Travelling by tube to Heathrow can seriously damage your health

I thought my plan was flawless. At 3pm on the Friday afternoon I would take the tube to Heathrow, get there about 4pm, meet David, swish around the shops for an hour, and board the 5.40pm plane for Rome. Oh, a weekend in Tuscany, so simple, so effortless.

At 4pm I left the office. At 4.20pm Docklands Light Railway deposited me at Bank Tube. By 4.40pm I had managed to cut across town to Holborn and, after a agonising seven minute wait, at last caught a Piccadilly Line train that would take me the 22 stops (and counting) to Heathrow, terminal 2.

By now I was well aware that I was in trouble. Anyone who has made this trip will know that one hour is enough time to get to Heathrow, just, but add on time to check in, do the passport and security business, and it was obvious that I was up that dark brown creek without the proverbial paddle. And all swishing was definitely off the cards.

I began to time how long it took to go between two stations in an attempt to work out an exact ETA. The problem was that while it took minutes to rattle between some stations (Acton Town to South Ealing calmed me, slightly), others taunted me with endless miles of track (the trip to Boston Manor was interminably long).

As my anxiety grew, I became convinced that people were deliberately taking their time getting on and off the train. And did the tube driver think this was a Sunday drive?

I called David on my mobile phone and broke the news that it looked like a weekend in Tooting was possible but Tuscany was almost certainly off the cards. He seemed calm about my panic but said he would see if there was anything he could do to speed things up when, if, I got to Heathrow.

He called back to say that BA said they could only contemplate letting me on board if I arrived with a full 10 minutes to spare, but that I could check in at the gate. Unfortunately David couldn't check in himself because I had insisted on looking after the tickets.

The last part of the tube journey was the worst: tube plodding along, the hands on my watch spinning out of control. Why oh why did they build the station for terminal 4 before that of terminals 1,2,3? Why are these two stations so far apart?

Finally the tube rattled to a halt. By now I had enlisted the sympathies of several other passengers who all stood back as, at 4.23pm, I jumped from the carriage and started running for the terminal and my honour.

My god it's bloody miles! My mouth dried, I became flat footed, my bag pulled at my shoulders. Meanwhile a la Anneka I tried to talk to David on my mobile as he guided me to where he was waiting.

With exactly one minute to go before cut off time, I found him and a member of BA's ground crew who was waiting to help. She checked us in and phoned the gate to warn them that they had "two runners" and warned us that the plane would not wait. Running Man was off again. If you were in the queue for the X-Ray machine and got hit by two hysterical men with overgrown hand luggage, we beg forgiveness. If you were the immigration official who got told to hurry up, likewise, sorry.

Gate 46 was, of course, at the far end of the terminal. But we arrived wheezing, sweating, and with two minutes to go. We were immediately followed by two more groups of "runners" who were all perspiration and apologies.

All the way to Rome I was convinced that I was about to suffer cardiac arrest. A stiff vodka saved me.

And then just this week someone had the cheek to ask me if we really need the upcoming high-speed Heathrow rail connection. Pah! Do we need Boston Manor, Hounslow Central and Hatton Cross? No, take them off the tube line now.

Jeremy Atiyah is in Iraq (honest).

News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there