Thursday, May 24th
We are all up and showered, had breakfast, packed the car, and are ready to go. Way. Too. Early. We’re not too anxious, are we? The bus is picking us up at a centrally located meeting point at 11:45. We are out the door for the LONG 5 minute drive to this meeting place at 10:45. Oh no, we’re not too anxious!
The bus is scheduled to leave at noon so that our group can be in line at the British Airways check in as soon as they open. Because this was booked as a group, we cannot check in individually on-line, therefore making it difficult for the people in the group with physical limitation issues (aside from Dot, there are at least two others who will have difficulties moving to the back of the plane and getting through the airport). We arrive at the airport at 1, only to find out that British Airways doesn’t open their check in desk until 1:30 – 2:00. The people are fit to be tied, especially Steve, our illustrious leader, who seems like he wants everything to run smoothly and according to a schedule. Aside from that, these people with physical limitations are now left standing in the queue for at least half an hour or more. After waiting in the line for a while, a rep comes out and informs us that our seats have been pre-assigned, as they do with all large groups. This raises quite a bit of ire, because, first of all, they have not taken into consideration anyone with special preferences (for example, Dot needs an aisle seat to have room for her legs), they have not gone to any effort to keep traveling partners together (many married couples are separated, Brighid and I are behind Dot, and Russ is across the aisle), and all of the seats are at the very back of the plane. Complaints rise from the group about being treated like second class citizens. We’re not off to a great start, but maybe it will get better.
They get a wheel chair at the check in for Dot, and we are really on our way to the gate by about 2 PM. Our flight leaves at 5:30. We are SOOOOOO early.
I’m not sure what we might find once we go through security, so I suggest grabbing lunch at the food court before we head over to the gate to wait the oh so long hours until we board our flight. We grab a table and I pick up soup for Dot and I at one end, and Brighid and Russell grab Chik Fil A. We take our time eating, and head over to security after lunch to wait at the gate. They have a whole Outback Steakhouse restaurant on the other side of security, as well as a Starbucks and one or two other places. We did okay with what we had for lunch, and I wait an appropriate amount of time before running over to call Jim and get my latte. When I get back, a British Airways rep has piled up large piles of the local British newspapers, so we grab one to have something to do while we wait. We meet the Hartlemans – a couple from Orlando who is joining us this trip, even though they don’t live in Solavita. They seem very nice.
I have had only one experience on British Airways, and the thing I remember most is they feed you. A lot. And we had one movie screen in front of our section, and you could choose to watch or not watch what was playing. This time around, everyone has their own TV screen, and you can watch one of 18 channels – movies, cartoons, news, etc. You can also choose to play a variety of video games or watch the map channel, which gave you info like outside temperature (damn, it’s cold up there!), distance to destination, time at destination, etc.
We got snacks and drinks shortly after boarding – worcestershire sauce flavored pretzels and a water for me, Sprite for Brighid. Not much longer after that, we get dinner. I have pre-ordered a diabetic meal, and they deliver the special meals first. I have a chicken and rice dish, 1/2 of a sliced canteloupe, a rice cake, a nice salad, and a drink. Brighid has a choice of beef tips or chicken, and she chooses the chicken. Her dinner, which she enjoys, includes a salad, dinner rolls, marble cheesecake, and her favorite – Crunchies candy bar.
I enjoy the in-flight entertainment, and watch a little bit of some movies and some sitcoms. I play a few of the games, but find them hard to maneuver with the arm rest controls. I enjoy the map feature most of all, I think 🙂
They bring a late night snack of yogurt, banana and orange juice for me (who puts together these meals? The yogurt is loaded with sugar, they give me a banana, which for me might as well be like eating a Snickers bar, and the OJ could send someone into insulin overload.). Brighid gets an egg salad sandwich, which she hates, but I give her my juice and banana, and she falls asleep. We will be arriving sometime tomorrow in Gatwick.
Fondest Memories From Today – Love the map on the TV, and loved having my own TV. I’ll always fondly remember how British Airways tried to kill me with their sugar laden midnight snack. Oh, and there was an adorable, but gay, flight attendant who brought Brighid a hand full of Crunchies chocolate bars when we told him how much she loved them.