by Chrissy Iley
I arrived at Heathrow on time for my Virgin Atlantic flight to LA. Just as well as I was stopped at security.
In the US you don’t have to take your iPad out. I assumed the rules had changed worldwide, but they had not. And therefore everything in my hand luggage had to be taken out and passed through the scanner separately. Every tube of lipstick and mascara in the make-up bag. Every random Always. Three packets of half empty tissues. A purse, a tape recorder, pieces of broken jewellery.
You can carry a knife these days and take it on the airplane, but not an iPad. At least not without having a pat down.
The last time I flew the same thing happened I lost a bracelet that was intended as a present for someone just because it’s so chaotic. ‘You’d better watch what I’m doing then,’ said the security lady.
Panic mounting as time passed and objects – a concealer, a pen, an Always, one at a time were passed through the screener.
Is this really necessary? I said. ‘Is security not necessary? Is that what you’re saying,’ said security lady. No, the punishment for leaving my iPad in my bag. The one lipstick at a time thing.
There followed a cross debate during which time John Barrowman passed through security charmingly, effortlessly and looking a very handsome traveller. Another security lady said, ‘See how nice he is and he’s a celebrity.’ Implying not rude like me.
John Barrowman was spotted later. Actually we ran into each other. He was helping himself to humbugs and me to chocolate limes in the Virgin Clubhouse. I had interviewed him some time ago. He charmingly said he remembered me even though he didn’t. I’m sure he didn’t remember that the interview ended up talking about best kisses we’d ever had and how he’d kissed women as well as men.
Once on the plane he held court at the bar regaling passengers with wonderful stories and anecdotes. That’s the best bit about Virgin. It’s a social airline, it’s fun. They have a bar and you can just sit and have tea and another bored but friendly passenger will eventually show up. Or John Barrowman will show up.
The not so nice thing about Virgin is the food. Apart from the mini-cakes they give you for afternoon tea it’s inedible. It said it was chicken. Really? Chicken? Didn’t taste like any chicken I’d ever eaten before. It looked anaemic and boiled. They don’t even give you a toothbrush in their amenity pack any more.
They used to give you Ozwald Boateng black socks with purple toe and heel. Now they give you a tube sock that’s so static with cheapo fabric it gives you an electric shock just to touch it.
It used to have the best entertainment system in the world. Now it’s antiquated, hardly any choices and it’s not a touch screen, it’s a really slow clackety clack handheld device.
Fortunately there was John Barrowman charming, smiling, quick-witted and gorgeous. He kept us all entertained better than any system could anyway.