And so the journey begins. The airport is throbbing, even the Mahaba lounge is full of tired travellers jostling for a seat and the free buffet. The fun part is people watching, guessing people's stories. Take the guy over there, sharing a table with a woman he has never met before. My goodness, he could bore for England; giving her his sales pitch, his 'hey, look at me, I'm a really interesting person'. I'll bet she can't wait for the gate to open to take her flight. You watch the tourists, the only ones stupid enough to be in the not-so-duty-free shop. The MTMs (married the maid) men on their first trip to the Phillipines, wondering if the novelty of the nocturnal incentives is starting to wear off.
The best bit is getting on the plane first and watching all of the muppets who just don't seem to be able to work out the seating plan. Here's a clue for you: it's in numerical order. And then of course there's the overhead locker to contend with and there is always one passenger who gets on last with two or three large suitcases and delays the take off trying to find somewhere to put them. The exasperated air stewardess grimacing whilst trying to maintain her polite demeanour, grappling around trying to find a space in the already crammed lockers.
At last the doors close and you can take off. You think you're safe to relax and begin watching the movies and then you are interuppted by the safety video and a film entitled 'short history of Emirates' that is not so short.
Seven hours of films you've seen before, mediocre food, cramped conditions and the tedium of wanting to be somewhere five minutes ago. But when you step off that plane and take your first lungful of British fresh air, it's all suddenly worth it. The land of hope and glory lies before you, so open your umbrella, put on your cardigan and rush into the arms of the relatives you haven't seen for a year. Seven hour flight? Washed away by the first welcome home kiss.