After the most amazing holiday ever (we managed to pick some great hotels and I would greatly recommend anyone to stay at the Mandarin Oriental, and if you can, in a suite. The service was perfect and they must have the best concierges in the world), it was time to head home. So after a morning of strolling around SFO and a bit of shopping, we headed back to the Mandarin where we had left our bags and the car was to meet us. So with about 10 minutes left at the amazing hotel, Guy had very little time left in which to embarrass himself, but this was long enough. Having bought a toy pig for one of his dogs that oinks, he decided to put it in his luggage rather than keep it as carry on. This resulted in a loud OINK when he closed up his bag that caused a few odd looks and a couple of laughs from the staff. Thankfully the car arrived before further embarrassment could ensue and we were on the short trip to the airport.
SFO airport looks great, and was easy to navigate inside. We joined the queue for Upper Class but not for long. The check-in agent was polite if a bit slow, we soon had the magic purple cards again and clear directions to the Clubhouse. We arrived at the clubhouse, were asked if we had been before, having said no all the member of staff behind the desk did was list what was inside… Also asked if we wanted invites to Revivals and we accepted (seemed pointless as by the time we would get through immigration we would have about 10 minutes to spend in there). Once inside and sat down, we were again welcomed by a very polite member of staff and asked if we wanted anything, we ordered a couple of drinks. Now while the clubhouse is much nicer than many lounges, it lacked anything to do. Even a TV would be welcomed by me. We had some food and a couple more drinks. Food was nice as were the drinks, then they announced that the flight would be delayed by approximately 20 minutes. After 20 minutes beyond the original boarding time we had gotten bored and decided to make our way to the gate, though we were the only ones doing so, as only a few were left when we left.
It was great to see a clear sign for priority security and we were let into the start of the queue and when at the front the TSA officer was very polite and even joked that I shouldn’t be in the priority line as I didn’t have a priority ticket. It was strangely pleasant to see a nice human side to a member of TSA staff. We then had the choice of what side to join; knowing whatever side we join it would be the slowest. We chose the right hand side by the wall, and yes it was the slower of the two but moved quickly and once through the metal detector was greeted by another TSA officer with a smile! On the way to the gate we could see how little there was beyond security and were thankful for the Clubhouse. At the gate we waited a few more minutes before boarding was called.
Once on the plane, greeted and sat down (in 1A, Guy took 2A – both clean), I waited to be asked if I would like a drink. And I waited… and waited… Finally the member of CC that was dealing with row ‘A’ appeared and took our drinks orders. But again we had to wait a long time for them to materialise. Now I know Virgin is known for being the more fun and casual airline, but this member of CC was way too casual, saying referring to us as “mate” or “lads”, I hate being called Sir, but this was too casual for Upper Class.
After takeoff we had a quick drinks round then a hot towel round, shortly followed by dinner orders. I chose the soup to start, onion tart for main, and bakewell tart for dessert. I was told that the wrong deserts were loaded and that I couldn’t have the bakewell tart but a choice of lemon tart or lemon tart… Bad start. Guy chose the soup, the short rib and, obviously, the lemon tart. After about 5 mins our CC member came back and said that they didn’t have enough onion tarts and would I mind choosing something else. I found this a bit strange and annoying seeing as I was the first person to order, I know I was only silver, but me and Guy were the only silvers and only 3 golds on board. I felt pressured into giving in so I did, and chose the short rib instead. The soup was nice, though was a game of avoid the horseradish sauce in the middle, completely ruined a quite nice soup. Then it was the short rid, completely wish I hadn’t given in and stuck to onion tart, I couldn’t finish it, it was “bad” but it wasn’t “good” either. It was once this was cleared away by the FSM, who was much more polite, that I asked to skip desert and breakfast and just go to sleep.
Before I slept I caught a glimpse of the IFE, it looked awful! (Odessey) Extremely grainy and utterly pointless with the invention of portable media players and other devices à la iPad. Once I had made my bed, I managed to sleep for pretty much the rest of the flight and slept well. Needed it too. Woke up in time to change seat back to a seat, and tidy things away before descent.
Once on the ground at LHR it took some time for the door to open, then we made the long way to UK immigration. Oh what a joke it was. The queue was out of the hall and not moving, no idea what they were playing at but suddenly the queue disappeared and we joined a shorter queue in the immigration hall. Was the longest I have ever spent at immigration in T3. Still need to sign up to IRIS! Then it was a short wait for luggage, and bags came off first and got a few nasty looks from the forming crowd. By the time we got to the arrival hall it was about 13:45 so if the flight had taken off on time we would have had a grand 5 minutes inside revivals.
Overall a nice flight as I was sleep through most of it! The A340-300 is rubbish currently with the IFE, and looked more decayed than the 747’s. Staff overly casual, to be on the verge of rudeness. Wrong deserts and asked to change meal.