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Sunrise over London

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 by in India 2009 | 0 comments

As the sun rises over London — viewed from BA flight 9119 — the flash of the wingtip lights illuminates the light fog and the pink glow of morning warms the horizon. With all the chatting among new business friends, I’ve slept maybe an hour, blanket over my head in the surprisingly comfortable economy class seat.

We land in heavy winds, the 777 more like a ship in large seas than a smooth jumbojet … but the Captain sets it down perfectly, to scattered applause.

My colleagues go on to a morning event, free hotel, and more networking. I’m a bit jealous, as I scheduled a bit too tightly and must stat in the airport for my connecting flight to Bangalore in 5 hours. (The big question is if I can talk my way into the supposedly fab BA Heathrow lounge?)

As I leave the plane I’m surprised to see that the name of this promotional program (Face-to-Face) has been painted on both sides of our aircraft.

British Airways Face to Face Program

British Airways Face to Face Program

The rest of the group goes on to board a coach into town for the speakers, and I go from counter to counter to lounge to lounge, asking about the possibility of using the executive lounge. (It’s huge and beautiful with WiFi and power outlets, food and glorious silence.) But after 4 firm rejections, I am unceremoniously plunged back to the real world: screaming kids, uncomfortable chairs, constant announcements, beeping carts, and zero power outlets. It’s 8am Tuesday (I left at 5am Monday), and I just want to check email, update my dear old Droogies on where I’m at, and sleep. (I figured a little Clockwork Orange reference is appropriate in London.)

Of course, the cell phone dies within seconds. I wander the terminal, looking lost, in search of outlets. (no luck) I feel like I’m in that movie where the guy was trapped in an airport. At last, though, I secure a spot on one of the 5 comfortable couched in Heathrow Terminal 5. (Some planner realy blew it on the comfortable seating — visit Schirpol, guys!) I write, good old pen & paper, this blog entry to clear my mind, and I realize how useful and important Lounge access can be. As I watch the inbound passengers from tripoli — including one woman covered head-to-toe in black, like a religious Darth Vader — I realize I ‘only’ have 6 more hours of waiting, cold, no jacket no toilettries, no one to talk with, no connections to the outside world, no place to leave my stuff, no book, no clock/alarm to make sure I don’t oversleep, and if I leave my couch for food our bio-breaks then I lose my spot.

(the only comfortable couch in Heathrow Terminal 5)

(the only comfortable couch in Heathrow Terminal 5)

It’s a long, long 6 hours, but lest I sound self-pitying (although I was tired, hungry and bored), I do realize that I’m on a free 21,000 mile trip with the purpose of changing the world a little bit. And it’s all part of the adventure.

British Airways did an amazing job, by the way, of putting together this Face of Opportunity program. I met incredible, inspirational people on our ‘party I the sky.’ I talked to the Captain for 20 minutes about everything from UFOs (he’s a non-believer) to his experiences on the Concorde. I met more Internet gurus than I could count. And I made contacts that will certainly have a huge impact in what I’m doing. And I haven’t even made it to the final destination to handle business there yet.

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