Recently my father has very kindly been driving me the hour trip to Heathrow to catch my return flights to New York. He’s pretty laissez-faire: I tell him when we are leaving and off we go. He’s not one of those irritating dads who micromanage journeys, altho this time, he might have warned me it was a Bank Holiday Friday.(Three years in the US, & I never remember when they happen.)
I was flying a day later than planned, so I hadn’t even registered that we would hit the M25 at 4pm: peak Bank Holiday traffic jam time.
We pretty much screeched into Terminal 3 on two wheels, and I bolted towards the entrance, barely having time to hug Pops goodbye. Then horror! The auto check-in spat out a ‘go to desk’ card, instead of my precious boarding pass.
With five mins before check-in closed, I & my over loaded trolley skidded to a halt at the end of a very long line of very loud ladies.
Managing to inveigle myself to the side of the front of the line, trailing a fellow traveller in my wake, he & I took the forceful but extremely polite route, waiting patiently for the vociferous ladies and their ten tons of luggage to be processed, but making sure the Virgin reps knew our check in time had passed.
And lo and behold when we were finally processed, they told us our plane had been swapped for a smaller one owing to mechanical failures, and handed us golden tickets – Upper Class boarding passes. Call me naive, but I was expecting to be bumped, not stroked with loveliness.
For all the flying I do, I have never, ever been upgraded. Sure, I’ve flown business for work all around the world, but an upgrade on my own dime? Nope. Not ever. Then again I’ve never had the balls to ask for one. I think I might start doing so given the blissful experience that awaited us.
A two hour delay on the apron in a seat with my knees up under my chin is normally enough to make me want to stick pins in my eyes back in Goat Class. Up front where the oxygen is headier, my new travelling companion & I were reclining full length under crisp cotton duvets, propped up by downy pillows, glasses of Champagne in hand as we gently perused the day’s papers.
I had forgotten my moisturiser, but no problem. Charming cabin crew came around with a basket of delectable Cowshed potions, lipbalm & moisturiser included. I slipped off my ballerines into the shoe bag so thoughtfully provided, snuggled down under my duvet and contemplated supper.
I have no problem with airline food. I love the orderly little plastic trays and dinky glasses, plus flying makes me ravenously hungry. In addition to my gallons of Evian, I went through a phase of taking delicate sushi meals on ‘planes in the manner of a fussy starlet and eschewing the hot meals, but I just ended up eating them as well as the sushi.
So to be presented with a mahajor four course menu and wine list, the contents of which could be consumed on demand is a sure way to my heart. My little table had a linen table cloth thrown over it, then a tray with more linen appeared, in addition to the linen napkin on my lap.
First up was a glass of Malumbres Tinto 2005 from the Navarre. Then I swung into action with a pea, mint & fennel soup, whilst watching some high class entertainment (Fired Up! – nothing wrong with a cheerleader movie.) Look: proper cutlery & glass because, of course, terrorists only travel in economy during a recession.
Then came an asparagus risotto with rocket & parmesan: ideal plane food. Pretty well cooked and creamily comforting. More wine.
Then a strawberry & cream roulade with wild berry coulis. Photographed terribly, tasted delicious. Like proper earthbound food.
Ah the cheese course. Photographic evidence would suggest that I had moved onto the Port by now. Perfectly conditioned Oxford Blue, Lancashire & Cornish Brie with oatcakes & grapes.
And so to bed. The long suffering crew made up my flat bed, and I hunkered down for the rest of the trip. I was a little disappointed that sleeping would mean missing the promised afternoon tea (Victoria sponge, sarnies, scones & clotted cream).
Cowshed & Port supplies to hand:
Oh and with Clive Owen in front of me. On the screen in Duplicity unfortunately, rather than in my cabin.
Thank you Virgin: I had a ball. And I met a charming man in the check-in queue who kept me amused before & during the flight. So, maybe arriving late at the airport has its advantages after all.
*Sound of my father groaning*