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Travelympics

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 11:17 pm

2008-9-7
11:17 pm

Lately I’ve been able to knock down my door-to-door time travelling between my apartment in Barcelona and the one in Brussels to around 4 hours. Today I managed a sleek 4:03. I only count trips that don’t involve taxis because taxis are cheating. (Getting Kristien to come pick me up is ok though – love is something I fought for, not paid for. Getting someone else to pick me up without paying them for it in cash is ok too.)

Things that help:

  • living a 12 minute drive from the airport in Brussels
  • living close to the first Aerobus stop in Barcelona
  • on-line checkin (shaves quite a few minutes of queueing off the total – time that can be very unpredictable and mostly decides your leaving time – and has the additional advantage of allowing you to carry whatever weight of stuff in your hand luggage, which will not get checked, as long as still *looks* like, you know, hand luggage)
  • luck with the Bicing-bus connections
  • instead of asking for window or aisle, asking for ‘as close to the front of the plane as possible’. Makes for quicker getaway. Not very useful if your airline does not dock at the gate on arrival – you all get on the same bus in that case.

Things that hinder:

  • traffic jams in Belgium
  • plane delays – I’ll have some graphs soon on my 3 most used airlines; obviously, though I hate traveling in the morning, the risk of delays is higher in the evenings because delays accumulate throughout the day. My worst delay was three hours and then a no-fly because ‘one of the engines makes unstable noises and the engineers are trying to fix it’ – I was happy to only board the plane after hearing they re-routed a plane from Russia to pick us up.
  • not arriving at the gate
  • security silliness – it definitely took more time right after the start of the ‘no liquids’ phase, and I remember before that point Barcelona didn’t even check boarding passes before going to security

It’s also interesting to see how wildly airlines vary in the time they allow between turning off the fasten seat belts sign and turning it on again. Obviously, this is my Zoney Hacking Time, so this matters to me, though I get strange looks when I try to explain this.

Heard this week over the speaker system of the plane: “Ladies and gentlemen, as we are currently refueling, we ask you not to fasten your seat belts yet please.” OK, obviously I was curious – one gets jaded after years of flying. But this instruction was so deliciously new and as yet unheard, I had to hail a flight attendant and inquire into this strange instruction. “Oh, yes – we ask not to fasten seat belts just so, in case something goes wrong during refueling, people can get off the aircraft more quickly.”

I think I was sorry I asked.

3 Comments »

  1. Alternatively you could stop wasting so much kerosine and go live biking distance from work and girlfriend.

    Comment by Jos — 2008-9-7 @ 11:39 pm

  2. In some countries (namely Germany) it is forbidden for passangers to be in an airplane during refueling (so when I landed in Dresden because there was mist in Prague, we had to all get out (they got a bus for us though) so that they could refuel, and then we all get in again).

    Comment by drew — 2008-9-8 @ 7:53 am

  3. Well, I think I remember reading in some magazine that you’re not even supposed to have people on the plane when you refuel. Wikipedia suggests that being close to kerosene is dangerous almost by itself.
    You know what doesn’t help travelympics? Living three hours from the airport and only having three bus services a day (this is from Benavente in Zamora to Madrid) and arriving at Schönefeld which is about an hour away from anything that matters in Berlin.

    Comment by Carlos — 2008-9-8 @ 11:47 am

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