Wherein Copenhagen is Unexpectedly Exciting, but The Journey Home Is Decidedly Not

Today I’ve been working in Copenhagen, Denmark. I like Copenhagen (and Denmark for that matter). In my limited experience, Denmark is just a bit more grown up and civilised than almost anywhere else. Sweden shares the honours, but as that is the limit of my experience of Scandinavia, I suspect there may be other worthy contenders I haven’t yet visited.

After a very pleasant luncheon, I found my self having to back-out a software update which had proved to be troublesome. With my departure to the airport for the flight home imminent, and in combination with some moderately frantic phone conversations with the development and support team, this was the main source of excitement for the day.

Fortunately, one of the people I was visiting was able to drive me to the airport, and equally fortunately Copenhagen airport is very close to the city.

So I arrived in time for the flight back to Heathrow. Just about. After some minor trauma with security having to unpack my bag and re-scan everything.

The aircraft was a baby Airbus (ah, my itinerary tells me it was an A320, so medium rather than baby – OK, baby plus), and it was fully booked. Once everyone was safely on board we were told that there was a problem with the aircraft (although it was nothing which affected flight safety), and the maintenance crew had to perform a certain procedure which would take about 20 minutes to complete. During this procedure they also had to shut down the main power systems so we would be ‘in the dark’ with just emergency lighting for about 5 minutes. Anyone unhappy with this was invited to wait inside the terminal for the duration of the power outage. I didn’t see anyone leave the aircraft, so I assume everyone was OK.

In the event, the emergency lighting was almost bright enough to read by, so no real hardship. Towards the end of the maintenance procedure it seems that a tool being used broke, and the engineers had to send for another one before they could complete everything.

Eventually we took off for LHR Terminal 5. During the approach to Heathrow we had to circle once before we were able to land. It was a smooth landing and we were soon approaching T5.

Because of the extreme lateness of departure, several passengers were unable to make their connections at Heathrow – at least 4 flights were announced as being missed. However there were 36 passengers on board hoping to connect with the flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.

In order to assist those passengers, the gate was changed from the normal one in the main building (A gates) to a gate on the first satellite building (B gates) where the Johannesburg flight was waiting. A good idea, but for the fact that when we approached the appropriate B gate the parking assistance system had not been activated. So we had to wait for someone to come and turn it on (I think it’s a bit like the reversing parking sensors you get on posh cars, there’s something to tell you how close you’re getting and when you should stop, only going forwards not backwards in this case :-)

Eventually we parked, only to discover that the jetway was inoperable, so we had to wait for a set of steps to be found and deployed so we could actually get off the plane.

When we did get off, I saw 3 members of BA staff waiting with ‘Johannesburg’ signs at the top of the ramp (as had been advised on the plane), so they were definitely making a big effort to get those 36 people to the Jo’burg flight.

I’m pleased to say that although I was later than I’d said I would be back to the Business Parking, I wasn’t charged any extra. I’m guessing I was within some kind of grace period, which was nice :-)

So, a longer than expected journey. Thank goodness I had my noise-reducing headphones, my Kindle and the latest issue of Wired to keep me amused :-)

Kudos to British Airways for keeping everyone well informed and trying their best in difficult circumstances.