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Never Heathrow again

I will never fly through or into or out of London Heathrow ever again. Excuse the following rant, I need to vent. And I am not going to do so in well-mannered words.

I had a three hour layover there today. Of those three hours, I didn't get to sit down at the gate (or in a pub) to wait five minutes because I was busy waiting for the bus to take me from terminal 4 to terminal 1 (a total of 1:10 hours time lost), spent another 70 minutes being scrutinised — or rather treated as a terrorist — by security, and scuttled through the endless corridors and mazes that make up this shithole of an airport.

I kept a tally: not counting repetitions by the immensely annoying PR announcements, my ears had to absord the word "security" 16 times during that time; "regulations" topped that with 23; I had to show my boarding pass 4 times, and my passport 5 times. I had to take off my shoes three times, completely unpack and repack my bag twice, and twice had to explain my intentions for (daring to) travel to Ireland.

But by far the worst were those 70 minutes of scrutiny behind the curtains. It all started in the regular security queue, when, after I had taken off my shoes and belt, emptied my pockets, saw my bag scanned twice, a security guard walked up to me and started to search me. He didn't say a word, he didn't excuse himself, suddenly he was just searching me and doing so not exactly in a very respectful way.

I then made the mistake to ask him to give me a break, out of surprise — the guy was giving me a treatment you'd usually expect from small-penis US cops getting their daily adrenaline just before hand-cuffing (or beating) a shoplifter. I was startled for a moment, but a second later I realised I should have kept my mouth shut. It was too late, he had already signal two others and before I knew it, I was escorted to their office where they took my data and announced that the officer had the choice to press charges against me for abusive behaviour. Hello, pot? Yeah, kettle on line two...

I asked what the reason for the charges were and was told that "these honorable people ensuring everyone's security at the airport have a right to their own security, and thus any form of abuse of violence could not be tolerated." It was almost like in the movies, and so I wasn't surprised when noone wanted to hear my story. I inquired about the guy's name and was refused.

At that moment I went into a trance and just started smiling, kept my eyes closed most of the time and answered their questions. For one, it seemed like the thing to do; in addition, it was probably the only way I could keep calm while exposed to this fucking security theatre, performed by a bunch of monkies in human clothing with a collective IQ below room temperature (Celsius, mind you).

This wasn't the first time that I had been searched and questioned and treated like a potential terrorist (if they keep doing this, I might just become one with the expressed goal to shove a cricket bat up the rear end of all those responsible for the fucking circus that airports have become these days). However, this time was by far the worst, and it wasn't even within the US — but then again, the UK isn't too far behind, I guess.

Someone previously agreed with me that Heathrow is a dump, but that Geneva weren't any better. I had to disagree, for in Geneva, and every other airport I've visited so far, there was at least a minute display of decency, sometimes humour, but in all cases politeness. What happened today at Heathrow was everything but, rather like the opposite of what I have come to believe would be the English Way.

I will not touch ground at Heathrow ever again, and I urge everyone to do the same. Stansted, Luton, London City — they may not be all that great either, but they aren't Heathrow.

NP: Agalloch / The Mantle