Back from London

I got back from London on Sunday from the Launchpad infrastructure sprint. Because of the terrorism scare, Heathrow was chaos (more so than usual). The bus service from the tube station to Terminal 4 ended up in a traffic jam. There were a lot of people milling around outside the terminal who were not being allowed in because they’d arrived too early (it was around 9am, and some of them had afternoon flights).

It took a while to find the end of the checkin queue because another queue (passport control) had extended in front of it. I got to the end of this other queue and was told that I needed to go to the other end of the terminal section to queue up. After an hour or so, I got to the head of the queue and was able to check in my luggage, saying good bye to my laptop, phone and other stuff I’d normally be carrying on board. I’d padded my bag with a few pillows and got the checkin lady to put “fragile” stickers over the bag, which was about as good as I could hope for.

Passengers queuing for checkin

Passengers queuing for checkin
My hand luggage

My clear plastic bag of hand luggage

Now it was time to queue for passport control. This queue had now extended out the door of the terminal and round the corner. The queue moved fairly slowly and it became apparent why once I got through: the security screening line started on the other side of the door and there wasn’t much room for new people to queue.

By the time I got to the security screening, it was almost midday. The screening involved X-raying of my clear plastic bag of hand luggage, belt and shoes. After walking through the metal detector, I got a pat down. At this point, they were confiscating dangerous contraband that people were trying to smuggle onto the plane such as glasses cases.

This left only about five minutes before the flight’s boarding was scheduled to close. Before boarding, they were checking people’s hand luggage to make sure passengers had receipts for any magazines or books from the airport bookshop, confiscating the items if the receipt couldn’t be found.

The actual flight ended up leaving about one and a half hours late after waiting for everyone to arrive (they ended up unpacking about 5 people’s luggage). I was resigned to the fact that I’d have to wait around Singapore airport for the next flight, since there was only one hour between landing and my connecting flight. Thankfully, Qantas delayed the flight to Perth though, so it was straight from one gate to another.

Things were pretty uneventful on getting back to Australia. There were no nasty surprises on opening my luggage — I assume the baggage handlers had been instructed to take special care of everyone’s luggage due to the UK restrictions.

Royal Victoria Dock, a few days before my flight. The towers at Canary Warf is visible on the horizon.

2 Comments

  1. Posted 17 August, 2006 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    > There were no nasty surprises on opening my luggage — I assume the baggage handlers had been instructed to take special care of everyone’s luggage due to the UK restrictions.

    My Dad flew from Heathrow today, and his laptop (still not allowed to be taken as hand luggage) ended up coming through at the other end with a large dent in it. :(

    - Chris.

  2. Posted 18 August, 2006 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Chris: from what I read, people could carry laptops on as hand luggage in a small bag already (since Tuesday, I think). So he probably could have avoided the problem.