This is mostly a rant about the extreme crappiness of the Heathrow experience and will probably be enjoyed by those who’ve shared it a few times too often; plus some pretty neat aerial photographs and a confession.

Heathrow Blecch · By most measures, it’s the most important airport in the world, in terms of where you can get to, the number of people, the amount of money. Why does it have to be so awful?

Today we flew into Terminal 1 from Dublin; the Ireland & Channel-Island flights are sequestered off in something that looks more or less like a corrugated-iron pipe, twenty minutes brisk walk from anything. The “anything” you get to after that walk is a security check—huh, didn’t we just get off the plane?—your first experience of that British Queueing Experience—passing which grants you the right to line up at your airline’s Transfer Desk (more B.Q.E.), who release you to a trundle downstairs to wait for the bus over to Terminal Three (B.Q.E.). The buses, crammed Third-World dense, amble unhurriedly through Heathrow’s bowels, when we got dumped at T3 it turned out that just for today the escalator upstairs was busted, putting us in just the right mood for another twenty minutes slogging across the terminal to our gate for our final B.Q.E. dose.

We had an hour forty-five for the transfer and staggered into the Vancouver gate just as they were starting to load up. On a better day when you have some time to spend, Heathrow does have some decent shops but the food mostly sucks, the ambience not improved by a generous choice of select European cigarette smokes. But mostly the place just takes way too long to get through. And the BAA is agitating furiously to build a Terminal Five, which should really add to the wonderfulness. Lauren points out that the required time to get to your plane is about the same from downtown Paddington Station as it is terminal-to-terminal.

The Aerial Arctic, Not Entirely Lies · I got some pretty neat snaps from the plane, the first is Iceland, the second the East coast of Greenland, the third a little ways inland.

Iceland from the air
· · ·
East coast of Greenland from the air
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East Greenland from the air

Actually, I didn’t get pretty neat snaps, I got pretty miserable snaps, but if there’s one area where PhotoShop’s a champ, it’s in fixing up vague, semi-obscured, bleached-out aerial photos. I’m not really up on how digital image enhancement is done, but if there’s anything even remotely interesting in a photo from a plane, some combination of Brightness/Contrast filtering, Colour Correction, and the mighty “Levels” adjustment (I really must read up and learn what that does) can make it look like it was taken by someone who knew what they were doing and weren’t shooting through a ten-year-old Airbus window.

Anyhow, as a matter of policy I’ve tried to make a point of admitting whenever the pictures here have been particularly egregiously digitally tinkered with, like those above: obviously I don’t include cropping.

author · Dad
colophon · rights

November 01, 2003
· The World (144 fragments)
· · Places
· · · Arctic (1 more)
· · · Heathrow (1 more)
· · Travel (50 more)
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Photos (975 more)

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