As much as my brother may praise Virgin Atlantic's onboard entertainment system, and as much as they tend to be my airline of choice, I'd still much rather not be in a plane at all. It's the best of a bad deal. I've flown enough times to know more or less the way it all works - to the extent that I even half-jokingly time myself to see how quickly I can get through customs and security at each side - so my advice to other transatlantic flyers:
- The best economy-class seats to get are the exit row seats - the ones at the front of a block of seats, just behind an emergency exit. Virgin, at least, charge an extra GBP75 for them, but in theory they have to be filled by able-bodied passengers in case of an emergency, so it never hurts to ask if they need to move you to one. However, be careful not to take the window seat in the exit row - the doors often have big protrusions that result in that seat having even less legroom than a regular one.
- If you can't get an exit row, the best seats to get are the aisle seats in the central block. The aisle lets you stick your legs out, and being in the central block usually means fewer people climbing over you than the aisle seats in the side blocks.
- A number of airlines let you "check in online" the day before flying, so that when you actually get to the airport all you really need to do is drop off your bags. The bag drop is done in a separate queue, and most people haven't caught on to the online check-in yet, so it's frequently shorter. (That said, it looked like there was a 'DIY check in' that had an even shorter queue - need to look into that one for next time).
- Get through security as soon as possible. There's no reason to hang about ground-side - air-side usually has plenty of restaurants and shops too. (If you're flying international then they may be duty free, too).
- At Heathrow, at least, it seems to be possible to buy things with dollars instead of pounds. Useful if you changed all your cash over already.
- Wander over to the gate in plenty of time if possible, but you don't have to rush to get onto the plane the moment they announce that your section is boarding. The seating in the gate waiting area usually has much more legroom (and hips-room) than the seats in the plane. They're not about to leave without you provided there are still people queuing to get onboard, so sit and watch and wait, and if you time it right you can just get up out of your seat and walk straight onto the plane without waiting. (Don't leave it too late or you'll end up delaying the flight).
- Once seated, take your shoes off. I think I'll store mine in the overhead once I'm done writing this, too.
This flight's pretty full, and I've seen a number of people who are definitely going to GDC. I think - though being not 100% sure (and somewhat shy) I didn't approach them to find out - that I recognised Kieran O'Connell from Rare, and Dan Marchant (better known to GDNet forum regulars as 'Obscure').
We're about an hour and a half into the flight now, maybe a little less. Currently in fasten-seatbelts mode owing to turbulence. Sigh.
I'm looking forward to this GDC. My schedule is packed - the session planner link I posted earlier should give you some idea, but to add to that I've also booked interviews with a number of companies at the expo. Off the top of my head, that includes Vivox (who make voice tech), Novint, who I think were the guys with the funky controller but I need to check, and there was someone else but I've forgotten who offhand. There's also some stuff to sort out with NVidia, but that's less of an interview and more of a holding people at gunpoint and demanding 8800s.
And of course, I'm not just here as press. I believe that all the 'senior staff' from GameDev.net are in attendance - certainly Kevin and Dave are both there, I'll finally get to meet Oluseyi in person, and I think I'm rooming with Drew this year - so we should be able to have some good conversations about the site and its future.
I think I'm going to have a go at watching some of the films now. They've got a nice on-demand system here, so rather than having to pick from a set of 6 or so and then tune in at the right time, you can pick whatever you want from a set of about 50, pause, rewind, etc. I also know that it's based on Linux, from my flight a while back where my chair crashed and had to be rebooted. I got to watch the startup sequence, which was quite revealing...