top but I don’t like to see food wasted.  We finally touched down at London Heathrow at 0615hrs. 

The new enhanced security at London Heathrow is something to behold.  First of all, after a long walk following ‘Flight Connection’ signs, we proceeded through immigration.  We were fortunate to be in the EU queue (Flight Connection route) as this was quite short.  All other queues were long.  Once we passed immigration we proceeded to have biometric photographs taken and a bar code was stuck on our passports.  Next we passed a desk reminding us of the 100ml rule for liquids at security.  We drank all our juice and water (even though it had been acquired either on the aircraft or in the duty free area at Cape Town departures).  I actually saw a passenger dispose of his duty free because he was not allowed to take it through security.  This would apply equally to alcohol or perfume (over 100mls).  Next a longish queue to pass security – the usual everything off, laptops out.  I passed but a dangerous suspect called Ailsa failed and had to be body searched!   

We passed into the departures lounge at terminal one and had a short while to regroup before proceeding to our boarding gate.  The final test was producing boarding passes and passports near the departure gate, where the member of staff matched documents with the biometric photo taken earlier.  Whilst these procedures are comprehensive they are a pain.  Long gone are the days when you could arrive on one aircraft at a certain time and make a connection thirty minutes later.  The necessity of early check in and leaving time for security make me long for the simplicity of the RMS and a voyage by sea!

Photos / videos of "Return to London Heathrow":

The Burnett's onboard South African Airways Flight SA220 en route from Cape Town to London Heathrow.