Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Another spot gone (or How Not To Win Friends Or Influence People)

The Thistle Hotel near Terminal 5 was always a good place to watch and, depending on the sun's angle, to photograph aircraft landing on 09L during easterly operations or departing from 27R during westerlies. They have a terrace with tables and seats and it was a pleasant place to sit and have a drink and something to eat, while indulging in our hobby.

Not any more. No, some idiots just had to go and ruin it for the rest of us. From what I understand, a gang of spotters came onto the terrace with pizzas and McDonald's and when - quite rightly - challenged by hotel staff for bringing food in from outside and not buying it from the hotel, then got abusive. I have also heard that a certain hobbyist film crew set up on the terrace and stayed hours without buying anything, thereby completely abusing the facilities.

When I've been at the Thistle - during a day trip or as a guest, having stayed there a few times - I have always made sure I buy something from them, whether it's a pint if I am not driving or tea/coffee if I am, or a pizza. The terrace bar isn't often open apart from evenings, but there's a cafe down in reception so there's no excuse not to buy anything. That said, the bar's opening hours could be better and the reception cafe isn't advertised on the terrace, but that's no excuse for anti-social behaviour towards staff or taking advantage of what is private property.

Not only has the spotting community lost yet another Heathrow vantage point, it's also gained a bad name, which is worse. It's been bad enough in the past with inconsiderate morons leaving litter in places such as the green at Myrtle Avenue or venturing onto the M25 hard shoulder (that has happened!) or onto the ramps to the drop-off area on T5 and so on. We're losing places round LHR as it is, without people doing stupid things or getting verbal with staff. If someone gets injured - or worse - you can bet that, instead of working with the spotting community - LHR (and other airports), will try and drive us away which, in all probability, will lead to people trespassing on private property or getting into dangerous situations.

That said, I wish LHR would work with spotters and not against them. It does seem as if we are just tolerated at best and treated as a potential threat at worst. They pay 'lip service' with a ridiculous bus shelter-type structure next to the Renaissance Hotel on the Northern Perimeter Road, which is completely useless for photography, because of the trees and light poles and because it faces south. Okay if you're one of those who collects registrations - which is of no interest to me - but utterly useless for photographers. Maybe LHR will incorporate a viewing area when they add a new runway but by the time that's built most of us will be old and, judging by the indifference they've shown us up till now, if it happens, then pigs will be joining the airliners in the four holding stacks. However, that doesn't excuse appalling and anti-social behaviour, such as that towards the Thistle staff.

The End of a (Short) Era

The sad but inevitable news was announced on 14th February 2019 that the A380 would no longer be built after 2021. This is due to Airbus not...