The Dreaded 4:15am Alarm

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No matter how many years you’ve been traveling, you never get used to that jarring 4:15am alarm call warning you that you have a flight to catch.

The upside of the British Airways bag drop closing a full hour before departure is that the trip to Edinburgh airport, to be there by 5:50am, makes for a light commute.

On arrival, the BA baggage drop area is nice and quiet and the staff is sporting their obligatory early morning smile. I try my best to reciprocate, but it is really early in the morning. I’m surprised to see that Edinburgh Airport’s baggage halls are still being refurbished, and I wonder if they’ll ever finish this airport. After check-in and having my bag tagged, I now take my bags a short walk to drop them at a temporary bag drop area.

Then it’s upstairs to security and the never ending lines of people. Thank goodness for fast track, although also mobbed, but moving quickly thanks to a very efficient lady guiding people to the various available slots for people to decant their belongings for screening.  Through in record time; where has that lady been all my life?

One question: why do we collect our trays, head to the repack area, and then have to double back with the empty tray, through the oncoming passengers, to return it? Surely common sense says that our direction of movement in such a busy place should be in one direction. A shout out to the designer of the security hall at Edinburgh.

Now it’s through security and into the shopping mall.  The drinks, perfumes, shortbread and a plethora of other goods make for an assault on your senses at this early hour. I quickly head out into the concourse. At this point it’s hard to remember that this is an airport, the ever expanding selection of shops, restaurants, sandwich places and fast food joints would make you think you’re in any town mall but they’ve forgotten to separate the food court out. Right now Shopping Malls circa 1985 is coming to mind and, yes, I am that old and it would appear that grumpy when forced through shops against my will at 6:00am.

Thankfully the sanctuary of the Executive lounge and familiar faces welcome me in; no shops in here. A quick coffee, a croissant from a selection of uniformly squashed ones, a glance at an email and we're en-route to Gate Six. 

Let’s discuss Gate Six, shall we? Gate six is a strange place, tucked in behind All Bar One and Yo Sushi, you can forgive the annoyance of the staff who must get sick of telling people that the route through their open plan restaurant is not the way to the gate. While watching the usual handful of people being corrected, my mind wanders back fondly to the days when this was an airport first and shopping mall and food court second.

The priority lane is clear and I’m onboard quickly and with minimal fuss. A scheduled departure of 6:50 with a 6:55 pushback and 7:03 on the runway isn’t bad for this very busy time of day. So far, I am impressed. Having booked at 9:00pm for a 6:00am flight, I was pleased to be able to allocate seat 26B which is by the exit in the row of just two seats. I didn’t realize that the crew seat would be next to me, and I mean right next to me, on the A321 aircraft. I don’t think I’ve ever had quite that much physical contact with someone who hasn’t bought me a drink ahead of time before.

Caught up on some emails and the flight passed quickly and uneventfully, the best kind really.

We land 15 minutes early, and I do love the song and dance made on the rare instance of an early landing at Heathrow. Now, let’s hope the connecting flight goes just as smoothly.