2022 Paris Trip - The Journey Across the Pond
This was not my first time flying since the Global Pandemic began in March 2020, but it was only my second round-trip flight since then. I was flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for the first time ever and on the new Airbus A350 to boot. On arriving at JFK, I quickly went through check-in and security. The TSA Pre-check line was long, and it was made even longer as Clear goes through the same line and they get priority. I will be making sure to get my Clear account straightened out since I apparently have two and they have to be linked.
After security, I headed to the Centurion Lounge (Thanks, AMEX Platinum Card!) and decided to check out the Equinox Body Lab. They have complimentary massages, a meditation area, and have equipment that uses pressure to help relax you. After 20 minutes with the pressure boots, I headed to the 1850 Speakeasy, also in the Centurion Lounge, for a couple of Espresso Martinis. They are one of their signature cocktails and they are particularly good here with minimal sweetness.
I left the lounge and rushed to the gate where boarding was already well underway. I was in seat 7K, which is a window seat. The layout of the A350 is great, with each window seat facing the window, which allows for a lot of privacy. The screens are nice and large, and the experience on the A350 is much better than that on the 787 which is what I had flying back to New York. I really dug the lighting on the plane, and they do have some lounge areas in the back of the Upper Class cabin that you can relax in with travel companions.
On arrival at Heathrow around 6 AM on Saturday, May 14, I was able to go to the arrivals lounge. Some people were having breakfast, but I just wanted coffee and water. After a shower that made me feel human again, I grabbed my bags and set off for the Heathrow Express. The Heathrow Express is really easy to get to from Terminal 3 which is the Virgin Atlantic terminal. After 15 minutes in first class on the Heathrow Express (the 8 GBP upcharge is worth it), I arrived at Paddington Station. I stopped at an ATM to grab some cash, and I jumped in a Black Cab. On arrival at St. Pancras Station, I headed upstairs to Searcy’s. The Champagne Bar was not open just yet, but the bar in the Brasserie was. A glass of champagne was precisely what was required to celebrate my return to Paris.
Finally, it was time to make my way to the Eurostar area to board. Given Brexit, and the vaccination requirements for entry to France, everything took longer than it used to. You go through British border control and then immediately go through French border control right after. It takes longer, but it allows you to immediately leave the train station on arrival at Gare du Nord.
Once I was ensconced in my seat in Standard Premier (I prefer this to Business Premier) and the train pulled out of the station, I fell asleep. I did not sleep well on the flight due to excitement, so I was exhausted. I woke up as we were coming into the city of Paris. On arrival at Gare du Nord, I found my way to the taxi line and started to get a second wind.
Paris Day 1 is up next! Stay tuned!