Oof. My head. I feel somewhat delicate right now. Could be worse, but could be better. As I type, it’s 7.30am local time on a Friday morning here in Naples, Italy. I’m here with Helen, having bought her this weekend break as a mystery-destination Christmas present. I’m gonna write up, in characteristic detail, our journey to reach this room, and then we’re gonna go get some breakfast.
The rules of mystery-weekend-away-Christmas-present is to not require more than 2 days off work, but I broke that by getting us on an evening flight out on a Thursday evening – thus requiring an extra half day off. So the trip really started at about 2pm, leaving my office near Tower Bridge and traipsing through horrible pissing rain and the effects thereof (i.e. huge puddles) with my case. We flew from Gatwick, so my journey commenced with a Thameslink service on which a beggar offers me some tissues, and which took me through the delights of Croydon.
All day my phone had been hassling me with alerts from CheckMyTrip, which desperately wanted to inform me that our 1820 flight was leaving at 1843, or 1835, or 1829, or 1820, or ...
Getting words in between this relentlessness were alerts from the Gatwick app, and BA, all telling me that due to a French air traffic controllers strike stuff might be delayed. Huh. We were already scheduled to arrive at just gone 10pm, arriving much later than that would be very suboptimal. Hmm.
Heading down from her work, Helen was running 15 minutes behind me so I used my early arrival to scope out the smoking area - she was desperate for a vape after sharing her train carriage with a group of Portugal-bound stag do attendees dressed as sailors.
There’s an a la carte menu for other food but I’m content to go fill a plate up from the buffet. Since we’re off to Italy I find it apt that more than half the offerings today are Italian: I have Sicilian meatballs, Florentine fishcake, pasta, and potatoes. It fills a hole but isn’t knock-yer-socks-off lovely.
There may be time to grab something else off the menu, and Helen does consider doing so – this forces me into a Big Reveal: unbeknownst to her, when checking us in for the flights on Wednesday evening I’d paid to upgrade us both to business class. That meant we’ll get fed for free on the plane, so it would be unwise to fill up in the lounge.
Returning from the loo, Helen informs me that the sanitary waste bin has undergone a rebrand and now says “offensive waste”. Wait, what? Jesus. Mind you, she’s lucky there’s a ladies’ loo at all: for a good two hours or so she’s the only woman present (“at least two of the staff are women!” doesn’t win me any points). It is an absolute sea of gammon.
Aurigny’s puffin logo is quite cool.
At some point I post a location check-in to Facebook with just the champagne emoji as message. One of our friends, Charlotte, happens to also be flying to Naples this evening too but with EasyJet, from the other Gatwick terminal. We learn that while lording it up over here in the BA First Class lounge, she’s in a Wetherspoons so busy that queues have formed. Something something other half lives something something.
Our gate is announced around half an hour before departure, which is going to be on time. It’s gate 1. Leaving the lounge we somehow emerge into the main terminal through a different door than the one we entered via, and find ourselves next to Boots. Grr. Gate 1 is very close and as we approach, boarding starts. They’re doing it by group, but so quickly it seems to not make much difference: it starts with group 1 and 2 simultaneously, and before we can even reach the desk they announce group 3.
Whatever. We’re on in fairly short order, find space for our bags up top and plonk down in seats 2D and 2F. Once boarding is complete we see that business class is very empty, only 5 seats of 16 occupied. We’re given menus for our food choice, which tickles me and I don’t know why.
- Mac and cheese
- Feta and peppers with goat cheese salad
- Apple crumble
- Cheese and crackers
All washed down, obviously, with champagne.
Actually, that’s not obvious. 2019 is BA’s 100th anniversary and to celebrate that fact they’re doing all kinds of marketing shenanigans, including having partnered with BrewDog to commission an exclusive IPA designed to suit airborne tastebuds. It’s called Speedbird 100 and they’re very proud of it.
I’d like some, but ... business class passengers can’t have any. Yes, you heard. I could have Heineken or Tiger or whatever, but the BA exclusive IPA is only available onboard for the folk in economy who have to pay (£4.45 a can) for it. This seems really fucking daft to me, and to the crew as well. There’s even a multi-page article on BrewDog in Business Life, the magazine only in the business class seat pockets ‘n all – but no, I can’t have the beer. Ho hum.
Helen went for the beef bourgignonne, which was reportedly very nice. In fact I can attest to that, ‘cos I had a mouthful and it was super tender and tasty.
It starts off with yer standard blue-sky-above-white-clouds.
With time getting on, as we fly over Germany things start to dim.
And then I realise, hang on, some of that white stuff isn’t cloud - it’s mountain.
Because we’re flying over southern Germany/northern Italy, the Tyrolean alps. Hurrah! Not quite as picturesque as flying into Innsbruck but still a lovely sight.
As we fly south along Italy’s spine, the sunset looks lovely.