Correspondent Report: London 2012 – Great (Britain) Expectations (plus the Chase Visa VIP Lounge)

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RTC Correspondent Hao Tran is in London, if you are in London or want to contact Hao, you can reach him on twitter or email.

The week before the London Olympics was expected to produce a record number of passengers, yet the Rapid Travelling correspondent’s experience at Heathrow was surprisingly efficient.

I landed at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, hoping to get into London at a reasonable hour. Passport control and navigating the Tube were easy and did not reflect the high probability of gridlock as predicted by the papers. Thus far, my experience with local transport has been flawless – not really sure what the fuss from the press is about. From the airport, I arrived at my Airbnb hosts’ home in less than 45 minutes (that’s my referral link; any support for the volunteer correspondent is welcome).

London 1

British Airways inflight entertainment

London 2

The UK Border at Terminal lines!

My first day at the Visa VIP Lounge was beyond expectations. There was a full spread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as access to an open bar. Each cardholder can bring up to five guests, so I brought along some friends from my university. The lounge itself is situated at 116 Pall Mall, which is home to the Institute of Directors, a members only club within walking distance of the Charing Cross and Piccadilly Circus Underground stations.

There are plenty of interesting people here. I’ve befriended three students from the London School of Economics (we plan to go punting in Oxford after the Olympics). Our group also encountered an older man who bum-rushed our table and later returned to profusely apologize (thanks to his wife). Turns out he is the director of a venture capitalist fund in the Silicon Valley and now he owes me a drink! If any RTC readers are here in London, I’m the student with the laptop near the only available outlet in the lounge.

London 3

Argentina vs. Italy

Additionally, Visa members can make up to two reservations for the Chef Morimoto experience for the duration of the Olympic Games. However, there is also access via a wait list for each day. As a student I have so far made sure to take advantage of that. Free (and high quality) food is hard to turn down.

On the morning of the 31st, I also managed to snag a free £65 courtside volleyball ticket after overhearing that Visa was attempting to “fulfill its corporate obligation” to fill seats. An account executive who works on Chase co-branded cards was on hand to pass them out.

London 4

The London 2012 OMEGA clock in Trafalgar Square

London 5

Open bar at the Visa VIP Lounge

London 6

One pass for each day

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10 years ago

Dinner is buffet. You are limited to a 30 min seating.

10 years ago

I was there for the Nadia Comaneci meet and greet. I had agreat time! Cheers!