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BA58 Cape Town Intl (CPT) - London Heathrow (LHR)
Date: 11 December 2004
Departure (scheduled): 20:25
Arrival (scheduled): 06:20 +1
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Cabin: World Traveller Plus
Seat: 19D

As soon as you pass through security and immigration and enter the Departure Hall, the BA lounge is situated on the left hand side. It was empty when I went in, although it was about 4 hours before the flight (I was surprised it was even open). But the kind lounge attendant let me leave my bags under her watchful gaze, while I scooted round to do some shopping for everyone back home!

When I returned to the lounge, I determined to have a shower so that I would be fresh for the flight home. Once again, the shower rooms were very pleasant and I had a lovely relaxing shower. Once this was done, I simply waited out the remaining time in the lounge, catching up with news from home thanks to a copy of the Telegraph and consumed a few beers.

Boarding was a bit chaotic, and although I left the lounge early, I had to queue for about 15 mins before getting on the plane. My hoped-for upgrade and/or seat change didn't materialise, apparently all the bulkhead seats in the cabin were taken, but as I found out when I boarded, this was not actually the case at all .

Luckily though the cabin was not even half full and I had the seat next to me free to store my bits and bobs. Its amazing what a difference this makes.

The flight didn't appear to be that busy at all, maybe its because it was a Saturday night, I suppose its busier on the Sunday. Therefore pushback occurred relatively soon and we on our way to the runway. Take off was much quieter even than the newer 737 and we soon climbed up into the South African sky.

Dinner was the ubiquitous Chicken or Beef, I had the beef and it was fine. I also took a couple of beers, but was keen not to drink too much, but to try and get as much sleep as possible. Having watched a few short entertainment programs, I decided to recline the seat and get some kip.

And that was that really, until we were somewhere near Menorca! I had managed to sleep for 8-9 hours from Namibia all the way to the Mediterranean! That was the most sleep, and I must say most comfortable sleep, I had ever got on an aircraft. Forget First class, I'm going to travel back here more often I think (only joking, of course ).

Breakfast service was started as we crossed the Mediterranean coast and consisted of the standard fare. Due to the time of year, it was still dark outside right until we landed in London. The descent was again smooth and impressively timely given the usual mad 6am long-haul rush into Heathrow.

As we all know however, clearing ATC is only part of the story, especially when you've got Terminal 4 to contend with. Well, how wrong could I be. For the first time in ages, we pulled straight off the runway, taxied directly to stand and after a short wait at immigration, the luggage came out within 10 mins or so. Must be some sort of record for T4.

Well that was it. I was back in Blightey, feeling surprisingly fresh after a 12 hour flight and even the Heathrow Express being out of action didn't dent my spirits as I boarded the replacement bus for the 30 min (at this time on a Sunday morning!) run into Paddington.

It had been a wonderful holiday and a great chance to see some of South Africa.