We made it.
The on-board map I see shows that we're skirting up the US EAST COAST on this Virgin Atlantic flight, which was KLM, which became Delta somehow, and after sprinting through the Atlanta Airport to catch our flight to London in 50 minutes, I'm pumped to be able to say we're on our way!
We did cut it way too close for comfort, however.
Here's your first #TobyTripProTip: If flying internationally in an airport you don't know, give yourself MORE than an HOUR and A HALF on the ground if you are changing to a connecting flight. The stress and anxiety of running late... SUCKS and yes, it's cutting it way too close for an International Flight.
Kyla and I landed on the OTHER SIDE of the Atlanta airport. Literally. Our flight from Dulles landed at the first terminal and we had to HAUL to this train which took us to the LAST TERMINAL where the International Flights depart from. I'd say the total travel time was about 20 minutes, and we made it with SOME time to spare, and Virgin Atlantic knew we were coming... but wow did I feel like we were cutting it close. We were the last TWO people to board the plane.
HOWEVER... in full disclosure, I did waste some extra time before we hopped on board. See, one thing I learned from friends who are travel agents and whatnot is that often times, on International Flights, you can upgrade your seats from the terminal counter with the gate agents for a nominal fee. If you've never flown in a PREMIUM ECONOMY class, it's just like flying in DOMESTIC FIRST CLASS and if you can afford to do it, well, you should. And so, since today's Christmas Eve and all, and it's Kyla's first International Adventure, I decided to bump us both up.
#TobyTripProTip: Airlines like Virgin Atlantic often times will let you pay to upgrade your seats and sometimes... you might get really lucky... and score a TWO-FOR-ONE upgrade. I did. I paid for my upgrade, and Kyla got bumped up for FREE. Christmas Miracle? Maybe... but you never know unless you ask, and the worst thing they can say is "no," right?
Well, they said yes. Now, Kyla's sipping on English Hot Chocolate... and I'm sipping on what I think is some sort of Finland Vodka mixed with OJ and a splash of Cranberry Juice... WITH ICE.
Apparently, only Americans like ICE in their drinks. It's not a common thing, I guess, with people overseas.
Anyway, I'm migrating myself to LONDON time now. It's 2300 hours, or 1900 hours East Coast time... and they're about to bring us some sort of supper. Should be tasty. Kyla's easing into some in-flight entertainment and we're hunkering down for the flight across the Atlantic. I have observed that, because we've flown through Atlanta, our flight to London will be about three hours longer than had we flown from New York.
#TobyTripProTip: Sure you can save money connecting in a city like Atlanta, but if you want to spend less time in the air and more time on the ground, consider flying direct from the closest International Airport to you, or connect via a place like NYC. But, if you have the time and want to save that cash... well, you do you...
I'm going to settle in for now and hopefully will drift off to sleep at some point. Hopefully I won't snore so loud it pisses off half the passengers in our section... and if all goes well, Christmas Morning, we will wake up just before dawn on the ground in London. I've gotta admit, I'm pretty excited. I think Kyla is, too.
Before I go, let me just say how amazing the service is on Virgin Atlantic. All of these in-flight team members are just so amazingly attentive, almost caring and are super and super-serving us. This hospitality is legendary... it reminds me of how amazing Virgin America was when they were still a "thing" for domestic travel in the US. That VIRGIN service is just second-to-none and one of my fellow passengers, an Indian gent sitting to my right, even tells me that the service on Virgin Atlantic is BETTER than British Airways.
I've never from British Air, so I'm going to have to take his word for it. What I do know is that so far, this has been one of the best flight experiences I've ever had.
Knock on wood, right, we've still got a lot of flying to go.
We just got an in-flight announcement. It's 1900 hours local time... which is 0000 London time. The leader of our in-flight team just came on to tell us that he's been informed that it's just hit midnight in London... and he wanted to be the first to wish us a "Happy Christmas" since, well, it's Christmas in London... the home of Virgin Atlantic.
Magical. Just... magical.
Sir Richard Branson, if you are reading this, I hope you know how amazing your airline and your people are.
It's supper time. I've gotta go. I'll write more from the ground in London....
#TobyTripProTip: Fly Virgin Atlantic. They are freaking amazing. Truly outrageous customer service. It's totally worth it... and I'm thrilled this is my airline to and from London! What an unexpected Christmas gift... and shout-out to Cheap-O Air who inadvertently made this all happen!
Merry Christmas! I'll write more from London...
(Disclosure: I once endorsed Virgin Atlantic for iHeartRadio/Hot995 Radio back in the day but no airline, travel website, hotel or any travel agency has compensated me for my review, thoughts or opinions listed here.)