The Economist (purchased at WHSmith) on the joys of Heathrow:
The airport is meant to accommodate about 45m people a year, yet it now squeezes 68m souls through its groaning gates. Airlines grumble about BAA's investment priorities: instead of expanding waiting areas and pressing for permission to add runways, BAA seems intent on building shopping malls more geared to separating travellers from their money than speeding them to their flights.
While in Ghana, I was slightly dismayed to find that while our British Airways flight back to London would arrive around 5:30 AM local time, my flight to Boston would not be leaving until 7:30 PM. Not having an entry visa for the United Kingdom, this means I would have to spend 14 hours trapped in Terminal D. The following is an edited version of a list I wrote at 11:32.
- sit near a Departures screen and have people repeatedly come up and stand directly in front of you
- fall asleep on a bench, clutching your bag
- be woken up whether one of the nearby gates' alarms off (because someone left open the door to the jet bridge, or because the alarm felt like going off randomly), or when an old person who cannot walk to their gate is being ferried about in a beeping golf cart (which, despite being driven by old airport employees, travel fast enough to run you down if you are in their way), or when a child talks in a high-pitched British accent about their stuffed koala
- permanently wake up, and go walking
- listen to flight attendants talk about their love lives
- run into a friend from Harvard (his trademark Frappuccino in hand; "US gift cards work here," he says) who is going back to Boston on an earlier flight; consider stealing his boarding pass before realizing that there is no way that BA staff would believe your name is Wu without identification
- stare at cute girl sitting across from you, and wonder if she is smiling slyly at you
- switch seats
- listen to early 20s American male talk about presidental campaign work he is doing in Virginia; seem interested until you realize that he is both Republican and pretentious; as you ignore him, you see the cute girl nod, as if in approval
- wake up, and realize that you did not actually wake up and go walking...
- go walking the length of the terminal in order to see the remaining members of your family leave; you are now alone in the airport
- walk the length of the terminal again to find the one WHSmith's (there are at least six in the terminal) which sold the notebook you are writing in in order to find an overpriced (£3) pen
- consider using a secure Internet kiosk, but realize that it is probably too locked down to provide generativity
- watch an Iran Air plane take off while the BBC talks about British naval personnel
- continue waiting down the hours