Europe 2014 Day 1: Los Angeles to London

Friday December 26, 2014
As always when it’s time to travel, there is nothing like last minute planning and getting everything ready. I’ve been planning this trip since summer, but due to the fact I didn’t want to pay for anything up front, I’ve been procrastinating. A few days before Christmas, I realized through various articles that my connection I had planned in Madrid on Saturday was too short and I was going to have to change my flight to Sunday and, on top of it all, I was going to have to spend extra on a hotel that was not in the original plan. Several hundred dollars later, I had my travel arrangements revised and I was ready to go.

Since my flight didn’t leave until late in the day, I did some last minute shopping and errand running before heading to the airport. I discovered that I could not find the Visa travel cash card at the place they said I could get it. Again, this is probably the product of last minute errands. I did manage one good errand – getting my new camera! I’m very excited to have a working point and shoot camera. Not only that, but it has a Wi-Fi connection which allows me to send photos to my phone and tablet for easy uploading. No more waiting until I get home. When I bought my iPad back in 2011, I bought an SD card reader that turned into a bust. I never used it and the last time I tried, the new iOS didn’t recognize it. I totally could have saved myself some money. Now, I’m back in business!

The rest of the day consisted of eating my last US fast food for a while and scrambling to finish packing. We headed off to the airport and had no issues getting there on time with the post-holiday lack of traffic. Arriving at the newly remodeled Tom Bradley terminal, I noticed that the longest line in the building was for people who had checked in online and needed to check in luggage. I wonder if I had not checked in before I arrived at the airport, if I would have saved myself some time. After the 20-minute queue it was off to the concourse to wait for our departure. I don’t remember the last time I was in the departures area of the Bradley terminal (thinking Tahiti 2001), but the renovations are very nice and I’m glad LAX is updating the old claustrophobic terminals.

My plane was already at the gate – a British Airways A380. You really can’t appreciate how big this plane is unless you get close. Even in the sky these planes are huge, but up close they are gargantuan. I think the lettering on the livery is as tall as me if not more so. When we finally boarded the plane, it still felt big on the inside. I did notice everything was still new-ish and clean which was certainly a plus. It was a fairly full flight and I ended up next to an older British gentleman (who had no idea what plane he was aboard. I mean c’mon!) and a younger woman of indeterminate origin, but super nice.

During the flight, I was the guinea pig for the lavatory and opened the door to the supply closet first. It’s a weird configuration with the curtains dividing the cabins, so I didn’t realize that the lavatory was offset to the back a bit. I felt a lot better when I saw several people do the same thing before it was shut down for the sink being inoperative. Another embarrassing moment was when I went through the curtains later in the flight to the back of the plane. I could not find an opening and thought they were tied back. So I kept unsnapping the connectors and re-securing. It wasn’t until my third stretching trip that I followed a lady through the slit in the middle of the curtains.

On one of my stretch breaks I wandered up the stairs to see if I could take a look at the upper deck. There was a gate at the top of the stairs that reminded me of the gates on the Titanic which were used to keep the steerage travelers below decks. Since there were some economy folks upstairs, I think it was just used for fall protection so that the airline hostesses didn’t accidentally fall to their doom. Whenever I see spiral stairs on a plane, I think of the shot in Airport ’77 where the water is coming down them while they are awaiting rescue. As the flight progressed, I managed to watch Captain America 2 which I enjoyed although it was tough following all the details since it has been awhile since I saw the first one.

The rest of the flight was just me trying to sleep, and not having much luck. I finally managed to get a few hours towards the end – and I think that was just pure exhaustion. Every time I’d get comfy, my seat neighbor would violate the neutral zone, the British snoring (glad it wasn’t me!) would interrupt my music, or the super-cute toddler in front of me would have a meltdown.