Back to England
Posted on 2008/04/04 08:46:25 (April 2008).
[Monday 31st March]
So then, our two-and-a-little-bit week holiday had come to an end, and it was time to go back to England. Chie's friend and her husband, who we had stayed with the night before, kindly got up early and gave us a lift to a convenient station to get on the line to Narita, which took about an hour. We got to the airport around 9.
Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring my gold card so we couldn't wait in the NorthWest lounge as we often have in the past - but anyway I had started to detect they probably thought I was being a bit cheeky, having not flown with them for about 18 months now (come to think of it, the card may well have expired anyway).
The flight itself was not quite as pleasant as the one on the way over. For one thing I suppose it's never as fun on the way back from a holiday as it is on the way out. Besides that though it was a lot bumpier in places, and there were problems with the entertainment system. They had to reboot it several times, and although mine eventually started working about two or three hours into the flight, Chie's never did. Initially they offered her (and the woman sitting next to her, who had the same problem) a portable DVD player, but the selection was nothing like what was on offer on the little seatback screen. The woman sitting next to her, who had apparently experienced this problem several times before, managed to convince them to upgrade her to upper class. This seemed to only serve to annoy Chie more. Eventually they did offer to let Chie to also use an upper class seat, although just for watching movies - she'd have to come back to premium economy for her meals etc.
Given the slightly frosty reception we'd received at Narita airport (the woman at the check-in desk barely said anything to us at all), and the fact that the food was frankly pretty crap both ways, I am wondering if it might be time to reconsider my recent loyalty to Virgin Atlantic for future flights to Japan. I'm certainly not going to be considering BA any time soon, and I tired of all the European carriers (KLM/Lufthansa/Air France) long ago, but I have never tried ANA and they do sound fairly promising. There is something to be said for an entirely Japanese ran plane - I have noticed that the Japanese stewards/stewardesses on Virgin are always a lot more polite than the English ones, although come to think of it that is only when speaking Japanese to Japanese customers.
Anyway, we landed at Heathrow at just after 3:30, and despite almost running down the corridors to try and beat the queues, it still took Chie ages to get through immigration - no matter what time we fly at there always seems to be a plane full of people with dubious visa statuses having landed just before ours. We did find out today though that as she has a spouse visa when we're travelling together she can, apparently, join the same line as me.
We got the Heathrow Express from there, and were at Paddington just after 5. We jumped straight in a taxi and were back at home by 5:30. So I guess that's not too bad - 2 hours from touch down to our flat - but we probably could have shaved 30 minutes off that if Chie hadn't had to queue up for immigration.
Robin (my uncle) had stayed there for a weekend while we were away, and he'd obviously decided to have a bit of a clean around - the place looked fabulous, and had a delightful fragrance to it. So it was even nicer than usual to come back to.
We didn't really do much for the remainder of the day, unusually for us we actually did a bit of unpacking and given that neither of us had got any sleep on the plane we were unable to stay awake any longer by the time it got to around 9 o' clock.
My boss signed up to the Iris scanning program and now goes through immigration in England quicker than I do (he's American).
Posted by Simon at 2008/04/04 09:39:53.
Bad flight... I had the same experience with Lufthansa once, the in-seat monitor was totally broken and there was nothing that they could do... :(
Posted by Lox at 2008/04/04 18:27:37.
Simon: presumably part of the reason that iris scan is so fast is that hardly anyone uses it at the moment? I did notice that on the way through the airport this time, and there seemed to be no-one queuing up there at all.
Posted by John at 2008/04/05 10:18:38.
Lox: it appears you have to complain about these things otherwise you get nowhere... and although I am always loathed to kick up a fuss whilst actually on the plane (I don't want to upset the other passengers) that does appear to be the most effective strategy.
I wrote a letter to NorthWorst to complain about the food once and they basically just copied and pasted bits of my letter back to me, and inserted a few half-arsed apologies. It only served to make me more annoyed.
However, when you're actually on the plane and the option of an upgrade is there the flight attendants seem to be quite quick to use that for the sake of getting you to shut up.
...of course if you were already in business class and that was the best class on the plane, that probably doesn't help.
Posted by John at 2008/04/05 10:22:52.
Post a comment