Friday, 24 September 2010

The plane or the train?

We have mixed ways of travelling between Edinburgh and London at FreeAgent. Some of the guys like to go by plane 'cos it's quicker. Others prefer the train so they can work on the journey.

I've tried both in the last couple of days. I flew to London (City Airport) yesterday evening, then after a seminar at the ICAEW this morning, I'm now on the train back home.

Why the different methods of travel? Simple. I'm going home to Carlisle which doesn't (yet?) have a passenger airport. That means I have to go home by train. And I needed to be in the office as long as possible yesterday, but be in London in time for dinner. That meant flying.

Unlike my sister (PR officer for the Vegan Society) I don't object to flying when needed. (Sorry Manda.) I prefer not to do it every week but quite happy to fly if it's the most practical way to travel for that particular journey.

Next time I go to London, I'll also be going by train, again because I'm travelling from Carlisle.

But if and when I travel between Edinburgh and London again, which method would I choose?

I have to say I think I'd plump for the plane.

I was only offline for just over an hour while the flight was airborne. I could quite happily work at the airport before the plane left (especially given I have my new company iPhone). And it meant spending less time squished into a tiny space with a bunch of random strangers :-) Also, never mind the on-train so-called quiet coach where you're not supposed to use mobiles - on the plane you physically can't use them. So writing articles and blog posts would be easier on the plane, in a quieter environment.

Perhaps it's also because there's no excitement about travelling by train any more now that I do it at least twice a week, but flying is still something of a novelty :-)

Price? Book early enough and the plane has it! My plane ticket cost me £40 (British Airways, Edinburgh to London City) and the single train ticket cost £58!

The plane's only downside is that take-off and landing do give me the blue spooks.

So all in all, definitely the plane wins!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

British Airways needs a policy on big umbrellas

I'm flying from Edinburgh to London on British Airways later today.

Only staying one night, and need to get across London reasonably swiftly when I arrive, so am aiming to travel as light as I can, i.e. take just a cabin bag, no hold luggage, so I don't have to wait at baggage reclaim.

It's pouring here in Edinburgh (least it looks like pouring to this soft Southern Sassanach).

No problem, I thought, I have a big umbrella.

But that umbrella's too big to fit in my cabin bag, so will I have to check it in, I wondered?

Nothing about umbrellas on BA's website. When I searched it on the word "umbrella", I got marketing dross about "lying under a palm-fringed umbrella". I don't think there are many of those in Edinburgh. Or London.

So I rang BA's customer contact line (having found the number at the bottom of a page that took me through various website searches before it would show me a phone number).

The lady at the other end was very polite BUT she couldn't answer my question.

She said that the airport staff would be able to tell me whether:
  • The umbrella would be classed as a "dangerous item", in which case I could carry it on board but would have to give it to the cabin crew to stow away during the flight, or
  • The umbrella would have to be checked in.
I'm not taking the risk of having to check it in and make myself late.

Nor am I taking the risk of potentially having to surrender my umbrella at the airport. It's one thing to lose my shampoo because it's in too large a bottle. It's another to have to dump a very nice strong umbrella.

So I'll just have to get wet.


UPDATE: I bought a cheap small umbrella to tuck in my cabin bag. Then saw a guy carrying a big umbrella on to the plane as hand luggage. Bother!