Jeez, it was cold on Sunday morning walking to the terminal at Edinburgh Airport – admittedly it was 7am and still quite early – but even so it came as a shock. Last night at home was really relaxing – pizza, beer and a movie (avid reader of this column may pick up on a common thread here in the coming weeks 😊). Watched Four Weddings and Funeral, which hadn’t seen in donkeys and Harriet had never seen. I’d forgotten what a great movie it is, laugh out loud funny, mixed with wry, subtle and occasionally caustic humour, leavened with the tear-inducing poignancy of the funeral and W H Auden ovation. Being unburdened with any contemporary social, political or pop references it has dated very well and I think is as a classic of modern British cinema which not only did what British cinema has always done best, but also provided so many British actors with springboards to great careers in film and tv.
It never fails to amaze just how busy our airports are on Sunday mornings, as for some reason I expect the world to be having their weekend lie-in, when the reality is that the snaking queues at check-in and security are the same day in day out as airlines operate the same schedule at weekends to those in the week. That said, thanks to airmiles, I was in possession of a business class ticket and so breezed through security, copping many a daggers-drawn stare from harassed and already jaded looking passengers.
The short hop to Heathrow was brief, very smooth and uneventful, save for a near-miss incident which very nearly saw me emblazoning my t-shirt with the in-flight supplied fruit salad courtesy of the person sitting in front of me energetically going into battles with his seat reclining mechanism. Fortunately the kiwi fruit, strawberries and melon slices by-passed me at pace leaving the adjacent empty seat looking like BA had requested a redesign of their seats by Jackson Pollock.
The flight to San Diego was on a 747 and for the first time ever, on boarding I was invited to “take the stairs to the upper cabin”, which – and I’ll not lie here – felt pretty good. There are only about 20 seats in Club World in the ‘hump’ so there is plenty of room to spread out (you even get extra storage bins to put all your gubbins in, which if I’d known, I’d have made sure I brought extra unnecessary stuff with me, just to make sure I’d used my full quota of space…)
Take off was delayed by about two hours due to a discrepancy between how much fuel the gauges said was on board and how much was actually in the tanks. Now whilst some may have got disgruntled by the delay, personally I felt that ensuring there was sufficient fuel onboard to actually get there was worth the wait, after all filling up en route is not really an option when you’re at 11,000m or over Spitsbergen.
What a route it is though, at this time of year Greenland and Northern Canada are still proper winter-wonderlands, you can see the valleys filled by glaciers running into the sea and also the sea-ice is still very much in evidence – breath-taking, awe-inspiring and fear-inducing in equal measure.
I made full use of the facilities on offer, excellent food (no seriously, really top-notch, a standing ovation was considered), an extremely well stocked bar, a seat which moved in almost every direction depending on what comfort or position was required and of course more movies/tv/music than you can shake a stick at. There’s even a Club Pantry where you can help yourself to snacks, drinks and (yes, honestly) Magnums – comfort and ice-cream, what more can you ask for?
Finally landing after ten and a half hours, I somehow managed to get off the plane first and thought I’d be at the front of the queue at Customs, however unlike other US airports I’ve been through, you have to pick up your bags before proceeding to the rubber glove line, I mean getting your passport stamped. I thought my luck was in again when my first bag came of first, but then had to wait until virtually every other case had been picked up before my other one came out. Yes, I know, I know, 2 cases, blah blah blah – but if you’re here for nearly 3 months, just one bag is never going to cut it. Passport stamped, retina scanned and into the country. Yay! Made it!!
Let the fun begin!