One of my favorite movies is Love Actually. In it, Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister says that if you want to remind yourself that the world is full of love, just look at the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport. Now, which arrivals hall isn’t specified, but, after having spent a day at Terminal Five, I can say that the above statement holds true. More or less. There are plenty of happy reunions to witness as each plane lands.
When there are no arriving flights? Well, you’ll be wishing Terminal Five had some benches.
I would, however, like to add another little fact about Heathrow Airport that may restore your faith in humanity. No, it’s not go-to-terminal-one-departure-hall-after-two-days-of-no-flights-leaving. That probably won’t help. Instead, spend a morning on line to pass through border control via “all other passports” and I think you’ll have a bit more faith in humanity.
That was my morning a couple Sundays ago. After just disembarking a-too-short flight (why can’t the flight be eight hours when you want to sleep and six when you want to land?), I stood on a line that nearly snaked out of the hall for nearly two hours. Was it long? Yes. Was I tired? Of course. But you know what else? People were in surprisingly good moods. Well, most of them.
I heard so many amazing stories and even small snippets of people talking on that line. There was the older woman who had just ran the Boston Marathon. There was the American who had been living in London for seven years and working in defense for the Embassy. There was a woman who was engaged and going to move to London, but was still back and forth between the US. There was a young American (they were pretty much all American. that queue is basically Americans and Indians.) who was making a connecting flight to go to Sierra Leone and then onto Liberia. There was a group of business people from Chicago who would be travelling to London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and then to LA before going back to Chicago. People were showing each other there awful visa photos (seriously, my visa photo is a mug shot. and i’m not the only one who thinks so.) and people were talking and laughing.
Sure, we could have all been in a bad mood because of the long journeys we had just undertaken. But luckily our fellow travelers seemed to retain some optimism. Maybe it was because we were all semi-experienced travelers. Maybe it was because we were all traveling alone. No matter what the reason, next time your standing on a long border control line take a moment to pause, listen and engage. You’ll learn some interesting things.
Besides, in this situation, you share a common experience with these people. You can connect and learn something. It makes the wait a lot more fun.
Not to mention, it sure cuts down your wait at baggage claim. Especially when bags from a new flight are arriving at your carousel.
What do you do when waiting on long lines? Have you ever waited on an insanely long line to enter a country?
luckily, they are admitting that it’s a problem, you can read about it here. so, no, i’m not crazy. i really did wait that long.