It was an early start today with a 6:15 alarm. Despite the excitement for our trip I did roll over when the alarm went off for a last cuddle with the wife then it was a quick shower and a cuppa before our taxi to the airport. I am going to miss my wife terribly. This trip will be the longest I will have gone without seeing her since we met almost 6 years ago. I know I will enjoy the trip, and that she will probably enjoy the time without me getting under her feet but I also wish she was coming with me so that I could share the experiences with my best friend!
British Airways bag drop at Leeds Bradford was efficient and came with the added bonus of Fast Track security and complimentary Premier Lounge access. This meant a free breakfast and a chance to catch up on emails! Travelling after going self employed is a very different experience, you can’t totally switch off as there is always something ticking along and even with Sophie, Mum and our warehouse manager Euan to look after things there isn’t the same resilience I have had previously working for a large company.
Our flight to Heathrow was uneventful, the cheese and bacon toastie was edible enough but the bizarre drink of water came in a miniature version of the plastic cup, foil topped drinks you bought as a kid!
We arrived 26 minutes ahead of schedule, which the British Airway pilot was most self-congratulatory about! We collected our bags and headed for Terminal 4. On arrival at Terminal 4 my dad, while looking for our onward tickets announced that he had just realised did not have his iPad and must have left it in the seat back pocket on our first flight!
Panic stations were the order of the day as this was his way of keeping up to speed with his emails while away! Thankfully a very helpful man from the nearby Delta Airlines desk was able to call British Airways baggage dept. back at Terminal 5 and provide the flight details. Someone was being sent to check the plane for the missing device!
After a brief train ride back to Terminal 5 and about 45 minutes waiting in Baggage Enquiries my dad was finally reunited with his iPad. All told we had lost about 2 hours but since we had around 6 to kill we were still in no hurry!!
I realised at this point that perhaps my dad needed more babysitting than I had anticipated!!
Having successfully killed time until lunch…….we decided to grab a snack in T5 and then head back over to T4 to check in around 3pm.
While passing through security at Terminal 4 both my dad and I were unexpectedly entertained by the ritual mating dance that was going on between one female passenger and the Air France pilot in front of her. He eventually left with her phone number and promised to call her next time he was in town!
Once through security at T4 we were able to gain access to the Plaza Premier Lounge thanks to my dad’s Airport Angel’s card. While dad grabbed half an hour’s snooze in the lounge I went to see if I could claim the air miles for our flights on my “Flying Blue” account. While wandering round Terminal 4 (which is more like a designer outlet than an airport with outlets from Harrods, Mullberry, Hugu Boss etc) I came across the Observation Deck “View Heathrow”.
Three floors up from the terminal concourse and with 270 degree glass it was incredible to spend 20 minutes watching, what looked to me to be the organised chaos that is Heathrow. To the right you could regularly see 3 or even 4 planes strung out in the sky, nose to tail on their approach. On the other runway there seemed to a huge collection of planes coming from all corners of the airport and waiting to depart. All seeming to be inching forward waiting for their chance to head into the distance taking hundreds of people either home or away. Each painted in a different livery from a different part of the world, it made me appreciate the shrinking world in which we live!
After this it was time to head back to the lounge and grab another quick snack before our flight to Paris departed. Or was meant to depart! We arrived at the gate on time to find a large queue and a lot of worried looking Air France staff. After about 15 minutes we were informed that there was a technical issue with the aircrafts brakes that would have to be checked before departure!
I don’t know what was more worrying, the unknown length delay that might risk our connection in Paris or the fact that if they fixed the issue our plane had dubious braking systems? Anyway after about 40 minutes wait in the lounge we were told that we could board the aircraft, where we then had to sit for a further 40 minutes while they reattached the wheels! We finally pushed back around an hour and a half late and departed almost two hours behind schedule. Not a great start to our Air France experience!
After getting to Paris with a hour to still make our connection thanks to some seriously turbo charged flying by the pilot (A brave move on dodgy brakes!) We joined the snaking queue that was already forming at our next gate. The flight to Santiago was as uneventful as 14 hours in a tin can will be. We were fed twice, offered some snacks, I managed to watch most of Season 4 on Game of Thrones and got maybe 2 hours “sleep” – but not restful enough for my sleep tracking watch to detect it!
The highlight of the flight was passing over the Andes this morning as we arrived into Santiago, an incredible sight from the plane, and an ever present sight just on the horizon from the airport where I am posting this. We have a Santiago city tour later today which I hope will be a more photographic experience. I will try and post an update later when I get back! For now I am going to go and test the bed at the Holiday Inn for a couple of hours!
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