Today, I have learned several important facts:
1. Virgin Atlantic habitually overbooks its London to New York flights by 15 to 30 passengers.
2. Virgin Atlantic closes the gates for their flights out of Heathrow half an hour sooner than they close their gates out of JFK.
3. The combination of facts #1 and #2 mean that should you arrive at Heathrow, say, 2 minutes after gate-closing for your flight, there are INSTANTLY 20 to 50 passengers ahead of you in line for a standby ticket for the next flight…and for every other departing flight that day.
4. The odds of getting a standby seat when there are 30 angry people in line ahead of you are small. Very, very small. So small that normally understated British ticket agents will use phrases like “Well… it’s possible that a miracle could happen…”
The upside to this? Two extra nights in London! Woohoo! The downside? Two extra nights in London that my employers were rather expecting me to be spending in New York City. Oops.
Allegedly, Richard Branson’s latest venture is to commercialize Space Ship One and start a private space tourism industry. After this trip (and I haven’t even gotten to how late our flight left JFK on the outbound leg), I am now 100% in favor of this, as it will afford us an actual opportunity to launch Branson into space… and leave him there.