November 28th, 2003

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Wednesday November 12th: 'Homeward Bound'

> Skip to the start of the holiday

We checked in at LAX in plenty of time, as we'd got tired of flicking between five sub-Oprah breakfast confessional shows in the hotel and figured there would be lots to do at the airport. Well, you would. Heathrow has a branch of Harrods, for goodness' sake.

Despite being a busy international hub, however, Los Angeles boasted a Burger King, a Starbucks, a pizza place, two souvenir outlets and that's it. By the time we discovered our mistake, we'd already been processed through the ticket gate and our flight was already two hours behind schedule.

Investigating the upper level, which was signposted as home to nothing more than the various airlines' VIP lounges, we found a row of unoccupied, public seats with a grandstand view of the runway, which passed the time nicely up until the airport was closed by a freak storm.

We sat in the departure lounge with the rest of the Virgin passengers and listened to updates on the fate of the incoming London flight, which was already late and needed to land, refuel and stock up on snacks before taking off with us on it. After circling aimlessly for a few hours it landed in Ontario (not the Canadian one), and we were given pizza vouchers by the airline.

Had pizza, did some more aimless waiting, practised some karate (it seemed a shame to waste all the spare space and time). By now the more experienced travellers were muttering that the flight had to have been cancelled. It was 10PM before Virgin admitted it (the flight should have taken off at 1630) and booked us all into a hotel for the night. (Annoyingly, it was the hotel we almost booked for the holiday and turned out to be much nicer than the one we did book.)

The flight took off 22 hours after it was supposed to. At least I got a window seat.

We were lucky - luckier than the people trapped on the London flight who had to fly through a storm and land 2 hours' drive from their destination, luckier than those travelling with kiddies and much luckier than those whose holiday was just starting and who were missing a day of holiday in London.

On the other hand, my plan of going in to work on Friday morning was scotched, leaving me with .5 of a day's Annual Leave to last until April. Technically I could have gone straight to work from Heathrow on the Tube, but I wouldn't have smelled very nice and it seemed a far better idea to go home, sleep for six hours and thoroughly wreck my sleeping patterns for the next fortnight.

Still, fabulous holiday. New York next time. Or maybe Washington, D.C. I'm open to suggestions.

The End