TL1 – Day 10 – Before Stepping off the plane….

There he was standing their impatiently near his girlfriend, crushed into a forward seat that wasn’t his by the passing passengers.  So easy to leave, so hard to go back.

‘I know, I know, Now we’ll have to wait till they all get off.’ he said.

‘I guess you left it behind, getting my bag down’, she said

I knew exactly what he was hanging back for.  It had to be his, that black vinyl jacket lying on seat 24c, down the back of the plane routing from London to Rome.  We’d just had a rough landing at Fumicino with perhaps some cross wind.  People get stressed getting out of planes and forget stuff.  I remember looking at the jacket and asking a passenger, last one to leave row 24 ‘Is that your’s’.  ‘No it’s not mine!’ she said.  Interesting short comment I thought.

So I passed the guy thinking, ‘thank God you remembered mate’, or was it his girlfriend who reminded him.  Certainly having someone with you helps when you’re packing up coats, phones, ipads, laptops, books and other paraphernalia in a hurry, whil lugging down bags from the overhead bins.  Easy to do… leave something behind.  Wish I had myself, remembered….

Much earlier that same day, I’d been on a different plane, different airline, different row, same coat, phone, jacket, bags etc. Our transatlantic flight landed in Heathrow a bit early with tons of time before having to cross over to Terminal 5.  The plane to Rome was due to leave just before 1pm that day, therefore several hours available.

The stress of Heathrow is manifest, both in passengers and ground staff of all varieties.  The uniform and walkie talkie, the nicely colour coded uniforms, the conveyor belts underground and the seemingly endless maze of escalators, stairs, lifts and corridors.  There’s probably a good reason why there are multi-faith prayer rooms, but I’ve not often been inside and did sometimes wonder from time to time whether anyone actually visited them.  I’m sure eventually though, perhaps Yoga room might be added to de-stress at times of high stress at large international airports.

You know before getting off a plane at Heathrow that there will be queues to get off, get on, get through security, catch a bus, as you travel from Terminal to Terminal.  To help with all that – the signs are colored Purple.  ‘Flight Connections’ in purple all over the place.  Yellow signs for ‘Gates’ etc.

You kind of know before catching that bus to T5 that its a long way off. ‘Better check I have everything’. Coat check, Bag Check, Phone – …… Check, Oh.. they need to see my boarding pass here, to catch the bus, .. bad check.  Boarding pass and passport not found.  Stress alarm.

After check and re-check of numerous pockets and places you haven’t put a passport in for many years, comes a realization that – It has to be on the plane. – the international flight I just left.

Some airports are super easy to backtrack.  Not Heathrow.

which terminal did i land at ?  Which Gate ? … I’ve walked half an hour already through the purple haze of flight connections.  I have to get back there.  I started back up the stairs with my bags where the only escalators were coming downward and now the clock WAS ticking.

To be continued….

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