the world's smartest travel social network
In celebration of national Day here in the UAE we had a short holiday, so we decided to take a quick jaunt to London. I had never been there, and I am a history fanatic, where better than London!
I always fly Qatar Airways. Qatar flies into Heathrow. I did nor know anything about this airport, or i would have taken a different carrier and avoided this miserable excuse for an international airport.
We arrived at Heathrow airport about noon. TWO HOURS later we were finally through immigration. Terminal 4 at Heathrow is where most of the truly foreign carriers arrive. BA and US carriers land at the other terminals. Heathrow terminal 4 is not a friendly nor an attractive place. Long walks without any people movers. Missing ceiling panels expose crude neon lighting. Poor signage which even in English left you wondering if the last 1/4 mile hike had been in the wrong direction. Then, we got to the immigration line. There were 35 booths available for use. Two or three were occupied. The officials would show up, process two or three people, then go away. Another might show up a few minutes later, then one of them would go back to their break room and presumably have tea and crumpets. I have been in immigration lines all over the world now and this truly was the rudest experience I have ever had. They profile everyone with questions starting with
“Why are you here?
“I am beginning to wonder that myself.”
“How long will you be here?”
“I have already spent half my holiday in this fookin line.”
“Where are you going after you leave?”
“Someplace that respects tourists.”
I am not kidding, this was almost verbatim what went down with me in my session at the desk. When I had the stamp in my passport I told the guy;
“I don’t see how you expect to handle the Olympics. People are going to be pole vaulting your booths in protest.”
He didn’t much like that and said “It takes 2 1/2 hours for me to get through JFK immigration.”
I mumbled something about payback being a bitch and walked away.
Coincidentally, as I write this on the 30th of November, England is experiencing a general strike against pension reforms imposed on workers in the public sector. That includes the immigration people. The tabloids in London were predicting 12 hour queues at the immigration lines. However, I have been watchng Sky News out of London. The government has called out the army to man the desks, and to quote one airport manager “the lines are moving faster than normal.” Not a very high bar to pass, but ironic none the less.
After that we had a wonderful time in London, I will post a few blogs soon. In short; London YES!, Heathrow NO!