Wednesday, December 28, 2016

London 2016 - Days 0 & 1 (12/23/2016 & 12/24/2016) - Seattle to London

The idea for this trip started when during his visit to Seattle this autumn Brad Schwartz mentioned that (a) Delta, his employer, has nonstop flights between Seattle and London; (b) he was willing to give me a buddy pass on Delta (a significantly reduced fare where I would fly standby, but be booked for business class).  He thought that my chances of getting business class during this time of year (off-peak) would be pretty good.  Combined with my desire to see an Arsenal match, and the holiday break from work, I had to give it a shot.  I made plans to attend the Arsenal Boxing Day match against West Brom, and about a week prior to the trip Brad decided that he was going to join me in London after all (a possibility that he had been considering ever since the subject was broached).

The seat status on the flight looked good for me right up until a couple of days before the trip.  A Virgin Atlantic pilot strike caused some additional bookings on the flight (Brad wasn't sure how legit they were), and then a few Delta employees registered standby (and thus ahead of me on the list) the day before.  Brad was a lot more worried than I was (and even drew up contingency plans), even though he had his own routing issued to deal with for his trip to London from Atlanta - he gave me a 90% chance of getting on the flight and a 20% chance of getting business class.  In the end, I got both, with one person below me on the upgrade list, and one business class seat to spare after everyone was given a seat (along with 6 remaining seats in economy).

On the slight downside, I was one of the last to get on the plane because they were still sorting out the standby situation when boarding began.  This resulted in the vegetarian main course not being available when the flight attendant got around to taking my order.  I "made do" with just the appetizer salad, the string beans from the chicken option, and chocolate lava cake with ice cream for dessert - first world problems.

My flight left in the evening of the 23rd and arrived on the afternoon of the 24th.  Brad beat me there by an hour or so - he transited via Amsterdam form Atlanta.  After meeting up at the arrival area (we had very fortunate timing with him coming over to my terminal just as I was leaving customs), we bought a couple of Oyster cards and took the Underground into town.  We were staying at the Hilton London Bankside, which was a few blocks from the Southwark station.

After checking in and dropping off our things, we went for a walkabout.  We crossed the Millennium Bridge and then wandered into Covent Garden.  We were feeling Thai food for dinner, and eventually found one place (Busaba) that was open after three failed attempts - Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day would limit our options for the duration of the trip.

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