Every cloud has a silver lining

I flew home last week for a Christmas break with family and friends. I had booked myself onto a low cost carrier (HLX) back to Manchester and then BA from Manchester back to the Isle of Man the following day. After queuing in the wrong line for about 15 minutes (Who'd have thought that 'All Flights' actually meant 'All Flights - except Manchester, which has a huge great big queue, the next aisle down'), then another 30 in the right line, I made it swiftly through to the departure area. The queue to go through passport control was short but soon grew as the guards started to become concerned that the guy in front's passport may be fake. It took them at least 20 minutes of inspection before they gave this guy his passport back. They were easier on me but still looked suspiciously at my rather worn passport under the glare of a UV light and magnifying glass.

The flight was delayed a while, as it later turned out that the inbound flight had some technical difficulties. What that meant though was that the full plane-load of people actually got to travel in a much more spacious backup plane operated by the parent company, Hapag Fly.

I watched with interest as the overhead screens (once they'd finished playing random Christmas music videos) started to show our location and proposed route into Manchester. This plane locator, it turned out, went miles beyond anything I'd seen on flights in the past. To start with it showed the standard plane, pointing in the direction of travel, on top of a satellite image of Europe. Part way into the flight it began to show something more interesting - virtual views out of the side windows and out of the cockpit, using detailed satellite imagery. I thought it was a great use of geographic data, especially on flights where you're going overland and where the view is obscured either by cloud or just by the fact that you're flying through the night.