A brief commentary of mine is up at the BBC talking about the East Coast snow versus London’s paralysis. I’m also doing an interview for The World Tonight which should be available sometime this evening.
Basically, London needs to prepare for worst-case scenarios. And BAA probably isn’t going to miraculously be ready of its own accord. The Port Authority and Massport airports were all up and running within 24 hours of the storm beginning. Coincidence? I think not. It might not even make financial sense for BAA to be ready for serious snow (even if it turns out anything over .8″ was considered a “blizzard”), which is why they can’t be trusted.
As for the BBC’s fascination with my story about the coincidences of seeing snow in both London and Boston, it’s like I’m this guy. Only much, much less scarred-for-life.
I’ve been back in America for several days now (and thank God, made it home in time for Christmas), but it became quite an ordeal getting out of the United Kingdom.
Quite possibly the only snowplow at Heathrow Airport attempts to accomplish the herculean task of clearing several inches of snow.
The four-inch snowpocalypse at Heathrow Airport led to an air travel catastrophe, with more than half a million passengers unable to get where they needed to be. I was lucky enough to have hotels and such at my disposal, unlike the thousands forced to sleep on the floor of various terminals at the airport. But let me break it down:
It snowed four inches on Saturday, December 18. This prompted the full closure of both Heathrow and Gatwick airports. By Sunday, Gatwick had reopened at more than 50% of capacity – but Heathrow remained closed. My flight, initially scheduled for Sunday, was thus canceled. Rather than spend hours on long-distance hold with the airline, I opted to book a new one-way flight for Tuesday, connecting in Dublin and leaving from Gatwick, which was operating more smoothly.
By Tuesday, Gatwick was almost 100% operational, but Heathrow was still operating at about a third of capacity, and its second runway remained closed. I then spent eight hours at Gatwick waiting for my constantly delayed flight, which was finally canceled because it had been snowing in Dublin for five hours.
At that point, I thought I was screwed. From what I could tell and from what a travel agent told me, the next available flights were not going to be until today – Boxing Day. Thus I would miss Christmas, stranded in a foreign land. But miraculously, ten minutes later the travel agent called back to report a block of seats on Air Canada flights had opened up. We quickly managed to a book a flight connecting in Ottawa for Wednesday, and despite snow-induced delays on the ground in Ottawa and later in the air above Boston, I made it home for Christmas. We landed in snow, because flakes don’t necessitate entire airport closures. Continue reading →
Jetting off to London in a couple hours for graduation, so this blog will go dark for about a week. Safe travels and happy holidays, etc., etc.
Oh, and in case you missed it – today we cured AIDS.
Quintessential London: Big Ben, a Georgian-style building, and CCTV.
As what has been a wild nine months draws to a close, I’ve been saying goodbyes and revisiting all my favorite haunts (looking at you, Princess Louise). Disappointing as some aspects of the year have been (the academics, for one), there has been so much good to come out of it. As at other schools, LSE has introduced me to some of the smartest people I’ve worked, studied, and grown close with in my life. I want to thank them and point some out in particular.
- [NAME REDACTED] writes as the Hybrid Diplomat at Hybrid Diplomacy. He’s easily the closest friend I made this year, us being in the same program and sharing two of three courses. He is a true iconoclast, “not giving a fuck” about telling it exactly like it is. His candor is refreshing. And I will miss him.
- Shannon runs The Traveling Scholar, a running diary and travelogue of her adventures while based in London. On the one hand, her travels inspire some regrets that I didn’t get outside of the city more. But on the other hand, her writing makes it easy to live vicariously through her.
- One of the more fascinating blogs I’ve read recently belongs to my friend Jonas F. Gjersø, The Civilizing Mission. He takes a very empirical approach to the history of empire, and the charts he has produced reveal some surprising, but always fascinating, results. He too is embarked on a PhD journey; I wish him the best as well.
- The Occidental Oriental is another anonymous blog by [NAME REDACTED]. As an Afghan-Texan-Persian-American, he has some rare insights into the Middle East and the rest of the world. Definitely check out his current series of posts from Syria.
And to all the others without blogs – Ross, Jasmine, Mark, Erica, Peter, Michael, Amy, Rebecca, Kita, Jimmy (and yes, even Wen) – you are just as dear. Thanks for brightening my year when the clouds invariably set in.
One more special thanks is also due to those luminaries who have helped and guided me in the wide world of milblogging. Starbuck from Wings Over Iraq, Shlok Vaidya, Mike Slagh at Secure Nation, and Japan Security Watch’s Kyle Mizokami have all been as friendly and welcoming as can be. I owe them too a debt of gratitude.
This year has been eye-opening and a learning experience, one way or another. Thank you all so much for everything. And see you soon, I hope.