The guy at fast track security had been extraordinarily friendly. I wasn't sure if we could both go through because only my boarding pass said it was allowed, despite being on the same booking. He told us he'd let us through because one guest was fine and we weren't taking the piss like the guy earlier with 4 guests. Then told us his wife has a BA credit card and racks up miles and when they last flew business class they went to the lounge and fillled an empty bag with food and drink for their whole trip. Easy now!
The departure information boards said there was a bunch of trouble with Spanish flights. Wonder what's going on?
I was in the loo when our gate was announced. Thanks to my idiocy I got simultaneous alerts from Kayak, Check My Trip, TripCase, and BA. To compound this Helen decided to take the piss and send me a text with the gate as well. Perhaps I'm overdoing things a bit. Anyway, it was gate 24C which meant fuck all to us at the time but now will flag warnings signs in future - the 24 gates (plural) are this little set of faux gates on their own little pier from which you have to get a bus to the plane. Grr. We got on the bus and waited for it to go, and once it did it just drove a circuit of the pier before going only another 300 yards or so to our waiting A320.
Plane seems empty. We're in an emergency exit row over the wing, 12E and F in economy. No-one sits in 12D, which is nice. The plane seems quite empty in general, and quiet, until another bus arrives which apparently was carrying only people from a giant stag do, all in their t-shirt uniforms. In other giant news, the stewardess running the business class cabin was about 6'4" or something. Christ.
The captain came on the mic and told us we'd be going a slightly different route to usual because of a French air traffic control strike. That explains Spain, I guess. I love the French. And because we were taking off to the west we had to pull a massive U-turn just over Windsor castle before heading out towards Prague. With "Where's our free stuff?" ringing in my ears I attempted to calm Helen down by pulling out the iPad and firing up Lumino City.
But then free stuff arrived. A ham and cheese croissant and cornucopia of liquids - water, coffee, orange juice. You'll note still no real drinks have been had in the making of this blog post. She had one bite of the croissant and decided it wasn't to her liking. The iPad kept us occupied for the rest of the otherwise nondescript flight.
Out the plane, along the airbridge, sign to arrivals points left. We turn right. Because of course we're not actually fucking going on holiday to Prague. Who flies direct to their destination when there's a stupidly circuitous route available? So yes, we turn right and go through the security rigmarole at gate A3 where our plane had just dropped us off. Yes, we're getting straight back on iand flying back to London.
This guy walked us on a leash like we're a dog, not a plane.
Some people other than me might remember that I've twice flown to Bergen in order to get the same plane immediately back, to "start" a long-haul holiday for significantly less money than the going rate. I've also done similar things but without turning round - e.g. flying to Stockholm to change onto a Qatar AIrways flight to Doha last July. Well, every time I've done it I've been flying solo; today marks the debut of someone else participating in the madness.
She's not that impressed, I can tell you. For a start, yesterday we had a bit of a faux ruck when the US Customs and Border Protection website told us she didn't have a valid ESTA to enter the USA, and then said she couldn't apply for one because she already had one. That was sorted out once we put her middle name in the "do not put your middle name in this box" box. After that I tried to convince her that look, everything will be fine, just relax. And ignore the fact I've just told you that there's a big red exclamation mark on our booking saying staff must be consulted in Prague to perform a document check. IT'LL BE FINE.
So we're there, in the crowded boarding gate area at Prague and they announce boarding for the infirm, elderly, and young. A large number of people creak up. Before even half of them have actually been boarded, priority boarding is announced and we join the fat cat queue. We might have flown to Prague in economy, but we're going back in business. Of course.
I'm first. Hand over my phone and passport. The boarding pass makes the machine beep and show a red light, and "Document check" on the 2 line screen. Where's my final destination? "Today? Los Angeles" "ESTA or Visa?" "ESTA" <tap tap tap tap tap> OK Mr Foreman, thank you.
I hand my phone to Helen, since her boarding pass is on that too. And actually the staff member still has my passport, but we'll sort that in a minute. As expected, her boarding pass also beeps and goes red and says document check. We're on the same booking, but whatever <tap tap tap tap tap>ing worked for me doesn't seem to be working here. I can see the screen from where I'm standing and I'm pretty sure the staff member ends up just hitting some OH BLOODY HELL, LOOK, JUST LET HER ON button and we're through.
Helen is unimpressed. I'm laughing my head off. I tell her, shut up, we're now through and boarding a flight to London - there's no longer any risk of being stranded in Prague, so the worst that can happen is we'll go home. But that's wholly unrealistic! And even if not, it'll make for one hell of a blog post, right? So we're back on board, this time in row 1. Fuck yeah.
Boarding takes forever. Apparently we two are bringing the average age down and speed up of this plane, full to the gills as it is of Americans of pensionable age. I almost let out a squeal of delight when someone younger than us walks past. All the Americans seem to know each other and a large number have words with the man in 1C, particularly impressed that he might get free drinks for sitting up front. NEWSFLASH: free booze even on shorthaul economy with BA, motherfuckers.
Talking of free booze, where's our fucking champagne? By now we've been awake for 6 hours or so and it's time to get on the sauce. Just after we finish ranting, brunch arrives. The woman in 1A asks for a vegetarian option. I wonder, is there nothing she can make of the default option? And then it arrives: entirely made of meat, cheese, egg, with one olive and one cherry tomato. Oops.
So now we're flying how I like to fly. Fuck that economy bullshit, champagne is where it's at. We both get not-really-antsy when the staff disappear behind a curtain rather than do another proactive drinks run; I peek my head through and say "Could I trouble you for another two champagnes?". The response is immediately affirmative, and they come with nuts too, but the most remarkable thing is that I would use such a phrase at all. Do I somehow become more British when flying on BA?