So the day started with the normal wake up early, walk around the block, shower and drive to LHR. There was little traffic so was a quick and painless journey. Having decided to use the “normal” check in desk after our experience of DTCI last time, we were dropped off and walking towards the UC desks. The whole of Terminal 3 Zone A was very quiet, small queues at Economy desks, smaller at Premium Economy and no queue at all at Upper. Very quickly checked in and were issued with boarding passes, off to the lift and through the magical door. No queue at the private security channel so were quickly through – I love the private security channel but how does the UKBA justify having 8 people “run” it? (I know there aren’t normally that many staff there). So into world duty free to buy the items requested by others, then onto the Clubhouse.
Up the stairs, check into the Clubhouse and for once, wasn’t asked if I had been before! Hopefully VS have been listening rather than it just an oversight by the member of staff. No staff at the cloakroom bit, so put bags in the cubby holes ourselves and then headed to the bit behind the bar, The Gallery as it is officially known. We were quickly offered drinks, Pimms arrived, but no Mojito as the mint hadn’t been delivered for the day! Soon after we had settled down a gentleman arrived and was very closely followed by a MAAS (meet and assist service)agent, turned out to be Nick Frost (Some things he has been in — Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul). We went over to the Office to print out a few things, on the way, we noticed that there were quite a few MAAS agents about and over heard one talking to some other passengers about all the “rules” surrounding Madonna. Next we had some breakfast, Eggs Benedict for him, and sausages and bacon for me. Both very nice, but can’t see how they could make the Eggs Benedict any smaller, unless they start to use Quail eggs. The other half then went off for a massage, where it was confirmed that Madge would be there later on and how no one is allowed to talk to her, must go through her assistant, all passengers get asked to put away cameras and no photo taking while she is there etc… Popped up to the roof garden, then relaxed in the sky lounge and made a couple calls. Boarding was soon called and we were on our way to gate 19.
At the gate the queue was very long down the corridor, thankfully the priority lane was in use and as soon as we got into the gate room boarding was announced so straight onto the aircraft (I haven’t been able to make myself wait for the second call yet). First onboard and obviously took the FSM by surprise who took a while to work out where 9A was. Soon settled and given a glass of apple juice as always. Plane was boarded a bit sluggishly but eventually we were on way to the runway, where we joined the usual LHR queue.
Once in the air, crew jumped into action taking drinks orders that were quickly supplied. The passenger in front couldn’t move her seat so it had to be manually cranked after a few power resets to it. IFE turned on and I decided to watch the Kings Speech – Very good film. Dinner orders were taken, watched a bit more of the film then paused it to eat. The watercress and potato soup was surprisingly nice if a bit bland for most people, the pork loin was a good attempt but not great and the apple and blackberry steamed sponge pudding was a really nice desert. Finished it all off with a glass of Baileys and went back to the film.
Listened to some music on my phone for a couple hours after the film and then decided I was hungry again, my partner was also hungry so we decided to have a mini burger each and eat together. Crew were happy to help and advised us it would be a 15 minute wait for them to cook. The mini burger was amazing! Why can’t VAA make all its food in UC that nice! Disappointed I didn’t ask for 2, but didn’t want to be greedy and deprive someone else of one like I had been on my last flight to SFO.
Back to my own seat and started to watch some of the TV programs, when the passenger in front wanted to go to bed but again the chair was playing up. The crew tried what must have been 20 times to manually put the bed down, before looking at another seat to make sure they were doing it correctly. They decided that a plastic clip was in the wrong place that needed to be cut off, but they didn’t have anything sharp enough to do so, so tried again about 5 times to put the bed down before they gave up and again apologised. While they were doing this there were leaning over me a lot and took a while for them to apologise to me but they eventually did. About 10 minutes later the FSM had decided as there were 8 crew in UC who had been bumped up on staff tickets (who weren’t being subtle about it), that 1 of them could swap seats with the passenger in front. Surely this should have been the first option after failing to get the bed down a couple times?! Anyway afternoon tea soon came around; the sandwiches weren’t as nice as last time but were pleasant. The mini cakes seem to of gotten a bit more adventurous and weren’t all just cake with icing on top.
All too soon it was time to make our decent into SFO, and we had a great view of the city before turning around and landing. The plane made it the gate quite quickly but took a few minutes longer to open a door. Thanked the crew for a nice flight and followed the signs for immigration. The immigration hall was very well organised, arrived with a short queue and was soon having a round of 20 questions again. Why was I here, who was I with, who paid for my ticket, what occupation do I have, what do I do in that role, where was I going, where is that, how was I getting there and how many dollars did I have. I think that was most of the questions. But didn’t take too long and was free to get luggage. Our luggage was off very quickly, priority luggage worked well.
Handed over the blue card thing and headed to the AirTrain for the car rental centre. Nice and simple system to understand and arrived at the car rental centre stress free, headed towards Alamo to see a sign below the Alamo sign saying my partners name. Quickly got the (brand new) car, handed over by the Manager. I would recommend getting a Cadillac Escalade to anyone, great car.
We were then on our way to the Bardessono in Yountville.