Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Departure from Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA)

Last week has been a very busy week. Deadlines, two bids submitted, several meetings, making a poster, ISMAR issues. And then the yesterday night again packing. Ensuring that all the gadgets are ok, fully charged, that all the cables are available. It is not the most efficient way in which I am dealing with this... more a brute-force approach. Several power adaptors for the different devices, redundant set of cables so that I do not get stuck should one one work (happened already once). I leave in time, drive first briefly to the campus. Need to make a printout in my office. Also take a few flyers of the Centre for Creative Technology - one never knows if they are needed.

The weather has been mild and warm, a bit humid, but some sun rays. Now, however, as I drive towards the airport, the mist turns into a grey fuzzy haze, and small rain droplets form on the windscreen. Does not look good - I hope that the flight is not delayed. I had not taken a taxi this time, but had reserved a parking space near the airport. 47 Pounds for 8 days, appears reasonable to me. When I enter the Long-Term parking, every possible space appears to be occupied. I had been there before, and it never was a problem; I always had found a space right near the entrance. But now all spaces there are filled. What is happening? Are all these people travelling on an EU grant so that they can afford the parking? I continue to search. Did not know that the parking area was so vast. Through parking areas 2, 3, further to 4,5. No space. No traffic either - these must be all people who came here on the weekend. Who would fly now on a Tuesday into holidays? Finally, at parking area 7 there are spots available. I park, get out, and the slight rain drizzle continues. This time I have 5 pieces of luggage: suitcase, carry-on bag, laptop bag, camera bag, and poster roll. I consolidate the camera bag into the carry-on, but there are still 4 bags to pull all the way to the terminal, through that long parking area. The rain does not help... I grab a trolley and put everything on it. I could wait at one of those bus stations for the courtesy bus, but I decide that time is already tight, and I would rather walk quickly to the check-in. Halfway through there is in fact a courtesy bus coming from the terminal, bringing people to their cars. I will do that as well upon my return. I could get in now, at least be dry, but I do not know how long that bus will circle around. So I keep walking quickly toward the terminal, passing signs which state "no pedestrian walk across the parking lot. Take the courtesy bus".

When I enter the Jet2 check-in area in the terminal, it looks like a zoo. The Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) could almost close if it had not these Jet2.com flights. I remembered to queue towards the right for Jet2, the left side would lead to another budget airline. But as I wait there for a few minutes, nothing is moving. I am getting nervous now, the time is running. I leave the trolley and walk towards the front. An attendant is blocking access to the actual check-in queue. I ask her where I should go for my flight. She points me to a counter where very few people are. Great. She also mentions that the flight may be already closed... not so great. I grab my luggage and stand behind the few people of counter 43. Then it is my turn. The flight is not yet closed. But my suitcase is too heavy. Only 17kg are allowed, mine is 18 kg. So I have to walk across to pay 6 Pounds. As I come back, the clerk sees my big poster cardboard tube. This would also need to be checked in, as I cannot take so many pieces into the plane. She makes a phone call, and then it is decided that I can take the tube into the plane. Good.

Now towards the X-ray control. They have refurbished it since the last time I was here. Two isles now, one for fast track. When getting my car parking, I had noticed on the web the option to pay 5 pounds to get a fast track. Now this really shows the hypocracy of all that security hype: it is just plain money extraction from the customers. This does nothing to help security, any terrorist can pay it if they want to. Where is here the difference between this "official sanctioned fasttrack procedure" and the good old method to slip the officer a fiver so that he lets you go through faster (not that I am implying that this has ever happened...)? There is no difference. But I had refused to slip that fiver when seeing this option on the web. So I am stuck in the slow queue.

Fortunately there is no queue. But the officer who checks boarding pass and passport, tells me I have too many pieces of carry-on luggage. Why the hell is that? Whad does it impede security if I have one or three bags to carry? But I do not complain, smile friendly instead. Pack the laptop bag into the carry-on bag which is now almost bursting. The poster will have to go separate still. And I am allowed to carry the laptop separately. I squeeze it under my arm, hope it does not all out. The controls are very thorough today. Is there any security alert? They seem to be more thorough than 3 weeks ago at Manchester Airport. After I have passed the control, I start again to establish my seveal carry-on items: the wheeled case, the laptop bag, and the poster roll will just have to be separate. The camera bag stays nicely in the wheeled case.

Boarding at 15:00. I had paid the 12.50 Pound fee for an extra legrooom seat, but since this is at an emergency exit, the seat back does not recline. The legroom is great though. They just took out the seat in front of it, so that I have actually the lenght of two seats. I stretch my legs and take a nap.

The flight takes only 2 hours.

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