Friday, February 17, 2006

It's Raining Coffee - thanks for nothing, British Airways

So it's Friday morning and I'm in LA for this year's Gallifrey convention. It's a gathering of science fiction writers, performers and enthusiasts, with the emphasis on Doctor Who. The convention events begin at midday but things really kick into gear tomorrow. This year Gallifrey has relocated from Van Nuys [many miles and at least an hour from LA's international airport] to the LAX Marriott, which is a five-minute shuttle ride from the airport. The hotel seems nicer and more efficient than the Airtel Plaza at Van Nuys, so that's an added bonus.

The short flight from Edinburgh to Heathrow was uneventful and, happily, the onward flight also went from Terminal 1. That saved a stressful trek between terminals at Heathrow, which is never a fun prospect. The flight from Heathrow to LAX was... a little weird. The bulkhead above the area where I was seated started raining coffee - cold, black coffee. We were in a little section of our own. I had a nice window seat, the seat to my left was vacant, everything was looking good. Just before we took off, one of the cabin crew was swabbing the bulkhead above us, joking that somebody on the previous flight must have thrown coffee in the air during turbulence. Then the plane took off and the coffee rain began.

As we ascended a steady stream of brown liquid was running along the bulkhead and dripping down on to several people sat below - me included. Not a huge amount, but still annoying. And wet. And coffee. You know, because that looks so good on so many people. Of course, I'd rather it was coffee than something important to the plane's mechanisms like hydraulic fluid. Once we were up the cabin crew did their best to stem the flow. It settled down as the ploane levelled out, but I shifted to another seat, hoping to get some sleep en route. Except the seatback screen wasn't working where I moved. So I shifted back.

After several hours, I decided to get some sleep. Unsurprisingly, the cafe au dear it's dripping on my head started just as I was drifting off. I got shifted to another seat by the apologetic crew and given a form to fill in that means British Airways will pay for any drycleaning or laundry costs I incur. Sadly, the magical word upgrade was never mentioned. Me, I just wanted to sleep. But the caffeine precipitation incident hasn't made me want to rush back on board a British Airways plane anytime soon. Except Sunday, when I start the long journey back to Scotland. Let's hope they've solved the problem by then...

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