So, I’ve sat looking at the sign that says BAA are spending £1 billion to make us travellers happy and contented but I’m sitting beside an electrical socket which doesn’t work, I cant get anything to eat and I’m surrounded by chaos. There’s only one thing for it and here’s a tip for anybody stuck in Gatwick for more than a couple of hours – get yourself over to the Hilton Hotel which is attached to the airport. It’s a 5 mile hike (slight exaggeration) and you have to take one ramp, a lift, go through a car park and then up another ramp but after persevering you will find yourself in the quiet luxury of the Hilton.
No sooner have I reached it than I spot a huge empty leather chesterfield sofa with a socket beside it – bliss! Unfortunately, there’s no WiFi available but it’s easy enough to get a one-day subscription to BT Openzone and a couple of minutes later I’m watching the Ryder Cup.
Only six hours to go!
About 2pm my hunger pangs cannot be ignored any longer as people are looking around trying to work out where the noises are coming from, so in an unusual act of extravagance I decide to treat myself and have lunch in the Hilton.
“I’m sorry sir – you can’t bring that trolley in here”, says the jobsworth concierge. ‘But I just want to see the menu – it’s three yards away.’ “I’m sorry ----- “. I leave the trolley, wander over to the menu and get a dose of reality – an 8oz sirloin with chips and garden vegetables is £26! That’s almost the same price I paid for my flight (but is half what I paid for dinner on Saturday night) so I get my trolley and hike back to the terminal, get a sandwich from M&S and hike back to the Hilton. Amazingly my chesterfield sofa is still free.
I need a coffee so go into Costa Coffee which has an outlet beside the Hilton’s reception.
‘A white coffee please.’
‘Do you want an Americano, a Macchiato, a flat white or a cappuccino ?’
‘What about latte – that’s a white coffee isn’t it ?’
‘Of course sir – now do you want a roasted hazelnut latte, a cinnamon latte, a Costa special latte, a vanilla latte or ……..,’ and so it went on.
‘Just a plain white coffee please.’
‘So that’ll be a flat white?’
‘I guess so.’
‘Small, medium or large?’
‘Look – can we hurry up – I’ve got a plane to catch in 5 hours.’
By this time a family of ‘Little Britain’ lookalikes are hovering around my chesterfield.
‘There you go sir – that’ll be £2.40.’
I turn with my coffee and my chesterfield has now disappeared under the Little Britains so I have to slum it at a wooden Costa Coffee table. I turn my PC on, start up the golf and have my sandwich. Then I take the cap off to drink my coffee and find that it’s filled right up to the brim. Even a brain surgeon with steadier hands than mine would have spilled some so I take it back to ‘Costa Coffee’s employee of the year ‘(that’s me being sarcastic by the way) and say, ‘could you pour some of this coffee out please – about a third.’
‘Is there something wrong with it?’
‘No it’s just too full – can you pour some out please.’
‘So you want me to pour about a third of your coffee out?’
‘Yup – you’ve got it.’
‘But I can’t – it’s mixed with the milk.’
Eventually, Miss Congeniality got the message but not before saying, ‘it doesn’t cost any less you know.’
I finish watching Europe thrash the Americans in the Ryder cup by 1 point and decide to see if I can check in my bags, which I do and then head through to find a quiet area air-side. Get a seat, switch on the PC and find that my BT Openzone WiFi pass does not work air-side!
It hasn’t been a good day and there’s still four hours to go before I reach the sanctuary of my home. I decide never ever to travel again.