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Queues at UK airports are attracting plenty of headlines, almost solely for negative reasons and most linked to staff shortages in key departments such as check-in and immigration.
I’m going to take a different tack and actually celebrate the queues I witnessed at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal, on Monday.
On my last visit to the UK in July 2021, Heathrow’s food & beverage offering was a sorry sight, with only a smattering of outlets open and passenger numbers at an abysmally low ebb.
So it was encouraging to see expectant customers queued up outside the excellent Leon and plenty more inside; Pret A Manger as packed with passengers as one of its Hoison duck wraps is with ingredients; Wondertree, closed for so long, now full of family diners; and plenty of punters knocking back early morning pints as well as some good pub food at London’s Pride Pub & Kitchen.
No-one (not even, whatever they say, the Brits) much likes being in a queue, but at least they reflect demand. And demand is what Heathrow Airport and its food & beverage operators and retailers, starved of customers for so long during the pandemic, desperately need.
Fearing the worst in terms of check-in and security delays, I arrived unusually early for my flight. I need not have worried with both areas busy but any wait manageable. So I had plenty of time to walk the terminal. Here are my 12 talking points. The world tour, now on day 51, continues. Next stop Geneva.
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1. The Bookshop by WHSmith
No fancy name required. The shop sells books. A wonderfully diverse range of books. Including some of the greatest titles in the English language on a very good ‘Buy 1, get 1 half price’ offer.
I duly bought One Hundred Years of Solitude, the 1967 novel by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez described by Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie as “the greatest novel in any language of the last fifty years” (can it really be better than one of my all-time favourites, the magnificent Love in the time of cholera?) and Three Bedrooms in Manhattan, one of Georges Simenon’s acclaimed ‘romans durs’ (‘hard novels’). Quality reading guaranteed for the rest of my world tour.
2. InMotion (also owned by WHSmith)
3. Sipsmith serves up a treat
4. Walkers’ regal touch
5. Johnnie Walker
6. Sad and soulless
7. The human(less) factor
8. How time marches on
9. Smythson’s understated style
11. A disappointing journey of discovery