Leaving London

Heathrow Airport is an impressive sight. Its vast square footage spans several stories of open space, crisscrossed with moving escalators. At least this was my impression as we walked across the expanse to the British Airways check-in kiosks.

British Airways has the presumably “popular with everyone but me” policy that you can book your seat(s) no earlier than 24 hours before check-in. Well, you can if you pay $51 extra per seat. Airlines used to include checked luggage and early seat assignments in the standard fare and I miss those days.

Speaking of checked luggage. At baggage drop, we happily sent off our four hefty suitcases, each weighing a carefully monitored 51 pounds. British Airways is fond of the number “51” apparently. And so began our journey, into the so-called Dark Continent, the land of my birth, a place of war and crisis and warmth and beauty. A hot place, as it turns out.

According to my British Airways magazine, I am headed to the once-in-a-lifetime dream destination of 11% of people polled. African safaris compete with other dream experiences like seeing the Northern Lights (13%) and spending the night in an over water beach chalet in Bora Bora (also 11%).

I considered the dozen or so options for “dream experiences”. First of all, they were not all equal. Despite the awesomeness of each experience, a week-long trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad is not comparable in scale to a day in Antarctica. So I admit that I had trouble deciding which one I would vote for. Plus who was responding to the survey in the first place? It’s unlikely that Parisians would yearn for an afternoon in Paris. Plus, there must be other options for dream experiences beyond the dozen offered. For instance, my children would choose swimming in a pool of chocolate while they slurped it up. Although having swum in a pool of chocolate, it seems unsavory to then consume it. Yuck!