Well... I'm still alive, just, to be able to tell you that Terminal 5 at Heathrow is NOT working properly, and neither are BA's planes. (BA, in this context, is British Airways not Mr. Baracus from the A-Team, he most definitely ain't gettin' in no plane, and now I know why.)
After a relatively smooth entry to the airport, we waved goodbye to our luggage for the last time and set off to the departure gates. I sat looking for potential terrorists, completely overlooking the fact that the guys in the blue uniforms were the ones who I had to fear most from.
13:50 we were all aboard and ready for take off. Except that someone wasn't. Apparently last week a passenger on the no-fly list had managed to board the plane and they had to remove ALL the bags before putting them all back on, bar one. They had to do this again today.
16:50 after 3 hours on the tarmac we were finally ready to go.
18:45 ohholyshitImgoingtodie. Except the news people reported it thus.
Let me report it more accurately - pilot interrupted my film to say "Senior member of cabin crew to flight deck IMMEDIATELY". Immediate gut wrench. Then another announcement of "There's a problem with the hydraulics", followed by "we're going to ditch some fuel to get down to the correct landing weight, nothing to worry about". My wife didn't tell me until we landed, but apparently they only do that if they're worried about the plane ditching early and exploding. Great stuff.
Well, we were apparently chased down the runway by 5 fire engines when we landed, and there was a round of applause for the captain. The only good thing to come out of this experience was that I spied Chris Boyd (Paperghost) a few seats back on the way back from the (inevitable) toilet stop once we'd landed. We chatted for a while and apparently Chris has some cracking photos, so you should stop by there for the video diary.
As they let us off the plane to retrieve our luggage and get a hotel for the night, 2 things happened. They lost our luggage and couldn't find a hotel for the night. As far as I know, my luggage is either in a) Terminal 5, Heathrow, b) San Francisco, c) Milan/Warsaw/Singapore or d) jettisoned over the Atlantic with 20 tons of kerosene.
We've ended up in the South Court Hotel in Limerick, which is lovely, but it's now 1am and I have to be up at 7. I hope I'll make it to San Francisco tomorrow. God how I pray.