Impressed by Gatwick Airport

I flew into Gatwick Airport on an Emirates A380 a couple of days ago and was impressed by the experience.

From landing to being on a train to our final destination in 30 minutes.

Much less than the hour that I typically estimate to get out of an airport after an international flight.

We did WIN the carousel Lotto with our checked bags* being among the first few bags down the chute

Automatic Gates

The new automatic gates, with facial recognition technology, for those of us who have a chip passport were really slick.

Much better than the clunky two stage system installed at Australian Airports.

Automated Shuttle

The shuttle from the North Terminal to the South terminal was also very convenient .

It drops you a few steps away from the station which has frequent trains to London as well as the south coast, where we were heading.

Bad Point

The only criticism was that as you arrive in the baggage hall there is no visible message board telling you which carousel to go to.

We had to fight our way through a stream of passengers from another flight to find a board; which then told us to retrace our steps!

*Yes I did check in a bag, but we are travelling for five weeks, and I like to avoid wearing shirts too often.

Farting on Planes

You might not be farting (a more technical term is ‘High Altitude Flatus Expulsion’) on the plane, but everyone else is!

I’m told some flight attendants refer to the smell as ‘Eau de Boeing’.

Why It Happens

Basically on a plane flying at 10,000 m the air is only pressurised to 2,000 – 3,000m altitude rather than sea level..

If you have ever taken a bag of potato crisps on a plane you will see the pack which has been manufactured with air at sea level is now ‘inflated’ as tight as a drum.

Well the same applies with the gases in your gut, which makes you more likely to fart and feel bloated.

What Can You Do?

Prevention methods include:

Holding back a fart can lead to discomfort, pain, more bloating, and a final ‘explosive result’.

A little fart shouldn’t be too much of a problem as aircraft ventilation systems pull air from the ceiling to extraction point in the floor, away from sensitive noses!

Anyway everyone else has the same problem.

Using Points for International Upgrades

I don’t consider using frequent flyer points for domestic flight upgrades as I can put up with an economy seat for 4 hours.

Long haul is a different matter and I have upgraded several times.

When Do You Get Upgraded?

Your request will only be processed in the day or two prior prior to the flight as they are hoping that there will be a late full fare booking to fill any vacant seats.

Often I have only found out I have been approved at check in.

Status Matters

Often there are more people wanting an upgrade with points than there are seats available.

Qantas along with every other airline gives first opportunity to higher status members.

So its first chance to Chairman’s Lounge members ; followed by Platinum One members, Platinum members, Gold members, then Silver and finally Bronze.

Other Factors

It is not really clear; but I believe that your fare class can influence your chances, with a budget fare booked months in advance being less likely to be allowed to upgraded than an expensive fare booked within a short time of the flight..

I’ve also found its often easier to get an upgrade for a single cabin level improvement so going from Economy to Premium Economy is easier than going from Economy to Business.

Remember The Tissues

When I am travelling overseas I normally have a couple of packets of tissues like these in my pockets.

Or they are in a day pack if I am off for a swim.

If you have been caught short in a squat toilet with no paper you will understand their importance.

Where To Get Them

You will find that you can buy packets fairly easy in most countries.

Often, in Asia, you will find some old poor people going round selling them so why not help them out and buy a couple of packets?

In Hong Kong you will often find you get a packet, with your change, in a convenience store.

How Much Can You Afford to Lose?

I have never been robbed yet . . . . . is it because I’m lucky? . . . . . . perhaps I am more aware? . . . . . perhaps I am more careful?

I don’t really know. . . . . but that doesn’t stop me taking some precautions.

Something I’m Prepared To Lose

When I am overseas I generally have more cash than I have at home.

Cancelling credit cards can be slower and more difficult.

For that reason the wallet I use overseas is one I am prepared to lose.

It contains enough to make it look convincing as my only source of funds:

  • Cash – Only enough to cover my expected spend for the day; say $100 – $150 dollars.
  • Credit Cards – Cancelled or expired ones only.
  • Hotel Key Card – A souvenir from a hotel stay years ago.
  • Frequent Flyer Card – Not valuable

I still take the normal precautions against pickpockets with the wallet in the front pocket of my trousers.

However if my pocket was picked, or even if I was threatened for for my wallet I would be a little disappointed, but it would be an acceptable loss.

Much better than being injured, or killed trying to protect it.

A Stash

In addition to the ‘Wallet’ I do have a ‘Stash’ of another $100-$150 dollars, my genuine credit card, and the real hotel key card.

I keep this in a small zip lock bag which fits in a tiny inconspicuous pocket inside the waistband of my trousers.

Travel Hack

A secondary advantage of keeping only a small amount of cash in your wallet is when you are bargaining.

You can use the line “I’m almost spent up as you can see!”

Bring a Brolly

I never used to take an umbrella when I travelled, but over the last couple of years I have changed my mind.

I now take a folding umbrella like this one for a few reasons.


If you are crossing a road a hood can really restrict your vision . . . . . which becomes more important when you are overseas, and might have forgotten traffic may be coming from a different direction.


In the tropics a waterproof jacket can get very hot and sweaty.

A much better combination is a T-shirt or Polo Shirt with an umbrella.

Appreciation of surroundings

When I am in a new place I am constantly looking at things around me.

With an umbrella you only have to turn your head to see things, not move your entire body.


Since I had a cancer removed from my chin I am more conscious of the effects of the sun and the umbrella can provide more shade.

Extra Weight?

Well it’s only a few hundred grams, and it fits in my coat pocket so it doesn’t count in my carry on weight total.