Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Africa Journey Starts

Ski season is over, which means I'm back on the blog, and it also means we're on our way to Africa. In fact, I'm typing this during a 9 hour layover in Heathrow.

That layover wasn't supposed to happen. After flying here via Air Canada, we were supposed to be on the ground for about 4 hrs, then head off to Cairo, then to Johannesburg (both on EgyptAir), then to Cape Town. But we got a call from Aeroplan on the morning of our departure with a schedule change. For whatever reason (the agent was slippery; flight cancellation? argument? civil strife?) our flights on EgyptAir were all cancelled. They rebooked us on South African Airways direct from LHR to JNB -- a 12 hr flight. We would arrive at the exact same time, but have a 9 hr layover in London.

Now, we would have booked that routing originally, had it been available in Business class, but it wasn't. Instead we booked a reward ticket with the best Business class seating we could get. That mean a Calgary-LHR economy seat, but Business for the rest of the routing. We kept trying to get upgraded to a Business seat on Air Canada for YYC-LHR, but got nowhere.

Till we got to the airport.

When we checked in, we were told they might have a seat for us at the gate. We were already resigned to sitting in the "back of the bus", so no matter. We were also told we couldn't use the Calgary lounge, though, because our boarding passes were for Economy. But we knocked, and asked, and they let us in anyway, which was nice.

Sitting in the peaceful lounge, sipping a glass of wine that didn't cost $12 and didn't taste like crap, we thought more people would travel if it was like this.

We got to the gate ~10 min before boarding time, asked (without expectation) if we were going to get into Business, and... they were all apologetic we hadn't been put there already. Zap, into Business, zap, onto the airplane.
Karen in her pod 
My pack in my pod 
The view from my seat
Holy crap, these lay-flat seat pods are huge. Where they used to have 18 big Business Class seats they now have 12 pods. And the seats are so complex, they come with instructions.
But comfy? Oh, yeah. Combine that with good wine...
The wine list
...pretty good eats...
The dinner menu
...and an entirely lay flat bed with a lovely comforter, and you know? Air travel ain't all that bad (so long as you don't want to talk to someone. The pods are miles apart).

We got into LHR pretty well rested, showered in the lounge (an excellent invention), and debated: leave the airport and head into London, or just stay? Well, we would only have had 4 hrs to "play" in London, so we just opted to stay put, snack on the excellent food in the Maple Leaf Lounge, and read/be bored/ watch airplanes.

And one plane we saw? There's a Concorde parked on the other side of the airport.
It's just parked there at the end of runway 28
T-minus 4 hrs to our next (long) flight.