The good thing about living in Europe is that it is so compact that getting around from country to country is a pretty simple thing. You can get to most parts in less than what it takes to cross America. England is just a two hour flight from Madrid, which is why people head up there as often as they do. As our flight made its final approach into Heathrow, though, I began to wonder whether we would get there at all. Quite literally. The trip so far had been kind of bumpy, there were storms in the area, but the pilot, who spoke the best English I have ever heard an Iberia employee ever use, warned us of this and added that there might be delays because, in his words, there are always delays at London airports. So far, though, aside from being tossed around here and there, it appeared that we would be on time after all.
It turned out, underestimated the captain’s knowledge of the scenario.
You see, just as we floated in over the runway ready to return to the earth, with the plane swaying annoyingly as if the cabin crew were fighting for control of the stick, all of a sudden, the engines revved full throttle and the aircraft lifted away again. Knowing that planes don’t do this for pure entertainment, I took this as a bad sign and pictured the images of our crash landing breaking records on a Youtube upload, with lots of comments with “RIP” and plenty of “thoughts and prayers with the victims”, as if that was going to do much.
Despite this, and to my surprise, I wasn’t freaked out, especially since the aircraft continued to rise and distance itself from Heathrow in a fairly normal manner, which I saw as being good since it meant that something about the landing did not seem right and that the pilot intelligently chose to abort instead of send us into a burst of flames.
I was disturbed by the thought that the issue of concern was the plane itself, but I hadn’t noticed any unusual noises being emitted. I couldn’t recall the loud grinding noise of the landing gear sliding out that so startles the aviophobics, but with two children next to me requiring my attention, sometimes you miss that stage. The pilot gave some reason about there being another plane on the runway, which I agree is never a good thing when you are approaching at 250mph, but I had my doubts. I think we had just plain overshot the runway because we were halfway across the airport and still two hundred feet above the ground before and there was no indication that we were going to get any closer. My daughters braved it better than me, despite one suffering from an earache from the pressure with such intensity that had she possessed a weapon at the time, she would have posed a threat to the rest of the passengers on board.
We circled around and came in again, this time without having to dash off into the clouds, but once more after sailing by terminal after terminal, it seemed as if we would never return to our planet’s surface. I had a right mind to stand up and shout, “Don’t you realize that there is no runway left!” But it probably would have caused the kind of alarm you don’t need and people would have remarked afterwards, “I think you could have handled that better.”
Some of my readers may feel that I was exaggerating my reaction, but proof of my worries came from the fact that, once we made it to the ground, the pilot immediately employed every means in his power short of his feet, to get the 75,000kgs of metal to stop before it ripped through a nearby field of cabbages. The plane came to one of those screeching halts with such violence, that no one even clapped afterwards. We all deplaned with our hair looking like we belonged to a Justin Beiber fan club.
From my experiences, getting through Heathrow is an incredibly simple procedure. There are plenty of officers at the passport control desks fielding the masses of travelers and, once past them, your luggage is generally out and drifting along the belt patiently waiting for you to retrieve it. As a former resident of metropolitan New York, I always estimate an hour and a half to get through these stages, but at Heathrow, you can often be on your way in 30-45 minutes, which was what we took. And that included getting a car rental; it was a slick fire engine red Ford, the kind that looks like it is going at a 150, even when it is parked. All I had to do was remember to keep to the left side of the road.