Day 2 Heathrow to Las Vegas
Trip Start May 15, 2009
23Trip End Jun 04, 2009
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We checked out at 0730 and walked back along Bath Road to the bus stop we got off at last night. Today's free public bus is the 423 that takes 7 minutes to round get to Terminal 5. We arrived at the Terminal and headed for Zone H & checked the bags in. The "Fatstrack" security didn't seem any faster than the normal one!
After trying to get into the Concord Lounge door by mistake we were pointed in the vague direction of a lounge for less common people, we went into the South Galleries Lounge and booked Spa treatments in the free BA Elemis Spa. Unfortunately there were no facial appointments available in time for Catriona so we had 15 minute back massages for 1020. The Spa offers massages on some space age chair that pummels, kneads, vibrates and generally massages you. Normally you can get a facial or head massage at the same time but alas not today.
We went for our 15 minutes of pummeling in the Spa and Catriona treated herself to the complimentary Elemis products (i.e. got some for her bag! Nothing but the best to fill up our Red Cross ESU). With the flight leaving in 40 minutes, we tootled over to the Satellite terminal in the shuttle train that takes you under the airfield. The flight was starting to board by the time we got there. On board, 64A sir? Up the stairs, thank you J.
We got to our seats upstairs and decanted all our bags (and our 2 litre bottles of Morgans Spice for £16 from Duty Free- well, we are going to be stuck together in an RV for almost 2 weeks!). After we settled we got our glasses of champagne but I'm sorry to say that this was the only drink we were offered till after take off (and we were another 40 minutes on the ground) - poor show on BA's normal service.
The front toilet on the upper deck was out of action due to an unserviceable sink, and two lucky swines at the front got moved from their seats (to First Class as I overheard as they were taken down the stairs. Green Cheese? Me? Never)
As we supped our drinks, we passed over the Isle of Skye. Just after take off the In Flight Entertainment system had crashed, leading to the prospects of a 10 hour flight with NO movies! Add to that, Catrionas IPod decided its battery was flat (despite being charged overnight). Luckily the IFE was fixed so lack of entertainment averted.
The dressing on the salad overpowered any subtleness of the Scallops and the Masala was very dry. The cheeses were complemented with a very nice Port, however. So that's 1 champagne, 4 wines and a Port! That's what I call a good start, and we've just passed Iceland.
We settled down to watch some movies (and sleep off the drinks). I have reset my watch to Las Vegas Time (-8 hours). We have 2 hours from landing to take off of next flight. Last time it took 1 hour to clear Customs and Immigration, fingers crossed we will be the same this time.
Landed in San Francisco 1425 (2125 body time!). We got off quick enough and marched up to Immigration, very small queues and we were seen in 2 minutes! Unfortunately, due to a bit of finger trouble by the Immigration Officer, whenever Catrionas passport is scanned, my fingerprints and photo come up. Nothing can be done about it till Catriona gets a new passport apparently. So as a result, we had to go to a Secondary check area where there were a few others waiting. Luckily it didn't take too long to sort. The Officer says this will almost certainly now happen every time she comes in till the passport is replaced.
We had done our online ESTA a couple of months back but no-one seems to use them as we still had to fill out landing cards and customs declaration. Breezed through Customs. If you are going on to another flight, you follow the signs for Connecting Flights. In the UK you would normally only do this if you had already checked in and had your Boarding Card.
At the Virgin America check in, we put our Duty Frees and BA Amenity Packs into our cases and checked in. The girl had to check that we did not have to pay the ridiculous $15 a bag charge they have introduced since March (we booked in Jan so were OK).
SFO airport has full body scanners so you have to stand with your hands up in some ridiculous dance pose as you are scanned.
Catrionas allergies were full blown by this point thanks to 9 hours of BA aircon, so got some decongestants and water while waiting for our flight.
We departed SFO at 4.14pm on Virgin America. The planes are very new and shiny and have the funkiest in flight interactive system. The safety brief was a strange cartoon affair and they allow you to use your mobile (cellphone as we are now in USA speak) during taxiing, they also have Wifi onboard (for a cost).
Water and soft drinks were free (take note FlyBe and RyanAir!) and if you wanted anything else you had to use the seats interactive unit to order it and pay by card as they don't take cash.
Luggage was delivered way at the far end of the building so we walked through the building which seems more like a mini casino. I passed a poster advertising the American Red Cross but was on a moving stair at the time so missed a photo for it, they get everywhere!
Follow the signs for taxi and get hit by the evening heat, phew. Wait is only 5 minutes and we get our cab to Treasure Island. Following advice from TripAdvisor the tunnel route would be the best route to choose at this time. However, the cab driver did not ask which route we wanted and took the Tunnel and I-15 anyway. Driver 3..2, we got your number! Fare was $24.70 + $1.80 airport pickup charge.
Checked in at TI, I put $20 in my passport before I handed it over but didn't ask for an upgrade to see if the well reported upgrade trick would work. I'm not sure of its success as we got an upgrade to a Deluxe Corner Room with views down the Strip anyway and the $20 was still in the passport when she returned it, but as we had got the upgrade anyway we told her to keep it. So looks like we would have got the upgrade anyway.
We eventually stopped to eat at somewhere we haven't been since 1995 - Dennys! We ordered a starter to share and a main each of a Fillet Steak Melt & Super Bird sandwiches and fries. Of course we were stuffed by the end of it forgetting how big American portions are. $35 inc. tip
We met our first "pornflickers" outside of Hurrahs as we walked down. For those of you who have never heard of them, they are people who stand on the Strip and try and hand out cards for "ladies of ill repute", the stand and flick the cards in their hands as you pass and try and hand them out, there was dozens of them! Never got any cards tho, you think people might start trading them like Baseball cards?
We walked back up to TI and watched the Pirate show from the edge of the sidewalk, we will watch it from a better vantage point another time and get photos.
We decided we better do some gambling as we were in Vegas. Slot machines were our limit at the moment! There was a vast range starting at 1cent a go, so tried some of the smaller ones. What is so fascinating about feeding a note in and pressing a button till you run out of money? No skill involved, just press button, lose, press button, lose.
I put in $5 and 5 minutes later cashed out with $12.50. My first gamble and first win, always quit when you're ahead.
We stopped at the bar and had a couple of bottles of Bud, $12! Bloody Hell. I have decided that Las Vegas is NOT that cheap; I thought they made stuff cheap to get people here to gamble? Apparently not.
Where I stayed