Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Made It

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It took a good night’s sleep in “our own bed” in Panicale to drain away a good portion of the travel thickness that weighed upon our minds and muscles. We got out of Las Vegas with some of its money – not me, but Bev‘s  purse was about $80 fatter and Ross cashed several hundred dollars worth of tickets before he drove us to the airport on is way back to San Diego. I dropped $19.65. Our Mandalay Bay room was only $35 (a special Bev got thru her many jaunts into Las Vegas via airlines and online). Our Virgin Atlantic premium economy seats were just fine for the 9hr 6 min flight. We were among the 44 passengers sitting in the 747 bubble right behind the cockpit. And we had two flight attendants.

Landed in Gatwick with plenty of time to catch a 1 p.m. BritAir flight to Bologna. There was space on it but our tickets weren’t changeable, even with a change fee, and we were told, “We’re very sorry but you’d have to buy a new ticket for 199 pounds — each.” I asked if that was both ways and she just winced. This is typical unwavering British Air bureaucracy. Polite but thoroughly customer unfriendly. So we opted to stick with our original plan and spend 9 hours in the airport. (When we booked the flights, we asked Virgin res agent  if we would make that 1 p.m. flight since our Virgin sked called for landing in Gatwick at 10:30, a 2 ½ hour gap. He said, “It’s possible but not likely” since any delay – Las Vegas weather or problems, Atlantic storm, problems at Gatwick with landings, customs, anything  — would throw us way off schedule. So we booked the 19:30 flight and, as it turned out, landed in Gatwick shortly after 10, about 30 minutes early..

On an earlier Virgin flight from Vegas, we had a 2 ½ hour window for a connecting flight to Pisa but we ran late ‘cuz of a delayed takeoff and some weather and flight attendants had to let us dash out first so we could make our flight. That would not have worked this time because we booked all legs of the flights online ourselves and would have had to await our bags before heading to the connector.

Could have bought some time – 3 hours for 30 pounds each – in the Avianca public lounge, which included some fruit and snacks and a well-stocked self-serve bar. Because it was so slow, the attendant said we could stay as long as we want. Problem was, I didn’t seek it out until about four hours before our departure and it wasn’t worth spending all that dough that late in the day. Did pick up a bottle of duty-free scotch and we had a quiet meal before taking off. More to come…

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 17, 2009 at 6:19 am

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