Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Splendid isolation in Bangkok - December 5, 2022
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- Discovering the lure of luxury at Hong Kong Airport and with Le Clos at DXB - November 25, 2022
It’s early morning at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 and it’s a pleasure to step out of the confines of my nine-hour flight from Delhi into the modern spaciousness of London’s flagship terminal.
I find a trolley easily and head down towards my well-signed baggage belt. It’s a relief to put my bulging, overloaded briefcase on it.
The trouble is the trolley won’t run properly. I notice the left front wheel keeps sticking and simply turning around and around. It’s still usable – just – but as I see a Heathrow worker pushing a long line of trolleys towards me, I decide to swap.
As I take one of the trolleys that he pushes into the existing row, he stares at me.
“What’s wrong with that one?”
“It doesn’t work. The front wheel keeps sticking.”
He grabs the offending trolley and tests it for all of two seconds.
“Nothing wrong with it.”
“Yeah, the front wheel, the left one, isn’t working.”
“Ever been to a supermarket mate? Ever done any shopping?”
“Ah… yes, I have.”
“Right, well there’s nothing wrong with this one then.” He rams it – and I mean really rams it – back into the line of trolleys.
It’s early in the morning and I’m tired and just want to get home. But I’m not going to leave it at that.
“Sorry, are you trying to tell me something?”
He comes right up to me. And I mean right up to me. For a moment I think he is going to head butt me. “Yeah, nothing wrong with the trolley. And you’re complaining about it.”
“I didn’t complain – you approached me.”
“Well there’s nothing wrong with it.”
“Look… it doesn’t work for me. You don’t have to be rude.”
“I’m not being rude. You complained.”
Clearly I’m not going to win this one. This man is a living time bomb.
“What’s your name please?” I ask.
“Phil,” he replies curtly, his identity badge turned around so no-one can read it.
“Phil who?” I ask. “I’m entitled to know – as you’re aware.”
He flips his badge around at lightning speed and turns it back again even faster. “Phil – that’s my name.”
He stalks off and starts laughing about the incident to his colleague. “You’re a great ambassador for the UK Phil,” I say in a weak and unsatisfying parting shot.
The Phils of the world – and fortunately there are few of them at Terminal 5 – do incalculable damage to the reputation of the airport and to the country.
So next time you arrive at Heathrow T5 in the early hours, watch out for a man with scraggly silver hair and goatee called Phil. He’s clearly off his trolley – and your luggage is likely to fall off yours.
And if you see a little old lady struggling to steer her luggage in the right direction, you’ll know why. It’s courtesy of Phil.