Anyway. At Hatton Cross on a mostly deserted platform there’s a 5 minute wait for the tube to T123+5, then the long familiar walk all the way to the First Wing. It’s about 100 minutes until take-off. I believe I’m hyper-efficient at security, but reality would say otherwise. First off, my new trousers set off the metal detector even though I’ve genuinely emptied the pockets of everything except currency in note form. I go through a second scanner, then have a Geiger-counter-type-thing waved around me which makes a noise around an empty pocket near my right knee, and then one - and only one - of my shoes is swabbed, after which I’m waved through. Well fine.
Neither of my bags or any contents I’ve separated have made the other scanner go wrong, so I take my two trays and put everything back in its place and fuck off down the corridor towards the lounge. About 25% of the way down I think, hang on, why are my new trousers falling down a bit? Oh shit, my belt! Doubling back I get to the scanners and there’s a lass shouting “ANYONE LOST THEIR BELT?” just as I appear. Why on earth did they take my belt out of the trays? Honestly, it absolutely was not in either of them because I stacked the trays neatly and that wouldn’t have worked if I’d left anything behind.
Jesus Christ. Fine. Whatever. I’m in the lounge and I’ve grabbed a space near the champagne bar and I’ve set off to get something to eat. Said something is a big fry up, and life is really fucking good.
I hook my iPad up to the WiFi and attempt to stream more of WWE NXT Takeover War Games II, which takes a while to get going but eventually does so for long enough that I can watch, well, I don’t even know what proportion of a match because I don’t get to the end of it. Bah.
The reason I don’t get to the end is because at 11am my phone blows up in a “go to the fucking gate!” kinda way. It’s a nearby gate and they say it’s open, but it’s not, so I go for a bit of a wander (gotta keep those steps going) and, oh, hello, are you offering me free Beluga vodka? It seems you are. The poor guy thinks he’s genuinely about to make a sale, and his smile when I say “y’know what, I’m gonna leave it for now but thanks for the freebie” is a little strained.
Back at gate A13 it really is open now, and I join the Group 1 queue. A man in the Groups 2&3 queue is kicked out and loudly responds “well, how are we meant to know what group we’re in?”. “It’s exactly where your thumb is on the boarding pass sir”, he’s told.
Soon enough we’re let through the Oyster departure gates and then queueing up on the airbridge. Thanks to WWE NXT Takeover War Games II I’ve an earworm, it being Tomasso Ciampa’s entrance music. The practical effect this has is that I’m humming a guitar riff followed by mouthing, and most likely whispering audibly, the lyric NO-ONE WILL SURVIVE. As I’m queuing to board a fucking plane. In retrospect this may not have been the wisest course of action.
But no-one collars me under any anti-terrorism acts and soon enough I’m turning left, because this ‘ere plane is a 767 with two aisles and business class is to the left. I’m in seat 3A, a window seat in the second row on the left hand side of the plane. The cabin is going “bing” a lot. As if someone was running riot with all the crew call bells. I’m wondering if something is actually wrong with the plane, but no-one else seems panicky.
For a long long time I believe I’ve managed to avoid having a seat mate - on this type of plane there’s no real privacy in business; the seats are 2-3-2 and there’s no gaps between them. Eventually a man arrives in 3B; he falls asleep immediately and snores really really loudly. For, like, fucking ages.
I spend the best part of an hour squinting out at the parking markings for different sized planes. It shouldn’t be an hour, but 3 different apps have informed me that we’ll be taking off at least half an hour late. None of the crew have done so, but the apps don’t lie as eventually the first officer comes on to tell us that there’s a staff shortage amongst loading staff so while all passengers are onboard, the bags are not.
Also, retirements. Today is the captain’s last flight after 30 years with BA (and, I think, other airlines). I hear the Cabin Services Director also talk about this being her last time in this role, and furthermore this actual plane is being retired after it returns back to Heathrow at night. There are only two 767 planes in BA’s fleet left, and after today only one of them will be used and that finishes next week. Accordingly, for the next few hours all the mental notes I make about how best to maximise my experience on a BA 767 “next time” are completely fucking wasted. D’oh.