Got a little more sleep before having to wake up for brekkie. 4B also woke up and quite relieved that she was indeed wearing the VA pyjamas because her bedding was stained with red wine like crazy.
Virgin have this slightly annoying habit of requesting you to make your breakfast order when you first board – as if you have any idea what you will want to eat in 11hrs time. I invariably order something and then pick at it because I’m not really hungry when it arrives – as was the case again today. I watched the dark and quite funny Frankenweenie in the last 90 minutes and despite leaving late we actually landed at LAX about 20 minutes early.
It was from this point that things really started to go downhill. I was second off the plane – but as is the habit at the Delta Terminal 5 we were corralled off into a holding area to wait until there was room in the Customs and Border Protection area of the hall for us to proceed. We were warned that a flight from Narita had already landed and as is their habit they were allowing all of the American citizens and permanent residents to proceed ahead of the visitors.
After cordoning off all the Australians they then started to call for anybody who had a connection before 11.30am to come to the front of the queue, followed by connections at 12pm, 12.30pm, 1pm, 1.30pm and finally 2.00pm. By this point about 40% of the crowd had dwindled as we waited longer and longer. A flight from Guatemala had also now arrived with the citizens getting to proceed before us. Only after all the Americans had gotten through did they open up the US Citizen counters to visitors and we were allowed to proceed. I found myself about 300 deep in a queue for the 10 or so counters available. Having stood around in holding for about 45 minutes, the queue seemed to move relatively fast, but when I reached the baggage claim area the queue was more like 500 deep and snaking its way around the entire room.
In all it took me around 4 hours to get from the plane to the Beverly Hilton where I will be staying for this couple of days. I got upgraded to a junior suite by virtue of my HHonors status – but in reality I never see a real difference from room to room in Hiltons. Some might say that the product being so predictable is a virtue – but for me it seems very boring. But I cannot complain.
Around 6pm – Americans have a thing for early dinners – we jumped in the Peninsula Beverly Hills (across the road where one of my colleagues was staying) Rolls Royce and headed out to Wolfgang Puck mainstay Spago. I have been there a few times but it has been done up since the last time I was there but the food was still fantastic. I had fillet mignon tartare served in marrow bones, tandoori quail and a delicious veal chop. Very nice. The eggplant side was to die for.
After dinner I went and watched the quite interesting HBO flick Game Change which gave a really enlighting view of what exactly happened in the recruitment and subsequent implosion of Sarah Palin in the 2008 election campaign. It plays to my politics but I have to say that Julianne Moore did a brilliant job in the Palin role.
I should sleep well tonight.
Up way too early this morning after planning on sleeping in. Wasn’t terribly happy and ended up with quite the headache. So I eventually crawled out of bed, showered and finished my last minute packing before heading off to grab myself a last minute haircut. Last week my usually hairdresser rang me to tell me she was stopping work so it was a bit pot luck. The girl who ended up cutting my hair did a pretty good job but was so short I felt like I was sitting on the floor with my head jerked all over the place so she could reach all angles.
From there I headed to work to pick up the last minute items and then drove to Sydney Airport. Parking was far fuller than usual but I eventually found a park and headed on into the terminal to check in for my Virgin Australia flight to LAX.
Check in and security was pretty easy with the Express Path and I was soon at Gate 53 in time for boarding (I avoided the lounge because I knew my boss was up there and you don’t book on separate carriers and different hotels to end up chilling out together in the lounge – there will be too much time together this week as it is).
We boarded on time and I think I was the first person in business class. They played a cruel joke on me when they closed the door when the cabin was only half full and the seat next to me was empty – only to announce that the airbridge was malfunctioning and reconnecting it and filling the rest of the cabin with more people.
This little old American lady was sat next to me – she was a bit too talkative for my liking and was constantly asking questions about how to use the IFE. When she eventually got settled I watched a couple of flicks including the almost depressing but cerebral The End of Love and the quirky and not quite hilarious English comedy I Give It A Year.
Lunch was pretty decent – Luke Mangan inspired mushroom soup, pork belly and some very nice French cheese. Put me right in the mood for a nap.
Sleep was fleeting. The old woman next to me was an enormous fidget and kept adjusting her seat and taking the IFE screen in and out. She eventually settled and at some point while she was sleeping ending up spilling a quarter glass of red wine into her seat. I picked up the glass for her but then spent the next three hours worrying about where that red wine ended up and hoping she was wearing the VA provided PJs (it was too dark to tell) and not her clothes.
I ended up watching the touching true story The Sessions mid flight before trying to get back to sleep again. I then settled and dozed for another couple of hours. Seriously will need a good night sleep (tomorrow) night.