The adventure began in style - the number 10 bus to Aberdeen airport. A chance to take the excitement and anticipation of a new adventure and cool it with the tedium of long-distance travel. However our pulses began to pick up again as we arrived at the airport, loaded up our cases and instruments, and headed inside to check in. There had been some uncertainty and concern about how the instruments would be treated, it seemed as if we would be able to carry them with us in the nice, warm cabin but it wasn't totally clear that this would be the case with both airlines. The prospect of surrendering the tools of our trade to the dubious mercies of baggage handlers was not an inviting one but we set forth with hope and optimism.
The airport itself was strangely deserted. I had a tremor of apprehension that the BA strike action had escalated and Aberdeen would be the furthest limit of our journey but the friendly official who helped us through the (oddly confusing) check-in process assured me that Saturday evening was always quiet, and that we were on the last flight out of the day.
We checked in without problems and were given the all-clear to carry the instruments with us (hooray!). The big test would come at Heathrow when we would be boarding our TAM flight to Brazil.
After suffering the usual jokes as we went through the X-ray ( "Give us a tune!") we were on to the plane and away. A short hop to Heathrow, arriving at Terminal 5 where we took full advantage of the artwork on display.
At Heathrow we hit our first crisis - after a extensive bus and walking tour of the airport (which seems to be an inevitable part of air travel nowadays) we arrived at the TAM desk to find nobody there. "They closed up and left five minutes ago" a nearby desk worked told us, but seeing the looks of panic on our faces she helpfully rang for more information and eventually found out that the staff had gone to the gate itself, where we were urged to head for with some urgency as technically we weren't checked in and might find ourselves left behind. Eek!
We set off for Gate 48 and, about twenty minutes later, arrived at what seemed to be the furthest point from the departure lounge. (Why does it always seem that when I fly my gate is always the furthest one away? Did I do something heinous in a previous life?) Here we found the TAM staff and checked in, leaving us just twenty minutes to go back all the way to our starting point to find something to eat. Sigh. A brisk stroll with a cavalier disregard for the official boarding time yielded some sandwiches to tide us over but then we were on to the plane and ready to set off.
The plane was full so it was a challenge finding an overhead locker that could hold the guitar but after a few minutes of 'excuse me'-ing along the aisle I managed to cram it in on top of a pile of other stuff. Making a mental note to myself not to be the first person to reopen the locker once we landed I worked my way back to my seat and settled in. Once we were in the air I did a quick check of the in-flight entertainment (verdict - no) before closing my eyes and settling back and waiting for Brazil to arrive.