We had decided to splurge and do this direction in Business Class -- frighteningly expensive, but gave us a prayer of getting a few hours' sleep on the flight. This made Airport Life *much* cushier: we got separate lines all over the place, and generally got treated much better than the Cattle Class that I'm used to. So we got to go right up to the baggage check, and spent several minutes chatting with the lady behind the counter as she dealt with our luggage. It was all quite friendly and relaxing, and that was the problem: we weren't paying quite enough attention.
The thing is, while they have a number of counters, and a whole bunch of checkin kiosks, they have far fewer printers -- these things all share a few printers. So the lady at the counter printed out our luggage tags, went over to the printer, grabbed the top two tags, put them on our suitcases, and sent us on our way.
You can see where this is going.
As we got to Security, I happened to look at our boarding pass envelope, with the bag-claim tickets attached to it. There was the one with Kate's name, going to LHR. And there was one with the name of some dude I didn't recognize (who, we hypothesized, had checked in at one of the kiosks at the same moment), going to AUS.
We ran back to the counter, only to find that the lady who had helped us was nowhere to be found. The rest of the staff spent half an hour looking for her, but it eventually transpired that she caught the mistake even before we did. Problem is, the suitcase was already heading down to the airplane by then. So she had dashed down to the tarmac and spent half an hour digging around in the plane to Austin, TX, trying to find my suitcase. (She was quite rumpled by the time she got back to the counter.) This was not made any easier by the fact that it was a new suitcase, with no name tag on it. Sadly, she didn't manage to find it, and the plane departed for Texas with my bag still aboard, but she got points for trying. So I described it -- fortunately, I had picked up a habit from my late mother-in-law, and wrapped five brightly-colored Velcro cable ties around the handle, making it easy to recognize if you know what you're looking for. She filed a report in gory detail, told us to go to the baggage claim as soon as we landed in Heathrow, and that was that.
That mild crisis aside, the flight itself was lovely. Business Class was fairly decadent. The food was surprisingly decent -- I had a Shrimp and Scallop Curry for dinner, plus a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, and a glass of port. (The prospect of no driving for 10 days did have its perks.) I spent an hour or so playing Bejeweled 2 on the screen in front of me; I thought about watching a movie, but Kate prevailed on me to try to sleep. I largely failed in that, but at least got to doze on the lie-nearly-flat seat. (The seat itself was a glorious toy with its own control panel: five preset positions plus manual controls for virtually every aspect of it.)
And so Friday ended, somewhere over the Atlantic ocean, bleeding rather quickly into Saturday...