The good thing about flying westbound is there's no jet lag. It's just a really long day,, with time elongated as you spend 11hrs on a plane travelling to a place 8hrs behind, therefore landing only 3 hours later. So really you're just pulling a very late night, and you're so knackered when you get to your hotel that it's easy to fall asleep and wake up already in the local time zone.
Of course that all goes to shit if you've slept for 5hrs on the plane. So, after going to bed at around 11pm on Thursday night I woke up at 1.30am and couldn't get back to sleep. By 3am Helen was also awake and suffering the same fate. We'd had a 6am alarm set anyway, but now thought, ah fuck it, let's just get the shuttle bus back to the airport at 6am.
Sadly, we hadn't drunk the free BA birthday champagne, so Helen left it as a gift to whoever would be in our room next, along with an empty amenity kit bag. I'd never think of doing something so nice, though even I didn't want to neck it for breakfast.
At checkout I was handed a receipt with my credit card number Xed out apart from the last 4 digits, at the top.. and my full credit card number at the bottom, under numerous occurrences of my name. What on earth!? Tore it into tiny pieces and threw it away as we waited for the shuttle, which Helen attempted to board too early. In the 7 minutes the driver said we had to wait there was time for a photo op.
And the end of our walk was the area full of airline lounges for long haul international departures. We joined the queue to get in to the Qantas/oneworld business class lounge, about which I had heard good things. That there was a queue at all was surprising; ahead of us was a group of 3 people taking a ridiculously long time to be allowed in, followed by a man who had turned up somehow 9 hours before his flight and without a boarding pass, thus having no valid way of getting in. He was shunted back landside and to ticketing and we stepped up.
Apparently, our boarding passes did not let us into this lounge either. The reason wasn't overly clear, but I already had in my hand a backup plan: if we're not coming in by virtue of our travel, can I get us in with my shiny card? Yes, yes of course. So she scans a boarding pass, lets me in, scans another one, and is about to go look up the airport code for our destination when I say "Oh, it's SJD" as if that's a normal thing. Meh.
The lounge is amazing. Like, holy shit. There are only about 5 other people in there when we arrive so we've got the run of the place and before we've even sat down a member of staff has offered us coffee. Really, for a business class lounge I am staggered.
Let's start with the food options. There's a buffet of fruit, pastry goods, hot fried stuff, pancakes, toast, cereals, juices. The warm and friendly staff member, without much else to do, keeps offering us new things - do we want pancakes? More coffee? Maybe a danish? Mostly we say thanks but no thanks, but I do let her make me a freshly squeezed organic juice mocktail thing - freshly as in, she squeezes the stuff with the juicer right then and there - and it's amazing. Within a few minutes it seems to have had an effect on my digestion though.
Bookending my visit to the loo I go on a brief tour of the lounge and take the photos above. The bar is staffed and serving (there's 4 beer pumps!) r I could just pour myself some wine or bubbly from a bucket, but it doesn't feel like sauce is a good idea especially with Helen still feeling a bit poorly. No doubt my experience here is heightened by how empty it is - when we leave, there's still only about 20 people around - but I really really want to fly from LAX again though just to spend some quality time getting shitfaced here. Plus I'd like to sample the non-breakfast food - there's space for some kind of manned carvery stuff up the way as well.
We leave the lounge a bit early and have a wander around the main bit of TBIT downstairs. It's not exactly deserted now, but nor is it busy. Seems like there's only a couple of flights leaving in the next two hours or so. The shops are open, and the central area is bright and spacious and really quite pleasant. It's a big change from T5's claustrophobic layout where you never really feel like you're outside any of the shops.
Back to T4, and everything still says our plane is on time with boarding starting at 0905. There's a few people hanging around the gate but not many places to sit. Just as boarding is meant to start, I look on the app and it says our incoming flight is landing after boarding is meant to start. Sure enough, the tannoy comes on and things are delayed. About half an hour later it finally starts, by which time they've announced that it's completely full, they might have to force people to check bags if they don't volunteer, etc etc. Also, since this is an international flight you absolutely must have your passport ready for inspection along with your boarding pass.
American (and Americans) seem to do fast track pretty well; priority boarding is announced and we walk through the crowd and on. They don't look at our passport at all. There's only 8 business class seats on the plane, 2 rows of 4. We're in row 2 on the right hand side of the plane, so can place stuff under the seat in front and our bags are fine up top. Phew, no need to collect bags at the far end. Travelling with checked luggage sucks.
Onboard I'm impressed, again. I had low expectations for AA's business class (aka domestic first class), expecting it to basically be the same as BA's European business class. But actually these seats are wide, legroom is very generous, there's large and modern inflight entertainment screens and they give you blankets and earphones and serve you alcohol while you're still on the ground. Inspired by the woman in seat 1F who I hear and see order a mimosa and then post a photo of it to Facebook, we order mimosas too.
Pre-ordered food arrives; Helen went for the cranberry cinnamon waffles, I went for the egg tortilla with chorizo and potatoes. It's all fucking lovely, including the "biscuit" which isn't a biscuit and winds me up every time. IT'S A SCONE, DAMN IT. Oh, and is it too early for a beer? Hell no it's not too early for a beer. I"ve given up trying to only drink unique beers all year, but as it happens this is my first Dos Equis of 2016 anyway.
The inflight entertainment thing is actually largely broken; we both tried to watch stuff and each system froze, then rebooted. So we resorted to the map, and learnt that Cabo is pretty much bang on the tropic.
It's like this. That thing with the roof is the swim-up bar.
Paco the parrot.
The restaurant attached to our hotel is one of the best restaurants in the whole area - not just San Jose, but Cabo San Lucas (the party town half an hour away) too. It's beautiful inside and we kick things off with a couple of mojitos. I don't like mojitos usually, but the blueberry one takes the edge off the mint just enough that I really enjoy it. While being rickrolled by a Girl From Ipanema-esque cover of Never Gonna Give You Up, we order food.