Welcome back to the United Kingdom
Back in the Groove
- Something a little different? Maybe…
- Off to the Land of Milk and Honey. I mean Heathrow Terminal 5
- British Airways Galleries Lounge (South Lounge Complex)
- British Airways BA295 – London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare (Club World)
- Into the USA, Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- The Wonder of Micro Center
- More Food Adventures in Chicago
- Exploring China Town in Chicago
- Returning to the wonderful Chicago O’Hare Terminal 5
- British Airways Terraces Lounge, Chicago O’Hare T5
- British Airways BA296 – Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow T5 (World Traveller Plus)
- Welcome back to the United Kingdom
- Well, that’s a bit different
I headed off the aircraft and down the jetbridge until it met with the other passengers getting off, entering Heathrow at Terminal 5C.
Don’t bother lighting up yet.
Now, whilst planes are wonderful, their toilets in normal classes of travel are not. Therefore, the first priority for me was the small room.
Thankfully there was one right next door to the gate. That was a relief… in more ways than one.
With body and mind revived, it was time to head to the transit system and back to Terminal 5 A to enter the United Kingdom. I could have walked; however, the hand baggage was heavy enough… and I’m sure I could make my step count later in the evening.
A short ride on the transit system and I was deposited at the T5A station. From here, it was time to head up the elevator (which is the quickest way up at Heathrow) and to the UK Border.
Lifts are always quicker!
Do I stay or do I go now?
Choose your own adventure.
The e-gates were doing good business, but as my passport is in a state where a manual check is needed, I headed to the rejects queue.
I was seen straight away and was cleared to re-enter the country. The nasty part of immigration was done and dusted in under three minutes.
Also available on Weibo and WeChat.
Now comes the fun part – the wait for luggage. I headed down to the luggage belts and pulled up a trolley. And waited.
And briefly considered getting cash out… rapidly decided against that action.
£2.50 for a cash withdrawal? Seriously? I was angry enough about this to write for once…
And filled a bottle of water.
Finally, 45 minutes after I had landed, bags started to be spat out onto the belt. My bags were thankfully not far behind, and soon enough both the big and smaller bags were on my luggage trolley.
We’ll be together again. I’ve been waiting for a long time…
I also took this point to re-attach the strap for the bag that I took off at O’Hare.
With everything gathered, I proceeded to UK Customs and through to the exit to the public area.
Last chance to buy at Duty-Free Prices!
I also checked the time – there were about 30 minutes left before my coach was due to depart from Heathrow. I dismissed the idea of grabbing a mug of coffee to wake up (whilst I might enjoy commercial-grade coffee, there’s something I hate – and that’s throwing away coffee).
Ah. The public area. Dry.
Instead, I spent the time stretching a bit, before wandering out to a wet London and the coach stop.
My timing was perfect as the 210 from Gatwick Airport to Wolverhampton had just pulled in to take me back to Birmingham.
I queued up to have my ticket checked and my bags put into the belly of the coach.
With that, I climbed aboard the coach and found a pair of seats that weren’t occupied.
The driver was a rather jovial nature, with a fair bit of banter, as well as conveyancing the safety messages. It made a difference to an otherwise boring journey up the M40.
The coach made its way through the wet weather to Heathrow Central, then travel to the M25 and M40 to head to the two Oxford stops, Birmingham Airport and finally, Digbeth International for Birmingham.
I’m also sometimes asked why I don’t do an Uber back to Birmingham. Here’s why:
Unless you’re willing to sponsor this Uber ride, I’ll stick to the coach.
I did have a minor fear the coach would pack out at Heathrow – but thankfully, there was space for everyone as it departed from Heathrow.
From there, it was onto the M4, the M25 and M40. Familiar territory – even to readers of this blog by now,
The coach pulled off the M40 as it headed towards Oxford, dropping off a passenger at a Park and Ride stop, then heading into Central Oxford itself.
All I ever see of Oxford… Well, that and the bus station.
With more passengers boarding and disembarking, it was nice to see the place in the daylight. Rare for me, I know.
Loaded up with passengers, the coach proceeded onto Birmingham Airport – thankfully the stop at Banbury had been abolished, as well as the one at Coventry (it was one way to extend a long journey as it was). It means also dealing with peak-time Birmingham traffic.
And that includes traffic in the Birmingham Box, which had slowed to a crawl thanks to roadworks.
Eventually, the coach made it to the airport, where a driver swap occurred.
The next driver decided to prolong the motorway agony – rather than taking the A45 (the local route into the city), he chose the M42 and M6 – both a bit slow-running and adding further distance).
Coming into Birmingham
Around 15 minutes late the coach finally pulled into Digbeth Coach station.
It took a little time to get my luggage, but eventually, all my baggage was reunited.
From here it was time to engage with the worst part of the journey home – dealing with the Birmingham hackney carriage owners. Honestly – I was not in the mood to do an Uber or Ola (mainly, as it was creeping into peak time along with surge pricing).
In the end, I had the equivalent of the “I don’t go south of the river” discussion with the driver (who was dead set against going through roadworks).
I also saw he snuck on a cheeky additional charge. After going through a few back streets and going alternative ways (and the driver only partially listening to me, I arrived at my flat entrance.
The perfect time to challenge the driver on the fare, as there was no fare sheet displayed – a big no-no. He relented and charged me the base fare of £12.
With that, I wheeled in my baggage, arriving at my front door.
And promptly collapsed in my bed.
It wouldn’t be until 9 pm till I rose.
Finally: That’s a little different.
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