How I missed professor Stiglitz’s presentation

I was meant to fly from London to Zurich on Thursday afternoon. With a bit of luck, I would manage to still get to see the end of Professor Joseph Stiglitz’s presentation (Nobel Memorial Prize Winner in Economic Sciences) at the University of Zurich. I knew it. It wasn’t going to work. My departure was planned from London City airport.

It is a teeny tiny airport where only small machines can start and land. It was the closest airport to the location of my meeting and therefore ideal. Unfortunately, I was informed by Swiss that due to bad weather conditions it was highly likely that my flight would be cancelled. It was the first time this afternoon that I looked out of the window. Yes, it wasn’t a sunny day but a bit of rain in January really isn’t that unusual. It also wasn’t very windy and in the news too there weren’t any announcements about terrible weather conditions.

I understand that safety is the most important thing but this story didn’t seem to be true. I asked two of my colleagues about this. Two of them also had their departure that same afternoon from that airport but with a different airline. None of those flights had been cancelled. First, I thought I was going to faint but then I was overcome by anger and disappointment. I will not manage to see the presentation of Professor Stiglitz. After that I had thoughts about what to do instead. A flight change would mean that I would need to go to a different airport. That would mean a trip through London during rush hour. Only masochists can be happy about such an undertaking.

As it happened to be the case, the only logical solution to get from London to Zurich today would be to take the last flight from Heathrow. I changed my flight because my flight meanwhile had been cancelled. I mentally prepared myself for a dreadful journey. And my expectations were largely exceeded. There is no point in taking a taxi during rush hour. It would take one or two hours more than by public transport. But to take the tube, plus luggage is an unforgettable experience. On the one hand it is winter and I am dressed accordingly. Spending more than an hour in a packed underground train means sweating, sweating and more sweating. On top of that at some tube stops passengers cannot enter the arriving train as it is so full that not even a mouse would fit. Plus I have luggage. Travelling with the tube was even worse than I expected it to be.

Sweaty, hungry and tired I arrived at Heathrow airport in a timely manner. Time for a quick dinner. But first I had to go through security. Not enough counters were open and so the queue was endlessly long and the speed accordingly slow. It took forever. Now that I successfully got through the controls there’s no time for dinner. In the end the airplane started with a delay. The explanation and apology from Swiss ‘this type of aircraft does not have permission to take off and land with fog’ sounds to me more like a joke. What’s the point of having this type of airplane in Europe in January in that case? I am knocked out and only want to go to bed and sleep. I managed to do that shortly before 1 a.m.

Mr. Stiglitz I missed your presentation, I am incredibly sorry, I would have liked to have been there!!

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