The event began on Thursday 25th October with a champagne reception in the beautiful Library Suite on the ground floor. This event was kindly sponsored by The Churchill with free-flowing champagne and soft drinks, and a variety of canapés, including mini hamburgers, tuna tartare cornets and goats cheese. This was the first time most attendees had met, but soon everyone was chatting as though old friends.
Towards the end of the champagne reception, goody bags were handed out (the remainder were given out on Saturday). The total value of goody bag contents was around £80 with a number of great products. These included a male or female skincare product from the premium spa brand Espa - for those of you who received the Hydrator, this is ideal for when you're travelling extensively as planes tend to really dry the skin. Also in the goody bag was a mini bottle of champagne, courtesy of American Express (hopefully everyone who wanted to remembered to apply for the Gold card with a bonus 30,000 membership reward points). For anyone feeling peckish, there was a bar of chocolate from Willie's Cacao (check out the program on Youtube) and a pot of British Humbugs thanks to Miles from Blighty. For those who sought a different kind of nutrition, there was a copy of Hunger magazine, by the World-famous photographer Rankin - beautiful photographs and detailed interviews. A really useful contribution, for all of us who travel with multiple chargers, was a cable tidy from Moore Innovations - just plug the socket in and wrap the cable round. Lastly, Driven2travel gave a small Arabic gift of some chocolate-covered dates - a taste of Arabia to whet the appetite for the MegaDo next year in AUH and MLE.
Next, it was into overalls and slippers and we experienced being in a lifeboat. It was cosy with 20 odd of us, yet the raft is for 75 people - it's difficult to imagine what it would be like in an emergency situation. Our challenge in the life raft was to set up the canopy as quickly as possible - the Brownies hold the record at 55 seconds, but we didn't do too badly at 63. If only we hadn't got it upside down to start with!
Perhaps the highlight came last, as we were invited to go down the slide. From the top, it looks very high and steep and you pick up quite a bit of speed through the descent. The brake pads at the bottom (in black) really slowed you down so your upper half catapults you forwards to standing position.
Everyone who attended had a great day and learnt more about Virgin Atlantic - an airline some of us may not have flown as they are not (yet) in an alliance (though an announcement on this is expected in the next few months, most of us expect it to be Star Alliance). I would like to thank the whole team involved in our day. Visiting the Base has definitely made us more determined to fly Upper Class - it is a much better product than the other business class options on UK airlines.
In the evening, some of us visited 4030 at the top of the Gherkin for dinner - thanks American Express for the transfer and the champagne. Others went to the British Museum to the Shakespeare exhibition, and enjoyed champagne and canapés courtesy of AMEX.