18-19 November 2012

Heading back to the future.......(it's a time difference reference, nothing to do with DeLorian cars and Michael J Fox)....as it's back to Blighty!

Breakfast at Le Pain Quoditien. I had the usual carb overload. Nom nom nom. We had to make it a reasonably early start as we need to check out and get to the airport today.

After breakfast it was back to the hotel to pack - amazing how my clothes (and indeed Darrens) have swelled up to 5 times their original size. They must have secretly been eating carbs too.

Then on to trust Subway to make our way to the airport. No cabs for us. We are all about the public transport - and I must say it went swimmingly despite having to carry giant luggage up and down various stairs. Phew. Once at Howard Beach you hop on to the AirTrain which whisks you the last few hundred yards to the airport. All quite civilised.

Dropped Darren off at his terminal - sadly he'd had to check in his luggage due to too much liquid in the form of aftershave (ie more than 100ml) and with that he was gone. Because of the times of the flights he actually got home before I'd even boarded.

Given I was at MY terminal v early all the Virgin desks were closed. No sign of anyone apart from the police and their big rifles.

FINALLY someone arrived, and I attempted my best 'check-in buttering up' smile and eyelash fluttering. I was partially successful. No they wouldn't change me on to the earlier flight (that went an hour earlier), no I couldn't have lounge access (as I am not a Gold Card holder). However I did manage to score an exit aisle seat (I was already in Premium Economy) that wasn't by the 'washroom'. HURRAH.

Once more as I'd not eaten for 32 seconds I thought it best to get a burger before going thro security. Some confusion ensued as I was charged for two meals. After the debacle of getting half my money back (where the b*tch gave me a handful of quarters) I still ended up with the two meals when the food arrived. Numptys.

Then I thought I could kill time by heading through security early to the plethora of duty free shops.....(dear travelling reader chum if you find yourself passing thro Terminal 4 I should point out there is very little once past security unless you want rive gauche, a Statue of Liberty M&M selection box or an overpriced sandwich; touche eclat? nothing doing I'm afraid).

I cannot believe how hopeless security was. I was that busy taking my belt and shoes off and getting another tray for my iPad (it'd be easier to strip to vest and pants like when you do PE at Infant School), I forgot to a) remove my collar stays (metal), b) cufflinks (metal) and c) actually take my sealable see-thro bag containing, well lets call them items, out of my hand luggage bag. Was I stopped? No. Hmmm.

Darren had actually furnished me with a pass to the United Lounge - but that was in a different terminal, and I was convinced I would get lost and/or delayed in Security so didn't go. Fool.

Just the three hours to kill......

After 3 hours and a lot of rope and pole manoeuvring it was time to board. Priority boarding. Result.

My seat was indeed by the exit. The main exit, so the minions had the opportunity to gawp at me sipping my sparkling wine as they made their way past me to economy. .

Obviously due to Gulf Stream or similar our flight time was just 6 hours. Hardly time for me to watch Prometheus and tuck in to my beef stew (disappointing. Should have had the chicken) and breakfast. On the plus side the amenity kit will make a handy emergency pencil case should the need arise.

Ooh - nearly forgot - another celebrity spot. I was sat a couple of rows in front of former England Rugby Captain Martin Johnson.

Was literally 2nd person off the plane, given door proximity, and walked the 95 miles to immigration. Bottled the biometric channel (as the queue looked longer than the normal line) and whizzed through to collect my bag. However I'd forgotten that I had flown back from JFK not Dulles, so stood like a lemon for 10 minutes at the Washington DC belt.

Bag finally collected it was Heathrow Express to Paddington. Given the flight was REALLY early I had another two hours to kill here (being too tight to change my ticket) however as I'd already got a First Class train ticket home, I could go in the lounge. Ah I do like hot and cold running lattes and almond croissants and the hushed tones of newspapers being shuffled. It's like being in an olde-fashioned Gentleman's Club.

Well - that was my last big holiday of 2012 and I had an absolutely brilliant time. I hope my dear reader chum, that you've enjoyed sharing my Stateside Exploits. Not sure when the next update will be - but I think Christmas At Anthea's will be a just as exciting read. Then there's New Year At Fiona's immediately thereafter. Can't wait!