Hello everyone, and welcome to 2004. I arrived back in LA on Friday 2nd
January and although I hadn't planned to do an update, the events of last
Friday dictated otherwise.
I arrived at Heathrow at around 9am and as I entered Terminal3 I was greeted
with a chaotic scene the likes of which I had never experienced before at the
airport - and this was the 13th time that I had flown from Heathrow. The
terminal was just a mass of people, you couldn't see where a queue started and
finished for any airline, you couldn't wheel a trolley anywhere, people were getting frantic
about possibly missing flights, staff trying to sort things were pretty thin on
the ground - in fact, it seemed worse than the M25 on a bad day!
I was extremely grateful that this time around I was flying Premium Economy
with Virgin Atlantic, and there was only 3 people in that queue, so I fought my
way through the sea of bodies queueing for normal Economy and was quickly
checking-in. The check-in girl explained that part of the problem was that 10
check-in staff had gone off sick and also the additional security around
I was assigned seat 70A on the plane which is upstairs on the Boeing 747, which I
was very chuffed about as I had never been upstairs on a 747 before. Seat 70A
was also next to an emergency exit so it had extra leg-room, which the check-in
girl decided to give me as I looked fit & able-bodied! Bless her :) So I was
checked-in within a few minutes, as opposed to what would have been at least an
hour's wait for Economy passengers. I went through passport control and the
security screening without any problems, but again the queues were longer than
usual due to the increased security.
Later that morning I proceeded down to the gate ready to board, but with the
plane due to depart at midday we didn't actually start boarding until just
before noon. Just as boarding was due to commence a Virgin rep announced the
names of four people over the tannoy, one of which was mine, and asked us to
report to the front desk. When I got there he crossed out my seat no. of 70A on my
boarding card and wrote 3A and said nothing more. I was a bit disappointed as I
thought I'd blown my chance of sitting upstairs as I assumed row 3 was
downstairs near the front nose cone. Boy was I wrong!
I boarded the plane, showed my boarding card to the stewardess who directed
me upstairs. This is a result I thought, I'm still upstairs. I went upstairs,
walked towards the front of the aircraft looking for my seat only to find that
rows 1 to 3 are actually in Upper Class and I had been upgraded from Premium
Economy! Blinding result!!
So I was sat there sipping Champagne whilst waiting for the Economy
passengers to board. As they say, it's a tough job but someone's got to do it!
We actually took-off at 12:59 instead of our scheduled midday departure, and the
Captain announced his apologies explaining the delay due to the increased
security checks being made. The stewardess came round, greeted me by name, gave
a menu for the afternoon meal and explained that the menu is called 'Freedom' as
you don't have to eat at a specific time. You can have your meal when you want
it, rather than when they serve it. There was also more choice than when sat in
Another lady came round dishing out posh headphones & a Virgin magazine both
exclusive to Upper Class, although I had to return the headphones at the end of
the flight. Another lady came round, dishing out a convenience kit and a small
pack of Virgin Vie cosmetics, and offered complimentary massages, manicures &
other therapies which I declined. I wanted to play with my new reclining seat
and have a lie down! It was great having so much space, being able to sit how
you want, to lie down almost horizontal for a sleep, etc. Superb.
Later for lunch, the stewardess laid down a table cloth & cutlery and served
the freshly prepared meal which came on proper plates. From the menu I chose a
Thai chicken brochette for starters, followed by lamb loin served with tomato,
bacon, puy, lentils, broccoli & gravy, and then I finished off with steamed
orange pudding & custard for dessert. Along with the meal it wasn't a case of "would
you like red or white wine with your meal", it was "what type of red or white
wine would you like with your meal"! Ahh, bliss. The only problem was I had to
drive when I arrived in LA so I made do with a single glass of wine as my only
alcohol intake for the rest of the flight.
The rest of the flight went like a dream, the 11 hours passed more quickly
than any other flight to the west coast that I had been on before. Freshly
brewed tea & coffee was served on request, the leather-backed seat came with its
own instruction manual there were so many buttons to press, the only disconcerting thing was the Skymap where you
view where the plane is in relation to the Earth. We seemed to be stuck over
Scotland for a very long time. Actually 9 hours into the flight it showed we
were still over Scotland but thankfully the pilot came on over the PA system to
say that it had failed and we were really over the USA!
The plane landed safely in Los Angeles, and although I was let off the plane
before the Economy passengers it didn't prevent the long, slow wait through US
immigration & customs. I was then greeted by typical English weather when I got
outside, i.e. cold, wet & foggy! Nevertheless, Saturday & Sunday have been
two gloriously sunny days, if a little on the cool side, so I've been out and
about taking some photographs which you can see
I've also updated my database of
That's all for now, so until the next instalment goodbye and take care.