Get me back home to my bed

Frustrated passengers wait at Heathrow Airport for weather to clear.
Frustrated passengers wait at Heathrow Airport for weather to clear.

Troy Flavell says hello - or at least he will later this week when, like me, he makes it back to New Zealand, writes Tony Alexander.

The former All Black is coming back for some media ahead of his Fight For Life bout with Willie Mason in December. I'm just trying to get home.

Both of us caught a British Airways flight from Paris to Heathrow early in the afternoon of Monday. But it was delayed because of fog at Heathrow, which means that instead of 50 planes landing each hour they can only land 30, for safety reasons.

So fog-piercing radar doesn't deliver normal service, though that shouldn't be a problem for any of our airports in New Zealand where the frequency of landings is somewhat less than 50 an hour.

So the takeoff was delayed. That meant we landed late at Heathrow.

Then the plane could not dock at the air bridge so they had to wheel in some stairs. These went to the back of the plane so although we were near the front we were among the last to get off.

The bus had to travel some distance to get us to terminal five where the plane was supposed to go but did not, as the only parking slot was at a domestic terminal.

Then we missed a bus to terminal one, where Air New Zealand resides.

Then we took ages to get through security (again) even though Troy asked if we and some others with pressing needs could go near the front of the line.

The checking was the slowest I have ever seen and they had one of those pornographic check-out-your-nether-regions scanners for anyone who beeped. To avoid it I took off anything resembling metal from my person and wished for the first time in my life that my trousers had flies rather than a zip.

Luckily I got through digitally unmolested. By that time we arrived at the transfers desk with just 35 minutes to spare before the flight left at 4.15pm.

It left without us and many others, however, because they closed the gate just before we got there.


Now where is the sense in delaying planes landing at an airport but not delaying those taking off - especially when long-distance ones taking off can so easily make up the lost time along the way whereas short-haul flights cannot?

The upshot is that fortunately I have been able to rebook for today's flight (Tuesday where I am) though I am unsure what became of Troy.

If you see him on TV this week he probably got reassigned to the flight as well. What is the lesson in this? Never fly into Heathrow with less than a two-hour gap between the anticipated time of landing and departure.

Allow three and preferably four hours. The shopping is OK and food not too bad.

And what about the state of the New Zealand economy or what has been going on over here in Europe? Meh. Let's just say you reach a point when travelling when all you want to do after hopping all over the place is to get back home in your own bed and settle back down with family.

» Tony Alexander is the chief economist for the Bank of New Zealand.

The Southland Times