|VS400 LHR-DXB 27th of March
||[Mar. 31st, 2006|03:41 am]
I had a very delightful stay at The Halkin hotel in Belgravia and had booked my car to pick me up there at 3 pm for my 10:30 departure, this was the first time ever in London I used the VS car service thanks to the D fare I had, I was looking forward to trying the drive through check-in.
It was fairly light traffic out to Heathrow, we arrived around 5 pm due to a slight little detour we had to take when the driver missed the exit for T 1-2-3 and we had to go around the entire airport. We were deeply engaged in a conversation about the world cup and I don't blame him at all, I got a good view of T5 too. Drive through check-in was quite lovely, even though my lack of printed ticket and Segway in the trunk caused some mild confusion, and in a several firsts, I was told I am the first pax ever to drive through check-in for Duabi. After I was dropped off I went downstairs to the Gulf Air ticket desk to get my tickets revalidated for the DEL-BAH-LHR-BAH-DEL leg and try to get confirmed into First, the gulf air girls really loved the Segway.
Up to departures and through security, thankfully security seemed to have died down since my last trip through here last month, I declined the ridiculous plastic bag for the laptop and rode in on my Segway. Now, as I approached security, several security supervisors appeared and relieved me of the Segway and took it through a side entrance to get it tested for explosives, I then had to repeat the "dry, sealed, disconnected" mantra a couple of times until I was allowed to go to the supervisors desk while he called Virgin to verify that I could indeed bring this onboard, after a couple of minutes wait someone from Virgin confirmed that this is entirely possible and I was allowed to ride through to the lounge.
I got a lot of stares and a few comments as I rode through the shopping area and to the lounge, where I was greeted as the first pax to show up on a Segway and the first pax to come to the lounge heading towards Dubai ever. I dropped of my luggage and then had some fun when they took my Segway and put it in the office behind the concierge team and charged it for me, superstars!
Booked a Rhinestone Cowboy for 18:30 and then set down to grab a burger while I went online for a while, noticed the N91 music players and listened to some music, selection was pretty good. Washed down the burger with a couple of glasses of Champagne and then it was time for the Rhinestone Cowboy, which was an excellent shave.
My apologies, what happens afterwards is a bit dazed in my memory, no flight I have ever been on has passed so quickly.
There was an opening of the new CH by the bearded one, some employees got flowers, there was lots of canapes being handed out and more champagne, I had some sushi. Lots of VIPs arriving, it seemed like the entire VS400 was in the CH.
After a short wait after the speeches finished, we where called for boarding, I picked up my Segway and rode to Gate 10?. These are the new gates that used to be only short haul before and the renovated part of T3 looks really nice. Now some discussion started as it was unclear what could be done with the Segway, I had already told them I was happy to have it gate checked but they insisted on asking the Captain if it could be taken into the cabin. After some discussion where I had to repeatedly decline a wheel chair (since the Segway is classified as a electric wheelchair device, I get flagged as someone who is completely immobile, oh well) I separated from the Segway and boarded into the middle seat in row 11. Wow, G-WIN sure looked good, and the cabin felt very specious even if the seats are narrower than the 744 seats. While sleeping I also noted some extra padding at the top of the seat so there isn't such a hard edge between the fixed and the moving parts.
After take off I used my priority card to be the first person to ever get a in flight beauty treatment on a Dubai flight, a the hand massage one which was nice, my hands always crave more attention. Then I ordered food which was some starter I forgot and lamb bangers and mash followed my a buttermilk pudding. For once the food wasn't bad, it was in fact the best food I ever had on VS and the bangers and mash was actually good! (Though comparing to the food I am just now eating on Gulf Air, VS is still a sad alternative). Then off to the bar to mingle with the group of reporters and tv presenters who I had no idea who they where, thank god for my self imposed tv-ban.
When it was about 2.5 hours left of the flight I decided to call it a night and lept into my sleeper suit and then made my own bed, a flight attendent came up to me to help, but commented that I seemed to know exactly what I was doing. I slept well and woke up 20 minutes before landing, quickly changed back and was in my seat for touchdown.
We were asked to be seated so all photographers could get out in the rear entrance so the bearded one could be photographed on the wing, then we exited after him in the front to a group of dancers and entertainers flanked by lots of important looking men. We jumped into busses and got taken to arrivals where we had a VIP queue through immigration. My luggage was already out and the Segway was parked next to the conveyor belt. I loaded it up and rode out through immigrations to try and find my car.
Now, this wasn't really organised well, I had asked for a car to take my around Dubai for a while and then drop me off at the airport again, but there where no one out there waiting for me and all the Virgin staff where trying to get the big party on a set of busses, after a while I found the other paying UC pax on the flight and we stood together while several VS employees tried finding the cars for us. After a short wait they appeared and I got a nice 2 hour drive around Dubai, then dropped of at Emirates check-in for my EK512 flight to Delhi, with more Segway adventures to come.