People often say to me that travelling must be one of the perks of the job, but, oh boy, there are times when I beg to differ. I tried so hard to check-in online, but the British Airways system kept chucking me out. So I tried to use the electronic check-in kiosks at Heathrow airport, but after queuing for 30 minutes, the machine refused to give me a boarding pass. I was told to join a nearby queue for the actual check-in desks, where I waited for an hour, before being told that, actually, it was the wrong queue.
When I eventually got my boarding pass, I then had to stand in front of an x-ray machine in security, striking different poses (turn to the left, hands in the air, turn to the right, hands down…) I know security is important in these troubled times, but I couldn’t help thinking that they were just making me dance the Timewarp in slow motion, and taking pictures of me in my underwear with their x-ray camera. I imagine the images will be on YouTube by now.
The plane was late, and once we’d boarded, we were told we’d have to wait for an hour for a take-off slot. Eventually we trundled to the runway, whereupon the plane immediately turned around and went back to the gate, because a passenger had taken ill. The stricken passenger was removed, and we had to wait for his luggage to be located in the hold and removed. Then the plane had to be re-fuelled, and we waited for another take-off slot. After three hours on the plane, we finally took off.
It could have been worse; some of my friends from the Royal Society of Chemistry had their flight to Boston cancelled. And at least I didn’t have to watch any films about penguins this time.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest – on with the ACS meeting…
Andrew Mitchinson (Associate Editor, Nature)