Monday, 19 October 2015

Travelling = Anxiety (2)

This is more or less just a glorified comment on my previous post Travelling=Anxiety.

Today I flew down from Edinburgh to London for a 10am meeting, flight left at 6.40.  In terms of my previous post there were two interesting things about this, since I said in that post that I used to be terrified of flying, and that things like getting tickets at the station might induce unnecessary anxiety.

On the flight down I had a window seat - I usually choose aisle but BA didn't let me have a choice without paying extra. I was idly looking out of the window when I saw two clear vapour trails right at the wing tip, at about 45 degrees to it. Staring a little bit I looked down the vapour trails and there was a plane at the end of it.

It's obviously hard to judge distance in mid air but I would say the other plane was maybe a mile away.  It might have been more, like two miles, but I don't really believe it was 10 miles, for example.  It was obviously at exactly the same height, since the vapour trail overlapped.

All of this was a long way of saying - if my estimate is anything like close to correct - that there was a horrible air traffic mixup and the two planes got way within their normal separation envelope, and we're lucky the two planes didn't crash.

Oddly enough, I recognised this intellectually and it caused me no anxiety at all. I suppose because any disaster that might have happened had very definitely not happened by the time I noticed it.

(It was flight BA2931 from Edinburgh to Gatwick on 19th October 2015, by the way, I might check later if it gets reported.)

The plane was due in at 8.10 and it landed 15 minutes early.  The plan in getting to the meeting was the Gatwick Express, which takes half an hour, followed by a leisurely half hour walk to the meeting.

But having incredible difficulty getting a ticket and thereby missing two trains meant I had 20 minutes for the leisurely half hour walk, and it turned into a hurried 15 minute run. Actually that gave me the chance to run and I enjoy running, so the running itself was no problem.

But the problem was the anxiety of getting a ticket. The concourse at Gatwick train station was madly crowded with four different places to buy tickets, and no clear signage. I ended up queuing in every single one of the possible lines. Yes, I changed three times. Three times I joined a queue and then left it. The third time was a correct choice, it turned out to be a line for prepaid tickets. The other two times were mistakes. Which I half knew at the time but I was too worried about the choice I'd just made that I had to change.

I had two problems. One was the horrible environment, the bad signage and poor staffing of Gatwick station. But actually that was the minor problem. The major problem was exactly the anxiety I talked about in my last post.

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