Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004

The Adventure Begins

I suppose that, for most people, the day of departure on a six-week round-the-world trip would be a very special day - special enough, at any rate, to merit a day off work. Perhaps typically, however, I saw things differently. Having already committed six weeks to the trip, the last thing I wanted to do was squander another precious day of leave just waiting around for time to go. I figured I might as well pace up and down in the office waiting for the appointed hour, rather than wear out my own carpet at home. And so it came about that, at 3pm, I shut down my PC, rose from my desk, bade farewell to my colleagues, headed down to Reception to reunite myself with my suitcase and stepped outside onto the freezing streets of Edinburgh, whispering to myself "Let it begin!"

The journey to the airport was uneventful, an Airlink 100 bus helpfully appearing approximately 30 seconds after my arrival at the bus stop. On arrival at the airport, I collected together my various bits and pieces of relevant documentation and approached the BA premium check-in desk. I felt a slight burning sensation at the back of my head, but put it down to the rays of pure hate emanating from 100 pairs of eyes in the barely moving Economy queue   The check-in agent was completely unfazed by my arrangements involving two separate bookings, one electronic and one on paper, and soon I was on my way upstairs. The queue for security was the worst I have ever seen at EDI, yet it managed to move tolerably quickly. After a brief stop at the re-sited Travelex desk to pick up some pre-ordered Japanese Yen - the only country where I wasn't prepared to trust myself to the vagaries of an ATM - I headed for the familiar territory of the BA Lounge. It was mayhem. The clue, in retrospect, had come downstairs at check-in. When I had asked if everything was running OK, the agent's reply had been "Well ... Heathrow's certainly OK." Hmmm. It seemed that part of the problem was down to the simple fact that it was late afternoon on a Friday, but in addition there had been a number of delays earlier in the day, no doubt caused by the one or two snowflakes that we British like to refer to as a 'blizzard'. In fairness, the area outside the Lounge was a complete zoo as well.

Not to worry ... the flight was called on time and I was one of the first to board. (Link to flight log in side panel)

On arrival at LHR, I made my way to a surprisingly deserted Flight Connections Centre and, apart from having to wait until a near-empty transfer bus had filled up, I was reasonably soon on my way to Terminal 4. On arrival at the Pavilion Lounge Suite, I first visited the Molton Brown Spa to book a shower, but decided against a treatment on this occasion as - rightly or wrongly - I felt that time was not that plentiful and the place was very busy. I really didn't want to create any unnecessary stress when the whole point was to unwind! I waited to be paged in the First Lounge downstairs, which these days tends to be the home of Gold Card holders who are not travelling First. (Those travelling First are entitled to use the better Concorde Room upstairs.) I was soon paged and enjoyed a refreshing shower and partial change of clothes. Then it was upstairs to the Concorde Room and I poured myself a ... glass of mineral water!! Well, I really didn't want to overdo it completely. As it was, I was probably going to end up drinking a little more than maybe I should, but what the heck ... it's not every day that you travel half way round the world in BA First. I was pacing myself.

It was impossible to sit in the Concorde Room and not think of its intended purpose, for which it continued to be used until October last year. It was a sobering sight to look down on the jetty that once took Concorde passengers directly to their supersonic aircraft from this very room. How things change.

When the departure gate for BA17 appeared on the screen, I decided that it was time to get going - I was to be leaving from Gate 3, which is about as far from the Concorde Room as you can get. After a brisk walk through the shopping mall that T4 has become, I was soon through the brief gate formalities (thanks to the First & Club World Fast Track!) and boarding the 747-400, making that inordinately satisfying LEFT turn on stepping through the doorway

(Link to flight log in side panel)