A Worrying Blog

May 24, 2008 -

John Heald

I guess we’ve all been through an airport at some point in the past few years and I guess we all turned up, as requested, two hours before the scheduled departure time and then faced the madness that flying anywhere involves these days.

I spent yesterday at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, two of the busiest airports in the world and as I was not flying myself I had time to pay attention to what was going on.
Obviously before that terrible day in September airports treated planes like buses. Security was so slack — the airlines didn’t even have to match luggage to passengers, for instance — that I’m surprised Bin Laden’s suicide jockeys had to resort to box cutters and could have boarded with a dozen AK 47’s and a tank in their carry on baggage. Now of course we have gone full circle and you cannot board a plane until you have been through security and had a dozen Spaniels sniff you everywhere……………

Deep down, I’ve always suspected that the two-hour rule is nothing more than airport authorities getting us into their giant shopping malls for an extra hour so we can spend more on power converters, bottles of $8 water and inflatable pillows.

My wife says I’m a cynic. So, okay then. If security remains the same and it has nothing to do with pre-flight retail therapy, why? Why does anybody think it takes two hours to walk from one side of a building to the other?  With all the moving walkways at airports, I hardly think this is it. So why? In two hours, they could strip search me, tattoo the airline you are flying with on your bottom (not so good if you are flying Virgin) and still leave you enough time to buy a teddy bear wearing a Union Jack a tin od stale Harrods’s shortbread.

In talking to the agents at the airport today though I was shocked to hear the following news.

If you fly first class or business they told me check-in takes 60 minutes. It’s only people in cattle class who are asked to get there two hours before the plane’s due to leave.

This is crazy. Club-class people still have to get a boarding pass. Their bags still have to get to the plane.

So why should a club-class passenger be capable of getting to the plane in an hour when people in the back need two? Are airport authorities suggesting that people at the back can’t read direction signs properly and get lost a lot? Are they saying people who are not at the front of the plane cannot walk past Burger King without stopping to buy a last minute Big Whopper thingy and fries thus missing their flight to Boston?

Are we to understand that people who are not wearing a Rolex but instead are wearing a Timex cannot tell time?

I asked this question and they put me severely in my place. They told me its never the business people who are paged because they are not onboard but the people who have been at the bar all day drinking and are so happy that they can’t remember their own names without trying to make it to a certain gate at a certain time.

It’s not the folks in first class who have no idea that bringing liquid, cosmetics and a bow and arrow on a plane is not allowed and therefore take longer at security………………this is a fact said the folks from the British Airport Authorities……………………and after I climbed down from my pedestal…………I felt an idiot……………and had to admit I was wrong.

I also have to say that the new Heathrow Airport terminal 5 is stunning, however that will not help the thousands of people whose luggage was lost. I was assured that things are much better now and that Heathrow Terminal 5 is now much better and by the end of the year should have reached the same standard as Albania’s Crapov International Airport.

Still, the team and I have put into place a wonderful meet and greet system for all the guests flying into London and also arranged the same 5 star service for guests when they return after their 12 day cruise………………………..seriously, things are getting better at Heathrow and I am sure you and your Samsonite will spend a wonderful cruise together.

Following the airport visits we endured the holiday traffic and drove to Dover to see the port facilities and my goodness are they excited that Carnival Cruise Lines is coming to town. We met and discussed the luggage embarkation and debarkation as well as transportation needs.

So, if anyone is sailing on the Carnival Splendor and you have a question about the debarkation and or embarkation process please slap on a comment marked ” STEPHANIE – PLEASE HAVE JOHN REPLY “……………she will send it to me…………….and I will………..reply straight away.

Now, with regard to the Bloggers Cruise I have persuaded the folks at Carnival to give us one dining room reserved just for us. This means that Heidi and I can eat every dinner with you all and we can have our own unique entertainment in there each and every night. So far we have 400 people booked…………….but there is still room for you……………I hope some of you will book and come along for what will be a cruise to remember…………..always.

I will chat with you about the pre cruise activities and other voyage details soon.

So, here I am back at home. Actually I am at my Mum and Dads, as I still have not replaced my computer, which I want to smash with a hammer, but Heidi won’t let me.

The entire journey home I have been worrying……………worrying about if I upset the agent by arguing with them about the class thingy and worrying if my plans for debarking 3300 guests will work………………..Heidi says I worry to much……………….she never worry’s and lives her life in a state of ” everything will be OK “…………in fact the only thing she has been worrying about is her lack of Swedish Fish………….not herring you understand but those sour candy things called Swedish Fish………….she loves them……………they are her new ” thing ” so if you happen to be sailing soon and want me to buy you a bottle of champagne or 7………….I will for the odd Swedish Fish.

Anyway, back to worrying.

The trouble is that after about four billion years of worrying about being eaten by a dinosaur, getting bird flu, world wars and people who want to blow us all to kingdom come, we’ve been left with an inability to stop worrying when actually everything’s fine.

We worry today about the onset of baldness and cellulite with the same intensity as people in 1665 worried about the great plague. Today, for instance, the sun is shining, the sky is a cobalt blue, the thermometer is nudging 75F, I am not in the dog house and yet here I sit worrying about if the diet coke I just drank will make my teeth fall out and if this blog is worthy of your time.

Its sad but older people always believe that life was better when they were younger. Hearing tales of my mother’s upbringing is like being immersed in a warm bath with Mr. Rogers and the entire neighborhood…………………everything was warm and cozy and full of good thing. Back then you didn’t worry about the Stats at your daughter’s school or the length of her skirt or if she had met some predator on the Internet.

I look today at those people on Jerry Springer prattling on about their tormented love lives and I can’t help thinking: “Yes, it can’t have been nice to come home and find your son in women’s underwear, but not that long ago you might have come home to find he had been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Then we have today’s army of stress counselors who are on hand to iron out the emotional creases after some minor accident at work. They tell us that life in the 21st century is more complicated than ever before, but it just so isn’t.

By encouraging us to fret about minor injuries and bits of the international space station dropping on our heads and the threat posed to mankind’s very existence by eating red meat, smoking the odd cigar and my Range Rover causing bloody global warming, we’ll all be completely unprepared for the day when those nutcases in North Korea and Iran point a few Nukes at us and we really do have something to worry about.

So, no more worrying for me……………….instead I shall enjoy these last few days at home and prepare myself for the fantastic Carnival Splendor.

Finally, tomorrow is Memorial Day.

We give thanks for all who have chosen to serve their country. We give thanks for their bravery, their commitment, and their love.

But we know that when armies meet on the field there are always some who don’t come home.
And so we pause in the memory of those who went and did not return to mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children left behind…………………….we honour them all here today.

Lest we forget.


Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.