March 17th, 2022
We took it really easy on our final morning. We were not flying out until late afternoon so just took out time to pack up everything and generally make a nice easy relaxed exit from the Hotel. We were a little apprehensive about Kate’s and hoping there would not flair up again on the way to the Airport!
Fortunately whatever the cause, there was no reoccurrence today and the trip up the freeway to LAX was pretty hassle-free.
We arrived at LAX way too early. We had been stung too many times this trip by L.A.s charming traffic! So we just decided to get there super early and if we have loads of time head to the LAX Plane Viewing Park. This is located on the North East corner of the Northern Runway and has large Aircraft passing directly overhead. It is also the filming location for countless Hollywood films and is the most used Arrival in LA cut scene location!
There also happens to be an In-N-Out Burger there with a handily placed Sign! Parking is really tricky but we managed to grab a street spot as soon as we pulled in which was really lucky, especially as it was right next to an outdoor table and the car was filled with our Luggage.
Naturally, we took this chance to grab some Burgers too as our last In-N-Out hit for a while (we are heading to the East Coast for our next trip in July!) For some reason this trip I had been reserved but not this time! 4×4 Animal Style, Chocolate Shale, and Cheesy Fries!
After this, we just hung around the viewing park trying to time the perfect Photo! We decided to head to the airport 3 hours before the flight, and as the time drew near it suddenly dawned on us we hadn’t filled the car up! Oops. A mad dash to the Gas Station and then straight to the Car Rental.
Dropping the car off was nice and hassle-free and the Shuttle bus whizzed us to the Airport. Check-in was simple and fast apart from the issue that we had a rather large odd-shaped carry-on item…A Light Saber. We were dangerously close to our weight limits too, we were easily over, but also really close to the oversize grace limit! But we just squeezed through without charge, and go clearance from the ground team for the Light Saber.
Security was more of an issue. The queue was large but was moving fast until it wasn’t. The lines had split up to direct you to specific Scanners but one of the scanners servicing our queue had gone down! This slowed things to a crawl and the remedial actions of the staff seemed to only make it worse! Eventually, it got back up and running and we were through.
This did not really leave us long to wait until boarding started so we grabbed a coffee and just hung out at the Gate. This was the first Flight in a while where we had not needed to undergo any testing or vaccination verification. All incoming restrictions to the UK were now lifted and we just had to jump on the plane! It’s amazing how something you took for granted now feels odd!
Virgin Atlantic Economy – Los Angeles to London Heathrow
We had booked Economy Preferred seats for the return leg. Like upgrading to Economy Delight it was easy to see that by choosing this option we would bag a full row to ourselves. And at only £17.50 each this was a bit of a barging to get Wall-E his own seat. As this was a night flight it was pretty essential we got out own space. These sorts of tricks will probably dry up as flights get fuller and fuller!
The Flight took off on time and we were aboard a 787-9 Dreamliner again, and we climbed steadily over the Pacific with stunning views over Long Beach and the Queen Mary Oceanliner. We then headed inland and up towards Canada and Greenland. Due to flying against the earth’s rotation, it was dark in only a couple of hours with not much to see out the window until we arrived in Ireland.
Service was very attentive as always from Virgin. There were only 3 evening services, a dinks service, followed by dinner, accompanied by wine (Return of the Canned wine!) then an after-dinner drinks service. We would have liked an extra service to help us get off to sleep but we were pretty tired so just settled in a stuck some movies on.
We had hoped for an update in the VERA selection since of flight out but there was very little added and we were faced with the same bellow par movie selection. You know it’s a problem when you are out movies by Hawaiian Air!
Still, we both found something passable to pass the time and help us drift off to sleep. We both managed some pretty decent sleep time and managed to snooze on and off until the cabin lights flicker back on and it was time for breakfast.
The breakfast on Virgin can be really hit or miss, but this one was pretty good! A warm Cheese and tomato Croissant accompanied by a really nice chilled blueberry porridge and a tasty granola bar. Really they do not expect anyone to eat all these items, but give you a few in the hope something will tickle your fancy!
We both managed the Croissants and the Porridge, which is really creamy and refreshing after a long flight, but just pocketed the Granola bar for consumption later. We landed on time and were quickly de-planed ready to make our way through …a Brick Wall!
Welcome to England! ***Warning Purfuse Moaning ahead!
Nothing makes you appreciate being out of the country more than the welcome you get arriving in England. The queue for Passport Control was out of the building and down several corridors! After such a long flight the last thing you want is a queue for a queue for a queue!
This queue crawled and after 45 mins we got to the automated gates, which refused to accept my new black post-Brexit passport, probably because it was made in France! This meant another 20min queue for a person to look at my passport, who just shrugged when I asked why it was not accepted!
After such a long wait the least we expected was the Luggage to be waiting, no such luck, and as we hunted for the correct Carousel we noticed the ever helpful signs were saying Carousel 1 AND 5! Which is it guys our bags can’t be in two places!
Eventually, after splitting out efforts the bags turned up and we headed out to grab an UBER. Here things went from Crap to Carnage! 4 Ubers simply canceled on us as soon as we booked and eventually after one driver accepted we realized why! It took our driver 30 mins to get into the short-stay parking lot to pick us up, and then 45mins to get out again!
How anyone at Heathrow can think this is acceptable is beyond us.
In the end, 3 hours after touching down we were back at the Airpot hotel to retrieve our car! Utter madness and we just wanted to get straight back on a plane and head back to the States!
Instead, we had a nice drive up the M1 back to manchester where we could crack on with planning our next adventure…