Sorry It's Late Blog

January 8, 2009 -

John Heald

Hello Everyone,

I am so sorry this blog is late and rather shorter than normal. My internet provider decided to fail meaning BT stood for Bastard Technology. Anyway, after hours of being on hold listening to the music of Burt Bacarack the nice man from the Indian call center fixed the problem. So, its 11.00pm and let me just tell you about my day.

What’s the worst thing about airports? I mean, apart from obvious stuff such as the minging ( toilets, the long lines, paying $9 for a cheese sandwich, the fear of dying and when the check-in lady asks if you packed your case yourself, having to fight a childish urge to reply: “Do I look like I’ve got a butler you idiot?” No, the worst thing is other passengers. This morning I drove my mate Danny to the airport for his flight to Brussels, Belgium and as always I came away with a sense of doom……….I hate airports.

I stood with Danny as he checked his bag at the British Airways desk and I was reminded how just once when asked by the 14 year old check in girl “did you pack your own bags” I have wanted to reply “Do I look like I have a friggin butler……… you idiot?” …………… and then I have to remind myself that they are just doing their job.

I hate the fact that “they” won’t let you on a plane until they’ve ruined your laptop, and half a dozen spaniels have had a good rummage round your shoes. Most of all I hate the two hour check in rule. Danny’s flight lasts 55 minutes. So why the two-hour check-in rule? It has been a source of massive marital stress in my house. Heidi insists on being there when asked, whereas I think 45 minutes is plenty.

I like to check in last, on the basis that the final bags to be loaded into the hold will be the first off at the other end, and I like to be greeted by a flight attendant on the plane who tuts a lot and looks at her watch.
And here’s the thing………. I’ve never missed a plane.

Deep down, I’ve always suspected that the two-hour rule is nothing more than airport authorities using the current “world we live in” as a means of getting us into their giant shopping malls for an extra hour so we can spend more on currency converters, Starbucks and inflatable pillows.

My wife, who as I write has started packing my suitcases, says I’m a moaner and I should wear a T-shirt that says “Grumpy Old Man” or “Born To Moan.” 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? Does it perhaps have something to do with obesity? Are we all now so enormous that we move at the pace of an earth mover? But with all the moving walkways at airports, I hardly think this is it.

So why? In two hours, they could unpack and rebuild all the electrical appliances in my suitcase, perform keyhole surgery in my arse, do deep searches on all my relations to make sure none of my family have degrees in bomb making from the University of Afghanistan and there’d still be enough time left to buy a $9 cheese sandwich and a copy of People magazine.

I suspect the answer may well be found by examining the class system. If you fly first or business, they tell you the 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.

On the face of it, this seems silly. Club-class people still have to get a boarding pass. Their bags still have to get to the plane. And don’t say the single fast-track lane moves any faster than the 400 channels for ordinary people because I assure you it doesn’t.

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 in thrifty cannot walk past a burger joint without being overwhelmed with a need to stuff their faces with a McThingy? Are we to understand that the less well-off cannot tell the time? ….well, sorry but that’s just bollocks.

Anyway, the main reason I write today about airports is because that while at London Gatwick this morning I read the signs informing passengers about something new that will no doubt cause even more confusion. The signs stated that starting on February 1 in British Airports a speedy X-ray body scanner will be used at security. This machine penetrates clothing to create an image that exposes whether someone has a hand grenade up their bottom. The European Commission is proposing to allow airports to use the devices from 2010. Queues will be shortened drastically, leaving you more time to browse in Sunglasses Hut.

But are we happy about this? Is there a “threat to personal dignity especially for celebrities?” Yes, there are “real fears” that pictures of, say, Paris Hilton passing through the scanner may end up being posted on the internet. She can’t be persuaded to wear knickers anyway, especially when climbing out of cars in short dresses at 2 am.

I guess the only way to fly then is on your own private jet. Check-in time is one minute before the scheduled departure. Or one hour afterwards, if you can’t be bothered to get up. It doesn’t really matter because all you have to do is show your passport to a man and you will soon be on board in a big swivelly seat, wondering whether to have champagne or go straight for the in-flight lap dance.

Actually, there is another way of course and that’s learn to be a pilot and fly yourself. ……..I could never do that. Apart from having the map reading ability of a jellyfish there is another reason I would never like to learn to fly………….You have to talk in a stupid code, saying “over” when you’ve finished speaking for the moment and “out” when you’ve finished altogether. Why? When I ring the plumber or my friend PA in his cubicle at Carnival HQ, I am able to convey the nature of my request perfectly well using English………… So why when I’m in a plane do I have to talk in code?

“Hello, it’s John here. Is it alright to land?” is a much easier way of saying, “Chicago Tower, this is Foxtrot Uniform Victor Tango on 9153.953 requesting a southern approach to runway 49er.”

But private pilots love all this sort of stuff. They love doing utterly pointless preflight checks, tapping dials and making sure that a bunch of beavers didn’t come in the night and chew through all the wires.

Nope…………like you I am stuck with regular flying and I am sure that this means there will be plenty of more stories for the blog. Regarding the bloggers cruise, we are privileged to have a group of amazingly talented journalists joining us for this great adventure. Last year they agreed to take part in a Q and A session as bloggers tapped into their experiences of travel and their opinions on the cruise industry. Well……..they have agreed to do so again and we all look forward to that event in February.

Although I detest eating in the airport, I don’t think I could ever run a restaurant. It’s not that I haven’t thought of it. I even know exactly what it would look like – a mish-mash of old wooden furniture, roaring log fires, cozy red walls and a cigar smoking area ……….. still have not had one by the way. I actually think it would be quite a nice place. I’d call it something stupid like “Hamilton’s or Prime Rib and Spotted Dick.”

I wouldn’t need one of those fancy French chef’s who speaks like Inspector Clouseau just as Carnival don’t. Our chef’s along with the support of the shoreside team are worthy of awards and anyone who has watched Carnival grow over the years will know just how far we have come.

On my to the airport this morning my friend Danny asked me what ringtone I had on my Raspberry. “Bugger off,” I told him. “The one it came with. Do I look like the sort of person who cares what noise his phone makes?”

Sadly, however, I was protesting too much. In fact I’m a compulsive fiddler, never really happy with anything for more than five minutes. Which means that secretly, and rather embarrassingly, I change the ringtone on Raspberry all the time. It was a 24 eeh eeh eehooh, and then it was the first few bars of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, and now it’s a sort of soft and unobtrusive pinging noise. So soft and unobtrusive, in fact, that I only know when it’s ringing when the dog next door starts to bark.

However……….I have stopped paying for new ring tones because of the credit crunch ………… economics teacher would have been so proud of me. He never liked me but I was fascinated by him.

That’s because at school he never really shook himself properly after a trip to the toilet. This meant that instead of listening to his endless boring lectures, I sat there, transfixed by the growing splotch of darkness on the front of his trousers.

This meant I was never tempted to leave school and get a job in a bank. And better still, because I learnt about the importance of taking care while in the lavatory, I have never once been caught by the ship’s guests with an embarrassing trouser stain. I wonder though what my economics teacher would say about the credit crunch.

Politicians, bankers and the press tell us there will be absolute chaos: riots, lynchings, starvation. It’ll be a world without power or fuel, and with no fuel there’s no way the modern agricultural system can be maintained. Which means there will be no food either.

Could he have foreseen the day when I will have to shoot some of my neighbors as we fight for the last packet of hot dogs at the local supermarket?

I do not agree with these theories and when it comes to the question of business I rely instead on my very limited common sense. For instance: if you have a product that people want to buy, you will do well. If it is too expensive, or ugly, then you will not …….. which is why Carnival consistently is named a best value in cruising…………it’s fun ……… brilliant value for money…………………….. and you don’t have to pay for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich………………………. The end.

Your friends
John, Heidi and The Thingy

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.