herald

Saturday 23 September 2017

Heathrow's pearly gates are waiting

THURSDAY: So, farewell to Orlando, Theme Park capital of the world. The American tourism fair Pow Wow has been a big success, and the Irish tour operators have got good prices out of their hoteliers as a result of the ash cloud. I also gave vent at the press conferences to one of my big gripes -- resort fees, places that charge extra for use of the pool.

FRIDAY: The sun is shining in Dublin when I land. Summer is on a weekend this year.

SATURDAY: A 91st birthday party for my godmother in Antrim and it might as well be the tropics. One of the guests, Jimmy Kelly, is 99 and still writing a newspaper column. He started work in 1929 and is the last man standing from the Irish Press's first issue. An inspiration to all.

SUNDAY: BA are on strike again. I am not sure what the issue is, nobody is. But my flight to Australia is going to be packed with anxious stranded BA-bies.

MONDAY: The lounge in T3, Heathrow. When I die I will be brought to a place like this. Provided I have been well behaved there will be drink there -- Montes Caubernet Sauvignon, Pays Denise St Joseph 20-0-6, Villa San Juliette 2007 Merlot Paso Robles, Ermita de San Felices Rioja -- and prawn sandwiches (a la Roy Keane) and an ocean of Walker's shortbread.

There will be anxious people pounding their laptops in search of good deeds they may have done by accident. A few gentlemen will be here, dressed down, showing how suave and sophisticated they are, and there will be a few people who normally travel in economy class trying not to look pop-eyed at the Aladdin's cave to which they have been unexpectedly upgraded.

There will be at least 20 people pretending they are more important than anyone else in the room and a token woman somewhere in the TV area. The glass ceiling doesn't exist in the boardroom; it exists six miles up in business class. And there will be me, trying to drink as much wine for free as I can in the short time that I have before boarding. If I board . . . because I don't have a confirmed business-class seat and the flight is horribly overbooked. But I'm on the waiting list and if enough of the people who deserve to get into heaven don't show up, you might be allowed in. And yea verily, I will look cool and say, they ALWAYS overbook and I ALWAYS get in.

MONDAY night: Seat 15K, Qantas business class, upstairs. The woman I am sitting beside is returning from Cannes and we talk movies.

TUESDAY: Light is fading in Changi airport but I snatch a humid breath of air in the open section beside Harry's Bar. Not many airports allow you to go outside but daylight is the number-one enemy in the battle against jetlag and this journey is going to test my theory that jetlag is an excuse for people who aren't happy travellers in the first place.

WEDNESDAY: Darwin airport was where Canon Horan got the idea for Knock. My Jetstar flight is surprisingly comfortable. Lo-co can do long-haul. Michael O'Leary has his eye on this one.

Savvy Traveller by Eoghan Corry, How the Travel Industry Works and How to Make it Work for you, is now on sale, €15

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