We were booked on Virgin in Premium Economy flying from Heathrow, London to LAX. As we are based in Manchester this meant a drive down the night before and a layover in an Airport Hotel. We used APH parking to book a Hotel and Car Parking package. This cost £105 for a night in the Crowne Plaza. Which more than fulfilled our needs and then a quick UBER to the Airport in the morning.
We used the Premium Check-in which was very fast then headed to security which was pretty quiet at T-3. By the time we hit the shopping concourse we had around 1:20 before our flight just enough for a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. They announced the Gate and off we went to find Zero queue at the priority boarding queue and straight on the plane.
We found our rather large comfortable seats aboard the Olivia Mae when the Attendant came with our welcome drink. Prosecco in hand we settled into our surroundings for the next 11 hours. The Premium Economy Cabin on the 787-Dreamliner is laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration and feels very spacious. The Screen is large and the best we have used so far and actually seem to respond precisely to your touches, something often missing from IFE touchscreens. The windows are pretty magical and you can waste an hour of the flight just playing with them!
The Flight left on time and we quickly soared up to our cruising altitude. The 787 is quite a bit of kit and you can actually feel the in-flight acceleration and the climb to altitude was really fast. But this may be getting a bit plane geeky.
We routed pretty much direct to LAX and took a fairly shallow circle to just clip the bottom end of Greenland then over Nova Scotia Canada then approaching LA over Nevada and Las Vegas.
We will be doing a complete Virgin Premium Economy Review so won’t go into too much detail about the service but we were pretty impressed for most of the flight as food and drink kept coming most of the flight. (apart from a 2hr period where the crew seemed to completely vanish apart from a brief pass through to off water and juice)
The entertainment system on Virgin Atlantic is one of the best. There is a vast selection of the latest movies with a good few classics sprinkled in and a good selection of TV and music as well. While I was spoilt for choice Kate actually struggled to find anything she wanted to watch but this is a failing of the movie industry not virgin as all the latest just out the cinema releases were on offer. I went for a wartime double of Darkest Hour and Dunkirk, with some light relief of the Kingsmen 2 and The Hangover (a favorite).
Combined with the endless food this was enough to end the flight and the last 20mins was spent watching the approach to LAX on the Cockpit view 3D world map with flight telemetry and plane geeks dream!
Immigration was slow and clunky as ever but we seemed to be the only flight in the halls so being first off the plane, another perk of Premium, meant there was very little queueing. Our bags came off the conveyer pretty quickly and we were off into the L.A sun…only we weren’t.
The bags actually took longer than expected, and an announcement was made as to the reason. The pilot had also warned us and we knew from the forecasts before we left. Yep 5000miles to the land that never rains …and it was tipping it down!
We caught the bus to the Hire Car center which takes around 30mins in LAX traffic and we were very quickly processed and pointed to a row of SUVs and told to help ourselves with the keys in the dash. We grabbed a nearly new Mitsubishi Outlander which would be fine for the 3 days we needed it. And off we went.
As we cruised the Pacific Coast Highway, and Sunset Boulevard the rain poured. Really it was all quite surreal, We have seen these sights before in both person many times, and TV / Film on countless occasions, but never shrouded in minimum Visibility and pouring rain, we really had brought the weather with us.
We checked into our Santa Monica suite (more on this tomorrow) and headed out. Luckily our return flight is through Seattle so we have brought some warmer clothes and a brolly. We didn’t expect to need them here! We strolled down the Santa Monica Shopping center and headed to Cheesecake Factory for some supper. The actual time was 4:00 pm our body clocks Midnight. We popped to Vons to pick up some bits then back to the Hotel. The plan to explore the pier and Beach shelved.
We were in bed for 7:00 pm while kids played in the pool outside in the rain and as we were on UK time still passed straight out. While we enjoyed the flight as much as possible and the arrival had gone well, the day was just such a wash-out. Everything crossed the system blows off and the sun makes an appearance tomorrow.