One of the best things about working for myself rather than a company is the ability to use some common sense around travel. One of those is around class of travel – lots of companies specify a highest travel class dependant on length of flight i.e. transatlantic can only be business class or below irrespective of whether business is more expensive than first class. Airlines know this and can sell last minute business class seats at a far higher price than a first class seat on the same plane – it’s a fairly common occurrence especially on high volume business routes like London to NYC. So that is how I came to be in a 1st class seat (rather than business which I’d normally travel) on BA’s A380 from London to LAX one day in early July – I just didn’t think I’d be there for much longer than the 11 hour scheduled flight time.
I’d been to Dublin the day before so had booked an overnight stay in a hotel next to Heathrow airport – my usual route is about 1 ½ hours away from Heathrow so I couldn’t be bothered trekking back home just to return the next day. My flight was scheduled to depart at 16.20 so I’d had a lazy morning before leaving the hotel at around 11.30 and heading to check in. By 12.00 I’d checked in and cleared security (was behind Rod Stewart in the queue) and headed to BA’s Concorde room which is their top lounge at Heathrow. One of the best things about this lounge is that they serve Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle champagne. Now I’m not a big champagne drinker but given it retails for about $150 a bottle it would be rude not to partake. I’d arranged to have lunch with a friend in the lounge and we enjoyed a very leisurely lunch with about 5 glasses of champagne apiece before I headed off to the gate at about 15.30. Boarding commenced on time and I was offered another glass of champagne (they serve the same onboard in 1st) as soon as I took my seat (due to the UK’s licensing laws any alcohol served on the ground must have tax paid so the only alcohol offered pre flight is champagne).
Push back was on time and we moved about 10 feet from the gate before stopping. And waiting. After about 10 minutes the captain announced we were being delayed and he’d let us know any updates. Nothing really happened for about 20 more minutes and I’d already turned on a movie. A few minutes later one of the flight attendants came down to offer drinks and snacks – offering profuse apologies that they weren’t allowed to open the bar yet so we’d all have to do with champagne – never mind. It turned out something on one of the fuel systems had failed and needed replacing – but they are continuing to serve the champagne so I don’t really care and by the time the movie is over I can barely see straight. Luckily the problems are sorted and we depart nearly 4 hours late – it’s now after 20.00 and I’ve had nothing apart from champagne to drink since before noon. I manage to change this by ordering a G&T as soon as we’re in the air. I opt to eat immediately and wash that down with some wine and I’m ready for a snooze about 3 hours into the flight. When I tally up my alcohol consumption I work out I’m pushing 3 bottles of champagne, a bottle of wine and a couple of large G&Ts but I still have a lot of training to do to equal 8 bottles detailed here https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1074418-8-bottles-dom-lax-bkk-sq-f.html
We get to LAX just after 23.00 local time (07.00 UK time) and for once CBP is completely empty – it’s probably a good job too as the last thing I needed was standing in a queue for an hour or so. I was booked into the Crowne Plaza at LAX overnight and I’m there by midnight to sleep off a pretty immense hangover