Saturday, February 24, 2007

Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn

If ever the government want to take global warming seriously and discourage people from flying can I suggest that they make all airports like Terminal 3 at Heathrow? If ever anyone doubted the need for Terminal 5...

I'm not surprised Richard Branson complains about the small corner of Terminal 3 Virgin are tucked away in. Thank God I arrived in good time. If i had arrived twenty minutes later I'd have been in a queue which was double the size of the one I joined. Checking in online was my first mistake. So had everyone else. The queue for normal checking in was quite short in comparison. To Virgin's credit they had a big sign up slagging off the Chancellor's Airport Duty Tax rise. It ended up with a very sarcastic "We can't wait to see how the Chancellor will spend the money..."

I asked if an exit seat was available rather than the seat by the loo I had been allocated. To my utter surprise and delight one was free. Then came the sting in the tail - Virgin now charge an extra £50 for an exit seat. The moths have never flown off my wallet so quickly.

So, having dropped off my suitcase (overweight by 4kg... but I was let off) I then made my way to the departure gate - another 300 yard long queue. Oh the joy of air travel.

And so ladies and gentlemen, I bid you farewell for the rest of the day. Think of me at 4.50pm as I am stuck over the Atlantic, heading for the land of the free, not knowing if West Ham have beaten Charlton. As I am in the cheap seats I doubt whether the pilot will keep me informed!

PS I bought an iPod in duty free having not been able to find it last night. The nice people at Dixon's are charging it up for me as I type this. Lord Kalms will be pleased.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope you're well-lubed for your reception by those friendly and welcoming American immigration chaps.

Adam said...

Run for the immigration lines as soon as you get out of the plane, Iain. Even if there's already a bunch of people there from other planes, you'll still be saving yourself time. Last time I came over, I was 2 hours queuing at immigration (but people who didn't run were half an hour more).

It's not going to be warm in DC, but it'll be a lot warmer than it is here, six hours' driving further North.

achilles said...

what sort of iPod did you buy?

I recently bought a 2GB Nano but am already aware that I will run out of storage.

Cato, author of toryheaven.blogspot.com said...

You really are an ipod addict Mr Dale! But won't the ipod have nothing on its hard drive ....?

G Eagle Esq said...

Sehr geEhrter Iain

Come back, all is forgiven

Your obedient servant etc

G E

achilles said...

Cato,

As soon as you plug it into your laptop through your usb port, iTunes will "feed" your iPod with everything that is stored on your Laptop's hard drive. Hence - no problemo...

Achilles (a recent iPod discoverer)

jailhouselawyer said...

Eight hours without a fag, that's cruel and unusual punishment. Watch out for the CIA, you might end up in Guantanamo Bay. Mind you, an orange uniform might suit you!

delroy said...

That's very Tory - I must go to America so the little people around Heathrow must have a new terminal to inconvenience them but make things easier for me.
Well done Iain.

Anonymous said...

Exit seat?? Whats that? Dont Virgin check you in whilst still in the Limo???

Anonymous said...

I think you must have turned right when you first entered the plane. Turn left or if you are slumming it then upstairs.

I thought that is wheer they kept the bags.

Anonymous said...

Adam

Are you john Kettly? I claim my 5 pounds

Roger Thornhill said...

We do not need a T5, but we do need a brand new airport in the Thames Eastury built, as HK airport has been, on an artifical island.

Great for terrorism protection. New high speed line into central London can be built and they may as well clone the layout of HK airport too, including the magnificent way you step out to the arrivals area and see the trains waitng to whisk you away.

Once it is built, Heathrow Airport can become housing complete with ready-made transport links.

verity said...

Delroy - My thought, exactly. And has Iain just noticed that Heathrow is hell on stilts?

People who don't fly much think everyone will be interested in the their experience.

I have a tip for people going to India. I used to go regularly, originating at Houston, and I finally twigged that if I didn't go through the Middle East but went across the Pacific, I didn't get debilitating jetlag. Book a round the world ticket and fly home through the ME. If you keep flying West and follow the sun, you will not get jet lag.

World of Jack said...

A shocking smear. Gordon spends our money wisely.

Londontory said...

the little people around Heathrow must have a new terminal to inconvenience them

You mean the little people who choose to live round there because it's cheap? When Heathrow was built it was in the countryside.

Londontory said...

Also, given that lots of the local population work at Heathrow I'm not sure they would be impressed if in Delroy's socialist utopia one of the UK's world-leading industries suddenly disappeared.

I suppose the collective farm could probably find them a job somewhere.

Man in a shed said...

Give my love to US Immigration and Customs - adam is right - make a run for it. ( Thats what the GBP50 for being next to the exit is really for ;-) ).

Washington was OK the many years ago that I used to travel in, but LAX immigration this Jan was a complete disgrace.

Nicholas Bennett said...

Iain

Check out the price of that ipod when you reach the States.

Two years ago I bought a digital camera in the UK and found on visiting Wal-Mart that I could have bought the same camera for the same price in dollars.

Adam said...

Alas, it didn't turn out so well for the Hammers.

Hopefully US customs officers won't do to you what Charlton just did to us.

garypowell said...

As you mention Richard Branson you can read this rant.

One of his state sponored and subsidised trains fell off the track last night. Killing one person and injuring many.

None had seat belts and all are allowed to walk about on the train at their will. Unlike my own personal car where I have to have working seat belts and am legaly responsible for my passengers well being and behavior.

Very shortly after the accident we are treated with lots of sympathetic coverage for this corporate giant on our nazi loving fascist BBC.

He is reported on the BBC as saying that "it was the fault of the track and not the train."

How the BUGGER does he know not even 24 hours after the incident. Whats worse is why did the BBC not make this point to him? Why also does Richard Branson feel that he has the confidence to make such a statement, without the BBC contradicting him.

Could it be that he is a doner to the New Labour party and gets massive pubic subsidy for his accident prone "services?"

An obvious point which is never made is why do buses not have seat belts like they do for example in Hong Kong. Why are people allowed to stand up in buses when it is moving?

Because they are state run or subsidised. Therefore the government does not give a shit about your safty when it may cost them money.

Anonymous said...

I hope your visit to the US is better than the Westham result.

Adam said...

nicholas: the difference on iPods isn't so big at the moment (at least, not last time I checked, in December), from UK to the US (although it is cheaper in the US). Some other stuff, though, is waaaaay cheaper still; mac laptops, etc. You don't want the UK customs to work it out, though.

verity said...

Just about everything's much cheaper in the US. Britain is a rip-off. And groceries in the US are much cheaper, too.

Londontory said...

Britain is mainly a rip-off because our land is not used very efficiently. Most of our land is kept unused (we actually pay people not to use the land in the most efficient way). The state prevents people from building houses and transport infrastructure meaning that housing costs are huge and things take much longer to get from factory to customer than they should.

delroy said...

Londontory said...
Also, given that lots of the local population work at Heathrow I'm not sure they would be impressed if in Delroy's socialist utopia
3:10 PM

You've got me wrong LondonTory.
I'm English living in England; never been near a socialist utopia in my life.
Started voting when Ted Heath was PM and it has been Conservative here ever since, but let's preserve this world leading industry because we have destroyed all the others.

Indigo said...

America is not the land of the free any more.

Londontory said...

Delroy: So you are pro-aviation but anti-Heathrow expansion? That means you must support a new Kent or Essex airport then.

garypowell said...

delroy
Which history books have you been reading.

We have never lead anything with state run industries. With the possible exception of the royal navy. Even that was run more like private enterprise.

Perhaps you are refuring to the Motor cycle, steel, coal mineing, ship building, and transport industries. If you are maybe you would have liked a job fucking up you lungs half a mile under ground? If not shut up and get a new history book.

These industries did not produce any wealth for this country all the time they were state run. They also provided crap wages and conditions for their employees.

This countries wealth has been produced and is maintained in most part by the city of London. Using capital and expertise created well before Marxism had ever been inflicted on the working man.

Letterman said...

i just came back the other way - though from the liberal haven of Vermont not the seething powerhousse of DC. Have fun Dale.

Adam said...

Verity, the biggest single reason that the US seems so cheap now is that the dollar is in the toilet, because the markets don't think that it is worth much. Yes, things are always cheaper here, but that margin has been significantly increased by the pound's strength against the dollar, which over the last 6 or so years has meant that a British person with a fixed amount of dough has something like 40% more spending power here than before.

Fortunately, US sales taxes (which are levied by states, so vary from 0% to over 8%) are lower than VAT but bear in mind that, unlike UK prices which are generally quoted VAT inclusive, US prices are quoted without the tax, which is added at the register.

Britain, however, is damn expensive compared to the rest of Europe; if it shared borders with other countries inside the same trade zone, one presumes that there would be more pressure on prices, but as it is, it's pretty much a market to itself and less competition means higher prices.

garypowell said...

London tory

You make very valid points.

However I think more important reasons would be.

Buying power is far stronger for larger companies selling to a population 5 times greater then ours with much more disposable income. This because we are so highly taxed.

Rates are cheaper or almost non exsistant in the US.

Tax on wages is far higher in Britain.

Regulation which is another form of taxation, is greater more intrusive and more costly to an employer then the US. Have you ever tried sacking someone in Britian without ending up in court? I tried and failed. Even though I won the case it still cost me £20,000 in legel fees.

NI tax does not exsist in the US.

Tax on fuel and transport is far far higher in Britain.

Tax on profits is higher in Britain. Gordons Stazi believe me mean business. Even though they have no idear how to run one. The IRS in the US is a kitten compared to our VAT and tax inspectors. Unless you are a multi-national lining New Labours pockets that is.

Sales tax is far higher in Britain. Compared to some states, far far higher.

In short its taxes. Unfortuately the British public dont seen to understand as yet that the consumer, which is all of us, in the end pays ALL taxes one way or another.

Its a shame that so called educated people cant work out what our middle ages counterparts worked out 900 odd years ago.

Come to think about it so had our parents who voted for Thatcher only 28 years ago.

Memory can be a very short thing, and common sense is regretibly not commom..

delroy said...

garypowell said...
delroy
Which history books have you been reading.
If you are maybe you would have liked a job fucking up you lungs half a mile under ground? If not shut up and get a new history book.

These industries did not produce any wealth for this country all the time they were state run. They also provided crap wages and conditions for their employees.
7:22 PM

Thanks for your thoughtful, precise insights GazzaP.
I do read history books but my period is Late Iron Age. Post WW2 I have lived through.
I'm not convinced it is necessary to want your lungs blown to be a miner, and the wages and conditions were so bad they fought hard to keep their jobs.
The Tory problem is that they need me to vote for them. I hear nothing that makes me need them however appalling this government is.

delroy said...

Londontory said...
Delroy: So you are pro-aviation but anti-Heathrow expansion? That means you must support a new Kent or Essex airport then.

7:15 PM

I am? It does?
You assume a lot LT from a few words.

Anonymous said...

At least we can console our selves that you are enduring some real pain for being a 'climate criminal'...

Andrew Ian said...

Iain, I am surprised. I got to the Virgin desk a weeks ago in good time and didn't stand in a log queue at all having checked-in online. I think you just got your timing wrong or something.

Oh btw New Hampshire was friendly and fun but rather cold...-2C in the middle of the day in full sunshine.

wonderfulforhisage said...

Now here's an interesting fact. My aged wife and I no longer choose where we will holiday, rather we choose the airport of our departure.

Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead and Luton are not on our list although all are within reasonable driving distance.

So we investigate to where we can fly from Birmingham or Coventry (both about the same distance from us as Heathrow ) and then plan our hols.

Mind you, at our advanced age, when somebody asks "Where are you going on holiday this year" it's sometimes rather difficult to remember where it is that is 'beyond' Birmingham on Coventry.

On the other hand last time we flew from Birmingham there was NO queue at check in or at security. Bliss.

Can't remember where we were going, so please don't ask.

Anyway, I'm not going to America again until they close down that offshore torture prison in Cuba.

Still, since it's offshore, I suppose Bush and his cohorts can (technically) rabbit on about 'the land of the free'.

Talking about rabbiting on........

.....sorry must close, nurse has just arrived with my medicine.

Mr Mojo Risin said...

Iain,

This country feels a colder place without you. Come back soon!

Having said that, there's no point in going over to the States if the main purpose is to flog your old Audi cabriolet. They drive on the right...

and they don't appreciate cars that can go round corners at speed.

Ho hum.

Anonymous said...

Auf Wiedersehen, not Wiedersehn. I don't know, the kids of today, can't cope with foreign languages...

Kaiser Bill

Londontory said...

You assume a lot LT from a few words.

I do assume, because I can't see any possibility of a successful "hub" airport for London being anywhere other than Heathrow or a purpose built new one.

My money's on Maidestone. That will suit Mr. Dale!

GaryPowell you are right, taxes are a big problem.

Anonymous said...

Hmm..When Dale finds about what happened to West Ham today, he may choose to stay on that side of the pond..

Anonymous said...

US Immigration Cavity search ends in agony..


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/05/immigration_search/



Let us hope that a similar fate does not befall our host...

Anonymous said...

Auf Wiedersehn pet!
Looking forward to your return.
Hope you had a good flight.

Ed (another Ed) said...

Let's hope they manage to hold onto your luggage, Iain. Apparently it's now 1 in every 100 bags that gets lost. Don't think those little barcodes actually get scanned - they're strictly decorative.

I should know, BA mislaid mine a week ago. They gave me $200 cash on the spot in an ATM card in an envelope. The clever bit? "By opening this envelope you hereby waive all rights..." etc. Genius.

I've saved the $200 though. I'm going to put it towards my next flight with a different airline.

garypowell said...

Just to quash the "its the exchange rate that makes the difference" theory.

I went to the states when the £ was nearly equal to the $ and the US seemed just as cheap.

The relative standard of living for Americans is what matters not what you can buy on your Hols.

I have been to the place over 20 times as I have relatives in Georgia and Florida.

The relative standard of living of even the poor, non-crack-head working person in the US is higher then a qualified nurse in Britain.

The standard of living for a qualified nurse in the US is higher then a doctor in Britain.

The standard of living of a doctor in the US is higher then filmstars in Britain.

My sister in law bought her own house in Florida just on what she made waiting tables in a pizza house. And its still bigger then mine.

Feeling sick? you all should be.

Now you might understand why Americans love their country so much. Including those that hate George Bush.

garypowell said...

And just because I have nothing better to do right now.

I have just come back from a visit to Castros Cuba.

My god a more, sick from top to bottom place, is hard to imagine.

You would swap the life of a Cuban doctor for that of a black death wish crack head in a Miami geto trailer park, and some.

What is more the crack head would not want to be a Cuban doctor for all the rocks he could smoke.

If you dont believe me, ask some. Because I have many.

Not only this they still love America even though its their freedom that has helped then trash their lives. They do not blame their country for it, only themselves.

Feel ashamed? you should do.

Adam said...

Gary Powell: 'rates are almost nonexistent'? If you mean property taxes, then you are enormously mistaken. It varies significantly from area to area, but property taxes where I live in the US are at least 300% of the UK council tax that I paid in London Borough of Brent, as a proportion of house value.

Wage taxation is a little lower than it was in the UK. You do have an NI equivalent, called Social Security, and also you pay medicare taxes. Again, that doesn't total as much as NI in the UK.

The exchange rate makes a huge difference. I have no idea how you think that it wouldn't.

I am from the UK and I live in the US. Property is generally cheaper here (which is why a waitress can afford a bigger house than you); land is cheaper (it is, after all, a huge country) and up here in the North East, houses are built from wood, so construction is cheaper too.

There are a lot of factors at play, and tax is just one of them. The exchange rate is currently a very big deal for those of us who cross the Atlantic relatively often (bigger than the difference in taxation, at the moment, based on historical levels).

I have to say, gary, that you appear to be determined to simplify a complex issue into a simple one. For example, when getting your kid through university costs, fees + living expenses, the best part of $200k dollars, that's an issue. That doctor you speak about may have $300k of loans. Also, I know some doctors, and they live well, but not in general better than British film stars.

The biggest difference here in terms of taxation is that you can claim back mortgage interest against tax. That inflates house prices, of course, but they're not as crazy as they are in the UK, not in most of the US, at least. San Diego, San Francisco and surrounds, Washington DC and a bunch of other place, house prices are as bad as nearly anywhere. In rural America, houses are waaaaay cheaper.

America's a fantastic place, but it's not what you think that it is, Gary, it seems to me.

verity said...

Wonderful for His Age says: ".....sorry must close, nurse has just arrived with my medicine."

Too bad.