This trip started out two years ago as a provisional cruise booking from Costa Rica, up the Pacific coast calling in at other Central American countries and docking in San Diego. On her trip round South America in 2016, the cruise line was promoting future cruises and new destinations. Costa Rica took MummyAirmile’s fancy, to the extent she paid a deposit, chose the cabin, then told Dad sometime later! Some considerable time was spent working out a travel itinerary within Costa Rica that would tie in with BA flights, give room for unforeseen problems, yet see them onto the ship on the right day.
BA fly three times a week from Gatwick to San Jose (SJO) in Costa Rica, so I needed to consider our arrival day, allowing for the possibility of being denied boarding and bumped, which has happened to other travellers as reported in Head for Points. (There is no actual proof of this, but travellers feel they are targeted for downgrades/ bumped when travelling on the BAPP Amex 2for1). I also needed to secure the two Avios redemption Club seats promised on every BA flight for my 2for1 booking, which can be a little tricky, so it had me poised on the phone to a foreign Customer Service agent at midnight T-355!
My other backup plan also involved checking out Iberia who fly daily from Madrid to SJO and also being aware of routing via MIA to SJO. All useful info to persuade BA to get us to our destination by various routes should the worst happen.
Our flight to SJO is on a Saturday. BA also fly on Tuesdays and Thursdays which is fine as we embark the cruise ship on a Thursday, so several flights ‘in hand’ so to speak!
In addition, I also needed to factor in getting to London from Inverness. BA fly once a day so, given the vagaries and unpredictability of the Scottish weather, we decided to fly on Thursday, even though the SJO flight was on Saturday. This gave us an extra day and, in any case we needed a night beforehand as the SJO flight is at 0805 hours.
It was with relief that I had done this as the weather turned treacherous. Fortunately, not affecting our INV-LHR flight. But…….!
The inbound flight leaves San Diego the evening that we dock, and we decided not to stay for a few days. Again, a late-night phone call was required to add on the return leg to our 2for1 redemption. Should I have been pipped at the post and failed to secure the two Club seats, then my back up options were the nearby BA destinations of LA, just a couple of hours drive north, or even Phoenix, or try for the following day Avios seats from San Diego. As it was, all dates and timings worked.
We stayed the night at a little boutique hotel near Victoria Station – The Lord Milner, in Ebury Street, with a really good selection of nearby restaurants. We did some London touristy things the following day.
The Postal Museum and Dickens Museum, which are both worth a visit before then headed out on the Gatwick Express to check in to our Executive Suite with Club access at the Sofitel.
The Sofitel is situated in North Terminal, accessed by a monorail train but our flight left from South terminal. We had several trips back and forth, as later in the evening, we utilised the service (operated between 1600-2200 hours) of checking in luggage the day before the flight. BA offer this to targeted flights leaving before 1500 hours. We trundled over with the suitcases about 2100, checked them in at an almost deserted desk, not to mention an almost empty terminal – most pleasant! This meant on departure day, we went straight to security, which was super-fast, and into the BA lounge. Having read up on the lounge review posted on HeadforPoints (MisterAirmiles has not been to Gatwick since the new lounges opened), we settled in for an hour of breakfast, a read of the papers, and a quiet chill out on the mezzanine floor occupied by only 3 people! The rest of the lounge was quite busy!
Our flight was a busy Boeing 777. An informative announcement was made giving instructions of how boarding would proceed, with all passengers remaining seated until called by cabin, row and status. This was easily accomplished as the gate area was very large affording plenty of room for all passengers to sit. We left a drizzly London on time, heading for sunshine and warmth!