Day Three : 26th March 2012
I’m not sure whether Classic FM is the idea radio station to be playing in the breakfast room of a hotel largely catering for German visitors. Who needs Basil Fawlty when the playlist consists of a military piece which, I think, celebrates the Battle of Britain. That bodes well for the Olympics.
But there is something very British about a hotel playing classical music first thing in the morning. For the Brits, it means speaking in hushed tones about their plans for the day. For everyone else though, it means a bunfight – literally – to see who can get the best value out of a continental breakfast. There seems to be a fear that the remaining two Danish pastries on the tray might, in fact, be the last two on earth. Guests jostle around the self service toaster, fiercely marking their territory. (Surely there’s a joke somewhere here involving the phrase “Hans off my bread!”)
The Heathrow Express has got to be one of the best additions to London’s public transport network in recent years. The only alternatives previously were an expensive cab or a long tube ride. There’s a certain charm to having your ankles bashed by the growing multitude of suitcases on the Tube as you rattle towards Heathrow. I tell myself that such luxuries are for another day.
The Qatar Airways check in has the air of classlessness, regardless of which class you’re flying in. Tucked away in a discrete area of Terminal 4 with Saudi Airlines, it shares an environment of good manners and service which would put most European airlines to shame. Of course, once you’ve checked in you share the same queues and checks at security as the next guy – but even that seems laid back and efficient this morning.
First class on Qatar Airways is magnificent. A folding table reveals a storage box containing complimentary drinks and snacks, topped up during the flight by a team of staff. Not that I’m in first class – I just saw it as I walked on board. Nevertheless, economy isn’t so bad either. The Captain apologises for having to queue at the south end of Heathrow’s runway. Even when they’re late, this airline exudes efficiency.
One in the air, though, a plane’s a plane. There’s only so much you can do to make inflight food seem palatable. Still, the staff are attentive and helpful – even to the Very Angry Man who they manage to smash the edge of the service trolley into. And no, it wasn’t me.