Day 31: HOME
It was 6am once again when we awoke. And as planned yesterday, we opted to skip the included breakfast at the hotel so we could let Tahia sleep in a few more minutes while Julie and I were wrapping up our packing in preparation to go home.
We eventually found ourselves at the Heathrow Express train at 7:45am, which costed us 21 pounds per adult. It was pricey, but I guess for that 15-minute train ride and piece of mind, it was better than our sorry system back home in LAX.
We picked up one last go at Cornish pasties and some croissants (which disappointed Julie in that they were less flakier than the pasties), and then we did the usual drill of checking in and dropping off our luggages at the Heathrow Airport.
While Julie was busy shopping to spend the remaining pounds we had on us (it made no sense to exchange back since we lose on the exchange rates in both directions), a couple of Heathrow employees informed me that there was a family lounge after seeing that I was with Tahia. Seeing that our flight was delayed 15 minutes already from 11:15am to 11:30am (seems like Virgin Atlantic is synonymous with delays as far as our experience is concerned), we thought that was welcome advice to keep Tahia happy.
By 9:30am, we finally found the family lounge and once Tahia saw what was in there, she was beside herself. There were a couple of padded play pens (one for ages 3-9 and the other from ages 3 and under) as well as a quiet room and a room with a TV, and I at least got to put the bags down momentarily while Julie went off shopping again…
While I was nervously watching the monitor displaying flight information from inside the Family Lounge, I was also watching Tahia playing before she wanted me to participate as well. I wasn’t getting Wi-Fi access inside this Family Lounge so I went along with her playing in the jungle gym that was clearly sized for someone that is not as tall as a typical adult.
It wouldn’t be until 10:45am (30 minutes after they said they’d provide gate information) when we finally knew which departure gate we were supposed to go to. The lady working at the Family Lounge said it would be about a 20-minute walk to get there from here. And it looked like they’d hold the 11:30am departure time according to that monitor, which made us (and I’d imagine a lot of other people) rush to Gate 19 where we were to figure out what would happen next.
Eventually, we would queue up in a long queue for Gate 19, but then once we got inside another waiting area, that was when families with kids under 4 could get seated immediately after the priority boarding groups. It worked out for us though it didn’t seem terribly organized given the lateness that seemed to plague our experiences with this round-trip with Virgin Atlantic.
In the end, after a relatively uneventful flight where we all watched various TV shows and movies, we would finally wait to de-plane at 2:50pm (about 75 minutes later than the original arrival time), and we weren’t looking forward to the dreaded Friday afternoon rush hour traffic.
It wouldn’t be until about 4:20pm when we finally recovered our car, and it wouldn’t be until 5:20pm when we finally got home. Of course Tahia hugged grandma before she then went to bed and was out (being that it was past 1am in the UK now). Julie was doing the same thing. That left me to sort out our luggage as we gradually (and grudgingly) would return to reality once again…