And then, it was over. After 90-odd hours of travelling, six flights, thousands of miles, countless airline meals, a handful of movies, one Segway adventure, plenty of security checks and only one delay... it was done. Round the world in days, and happy to be home.
The flight from New York had us into Heathrow a touch late, so there wasn’t much time to explore the modern Terminal 5, which is a pity as it has a host of great restaurants. Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food is one of the best, but there is also Wagamama (a range of good Asian food) and Itsu (top-notch sushi). Just enough time to do a bit of shopping and then run for my flight.
Terminal 5 has grown since my last visit, and my British Airways flight to Johannesburg departed from satellite terminal ‘C’, connected – like 'B' – by a shuttle train. These satellite terminals are wonderfully quiet, so if you’ve got time to kill before boarding it’s well worth heading across early to chill out before the flight.
Unless, of course, you have access to the lounges by flying in the premium cabins or are a Gold member of the frequent flyer Executive Club.
The Galleries lounges are some of the best I saw in my trip around the world, easily as good as the wonderful Cathay lounges in Hong Kong. There are separate Galleries lounges for Club World and First passengers, with the likes of a Champagne Bar, Wine Gallery, mini-cinema, coffee bars and chef’s zone on offer. Of course there’s free WiFi throughout, and a well-equipped kids’ zone to keep noisy young travelers away from those seeking peace and quiet.
I’d loved to have spent more time there, but instead had to dash for my flight. With South African flights usually departing from the satellite terminals you need to factor in an extra 10 minutes or so to get to the gate.
Unfortunately, it was a case of hurry up and wait, as a technical glitch with the cargo hold kept us on the ground for awhile. Not too much of a trauma when you’re up at the sharp end, and the cabin staff and captain did a good job of keeping passengers informed about the delay.
Unlike every other flight on this adventure, only flying through one time zone was a joy, and I managed to arrive in Johannesburg with a few hours sleep under my belt and no crazy jetlag to deal with. What a pleasure flying north to south, instead of west to east!
Unfortunately the delay in Heathrow meant I’d missed my connection to Cape Town, but the Comair staff in Johannesburg were awesome at juggling passengers on what was a busy day for flights to Cape Town. A round of applause for Mahesh at Comair’s ORTIA service desk.
Landing in Cape Town, the first cold front of winter had arrived to greet me with a pounding northwester and driving rain. But out in the fresh air, stretching my legs, I couldn’t be happier. After that little round the world jaunt I was quite happy to see the back of planes for a week or two. But, that’s all it’ll be, as I jet back across the time zones to Japan in April... but that’s another story.