The Corner

Liveblogging Heathrow, in spite of no real need for speed

So here I am spending a Sunday afternoon in London’s Heathrow Airport, as I have on far too many Sundays in my life. It turns out this visit will be quite a bit longer than normal, thanks to President Bush. He landed here a few hours ago, shutting down the airspace of one of the world’s busiest airports. They are now working through the delays, largely by cancelling numerous flights throughout Europe.

There have been pretty acid press descriptions of the President’s airborne baggage train: Air Force One, a full back-up 747, a 757, and four helicopters. And that’s in a very pro-American paper. There were significant delays on Thursday here as various armored cars were pre-positioned. Yesterday multiple helicopters did a series of practice exercises for today’s landings that apparently created multi-hour delays as well. I sure am glad we don’t act like an empire.

Place yourself in the position of a middle manager at Sainsbury’s getting a flight to Amsterdam, who is now spending an extra four to seven hours in the airport – if he’s lucky enough to get to Amsterdam at all tonight to make his meeting tomorrow morning. A harassed gate agent explains why this delay is happening. Multiply by about 100,000. You can imagine just how much goodwill has been created for the US here at this airport today.

Jim Manzi is CEO of Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), an applied artificial intelligence software company.

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