Henkybaby From Netherlands, joined May 2008, 593 posts, RR: 4 Posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 16190 times:
Date: June 7th 2008
Route(s): MRU - LHR and LHR - AMS
Airline(s): BA and KLM
Aircraft: 747 and 737-400
Seats: 2A (First) and 15A (economy)
Lounges: MRU BA lounge and 'The Holideck' (yes, really) at LHR T4
One of the advantages of having a PDA is that you can write your trip report 'on the go'. Let me try that for this one. Please let me know what you think of this 'style': reading what I think while I travel.
I just got up at 5:30 in the morning to catch my 9 o'clock flight from MRU to LHR. That's early, even for me. Although I have only carry on luggage they still insist I be at the airport 2 hrs before departure. I cut it to 1.5 hrs but still. I did not manage to check in online yesterday, probably because I hold a paper RTW. I did notice that they changed my Hold & Confirmed seat for the LHR - DXB flight from a window seat to a center seat without reason but since this flight is not until September I am confident I can still change that.
I am driven to the airport by a (to his own admission!) half blind cabby and this is really noticeable in his driving style. Very adventurous and not much worse than what I got used to in India.
The check in at MRU starts somewhat frustrating. My carry on is slightly to big according to the no doubt very well intending pre check-in staff. I explain that I am flying First class and that they will let me take it on board. They still refuse to tag it. The nice girl at check-in explains to them it will be no problem and only now will the somewhat annoyed support staff put a tag on it. Customs is swift, even though they are being very thorough. Lots of staff always helps.
BA Lounge at MRU (little under exposed but I did not want to use flash)
I arrive at the BA lounge which is surprisingly busy. Filled to the brim even. They closed of part of it since some Mauritian government officials are travelling. I will be seeing them later no doubt (it turns out I won’t). Officials of a poor country always seem to travel 'in style'. No wonder the population here calls them robbers. It looks like it is going to be a full flight.
BA Lounge at MRU
I know that First is entirely full. I am looking forward to my first experience in First but would have liked a less crowded plane for it. That may be the disadvantage flying from MRU: lots of honeymooners who splurged on a ticket. From the lounge you do have a good view of the a/c that's gonna take us to LHR. I have always liked the 747 best and probably always will. No 380 experience yet, so this may change. The 747 for me however has always symbolized travel and adventure and that is not going to change.
Aircraft from lounge at MRU
Aircraft from lounge at MRU (wider shot)
Surprisingly there were no boarding calls in the lounge. When I saw people using the air bridge (yes, finally after 8 flights no busses!) I made my way to the aircraft.
Aircraft from bridge at MRU
Arriving at the aircraft the staff seemed a little preoccupied and thus made for a slightly chaotic boarding process. Arrived as one of the last in the F cabin so I felt a bit hesitant to start snapping away with my camera. After I was seated I was quickly offered champagne, but since it is only 9 am I chose water instead.
My seat (2A) for the trip MRU - LHR
Even though this is a day flight I was offered a pair of the famous BA PJ's. It is a Large and I guess I will find out if they fit when I get home (they do and are very comfy!). The menu looks OK. After the dreadful food at the hotel I stayed at here (avoid La Pirogue!) I am sure it will taste great. Now, how does it feel to be in a BA First class seat for the first time in one’s life? I must say: not bad, but not as much of 'wow factor' as I anticipated.
Reading the paper just before take off
Maybe also because the cabin is so crowded that I feel it is less spacious than I anticipated. The seat itself is very good (but not really better than C) and I am sure that the flight is going to be great. The main difference between F and C seems to be the privacy. We need to switch off the electronic devises now. Enjoy some pictures taken from the plane while on the runway. More later.
I love the 'old school look' of Air Mauritius
Nice Air Mauritius Airbus
MRU Airport from Runway
Ok, we are up in the air. Smooth take off it was, although you do feel everything up here in front (like the wheels going up and the doors shutting). Also 'turbulence' seems a little more pronounced here. But I am not complaining since I actually like that. I notice that although this being a day flight almost everybody changed into their PJ's. I can’t be tempted though. I am wearing pretty comfortable clothes already. I have gotten my phone (off line) out and will try to take some pictures later. Just got served some nice looking snacks and I will start watching the movie 10.000 BC next. Typing with this shaking is impossible anyways. May I once again recommend the Etymotic earplug headphones as a far superior product to the Bose headsets...
Ok, 10.000 bc did not hold my attention. We are still shimmying left and right and that always makes me sleepy, so I - successfully - tried out the sleeping position. Got out the comfy pillow (which turned out to be the rolled up mattress , so this maybe a good tip... ) and fell asleep within 5 mins. That’s what you get when you get up so darn early. Woke up after 2 hrs and decided on brunch. I had the salmon (ok) and the scrambled eggs (not so good). Started to watch the bucket list after brunch and so far it looks good. Let's adjust the seat a little to find the perfect sleep/movie-watch position...
BA First seat controls
The movie remained very good. Must remember to do something like that with my best friend someday. Without the dying part that is. They switched on the blue mood lighting a moment ago and I guess I am sleepy (again). It is a fairly loud group on board today. At least one man is whom I can hear talking through my earplugs. Ah well, at least I am in 2A and not next to the guy.
Mood lighting in BA F
Ok, another two hour of sleep. Nice not to sleep through the entire flight like I normally do. I went to the galley to get some snacks but to my surprise there is no such thing like the Club World Kitchen. You have to order everything. Not always in the mood for that. I asked for some ice (they had run out) and decided on some sandwiches (from Club World). Still strange there is no kitchen in First.
Have started to watch 'the other Boleyn girl' now. Always nice to have a movie with both my favorite actresses in it.
It is now approximately 7,5 hrs into the flight. Just ordered a bacon roll from Maria, our lovely flight attendant. The Anna Boleyn movie wasn't half bad. Never realized that part of British history was influenced so much by hornyness. But then again it is BRITISH history...
BA F seat (2K on 747)
So far the main advantage of flying in First is that you can order food at any time. I am sure that I would not pay the extra money for first over business on a regular ticket. However, this is only my first flight of many to come and maybe the First class lounge facilities at LHR will convince me otherwise. The bacon roll was nicer than it looked. Still doubting if I should have lunch on board or later on Heathrow. I have a two hour lay over at T4. Should be enough but I also want to do some shopping. Let's do it 2 hrs before arrival.
Mood picture BA First class seat
I pressed my little 'attendant' light about 10 minutes ago. I am really surprised no one has showed up yet. Is this the famous First class service everyone is so enthusiastic about? We will see how long it will actually take them but so far the votes from the Dutch jury: BA - zero points. Finally I gave up and went and ordered from the galley directly. I chose the mushroom croustade and the fillet of beef. Since I am having a party tonight anyway I also treated myself to a glass of champagne. Let the good times roll!
Pre dinner setup in BA First
Lunch was disappointing. Although eating on airplanes is not my reason to fly, I expected quite a lot after all the raving reviews here. Now I am somewhat of a gourmet, so maybe that explains my limited enthusiasm. The beef was really well done and everything else slightly undercooked. The mushroom pie was kinda nice, but I have had better meals on CX or KLM/AF business class.
We are over Auxerre now and it is time to freshen up. Still a two hour lay over and a short flight to AMS ahead of me. Hope the arrivals lounge at T4 is open. I am somewhat doubtful. Something tells me it closes at noon and verification with the FA confirms that. Ah well, just will have to settle for the KLM lounge at T4. Hope they have showers. Never used them before. We are now at less than 30 minutes for landing and I think I will start to pack my stuff again. I have a nesting tendency, so my seat space is filled with some of my stuff. I still don't like its when they spray the cabin with that very cancerous 'insect agent orange'. I read it is forbidden in some countries. If I survive there will me more later from T4.
Landing at LHR was very smooth. Can't remember such a relaxed landing ever. We disembarked quickly.
Disembarking BA F (747 at LHR)
Since I had been unable to check in online in Mauritius for my KLM flight I had to get to the KLM transit desk opposite gate 19. (Anybody else think KLM has the worst website of all major airlines? So many technical problems...) Luckily the line at the transfer desk was not long (they did not have a priority lane). Checking in went smooth and next it is of to the lounge (T4 next to gate 16). It is called 'the Holideck' in some sort of Star Trek analogy and whoever thought of that should be shot on the spot. It is a good lounge for short layovers but I need a shower and that they do not offer. Food offerings aren’t bad and it is substantially better than KLM's own lounges at Schiphol. Shame on you, KLM (again).
Holideck lounge at LHR T4 (at Gate 16)
Holideck lounge at LHR T4 (at Gate 16)
The flight from LHR to AMS was very quiet. Only 50% or so. I was distracted all the flight by a nice girl sitting next to me and we chatted the whole flight, so only one picture.
Exit seat on KLM 737. More room than in 'Business'. Perfect!
When I got home it turned out that a day of travelling (First class notwithstanding) is tiring and I opted out for the party that had been planned. Got out my First PJ’s and slept for a solid 9 hrs.
Comments about the style and content always appreciated. More reports to write...
CityofAthens From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 15523 times:
Thanks for taking the time to compile the report - it was very interesting.
I have to share some of your thoughts - I was lucky enough to be given a seat in the First cabin on a flight from ORD-LHR.
Although I was very grateful for this upgrade, I was a little bit underwhelmed ... the seat is spacious but not very wide - the food was definitely average ... I know that some of the food served in the Club cabin has been tastier and more presentable ... and the crew were a little cold ... although I know the latter can vary enormously on BA
The MRU route as you may or may not know (but certainly noticed) is an extremely busy one for the airline ... it is a very popular destination in Britain. Having said this, the frequency of the service is probably partly responsible (not a daily service).
I am very surprised to read that not a single crewmember answered your call bell ... especially in the First cabin, where there are only 14 seats ... inexcusable.
I am happy to say that the First cabin is due for a (belated) upgrade ... one of the niggles I have with the company is that they rely too much on their reputation for service in order to make up for the fact that none of the products are cutting-edge when compared to SQ, for instance.
Given the very poor reputation BA now has for losing baggage, the company needs to put some energy into efforts to regain lost revenue from premium pax.
Henkybaby From Netherlands, joined May 2008, 593 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (7 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 15296 times:
All my criticism aside we should not forget I bought an AONE6 RTW ticket which was only EUR 800 more expensive than the same ticket in D. The difference between D and A is very small on BA. It is bigger on Quantas and CX.
Also the price for an AONE6 RTW is very competitive compared with Star Alliance. Unfortunately as an Sky Team Gold Elite I must admit they do not even play in the same league. They do not offer the F product or on too few routes. I think OW realizes that it's F product is worse than *Alliance (except for CX), hence the price difference.
All in all I accept the slightly inferior product OneWorld offers because of the 20% to 30% price difference.
What does worry me is that because of the difference in product quality CX gives you a very hard time in honouring a reservation in First when you have bought an AONEx from BA.
Fbgdavidson From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 3826 posts, RR: 26
Reply 7, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 14001 times:
Quoting Henkybaby (Thread starter): I pressed my little 'attendant' light about 10 minutes ago. I am really surprised no one has showed up yet. Is this the famous First class service everyone is so enthusiastic about?
Was the AVOD being reset? I found out that this causes the call-bell to be essentially inoperative...
Quoting Henkybaby (Reply 5): I think OW realizes that it's F product is worse than *Alliance (except for CX), hence the price difference.
Really, I couldn't see a 30% justification in price difference? I'd say in the international First cabin department between the OW airlines you have a much better chance of getting a world class product than you do on Star Alliance; QF, BA. CX, JL, AA vs. NH, Asiana, LH, SQ, LX, TG, UA
You might say NH and SQ are better than the oneworld options but then you have UA dragging their knuckles and a massively inconsistent product on TG.
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
Airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4402 posts, RR: 50
Reply 9, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 13874 times:
nice report, good pics !
Can it be that your F experience was less because the flight originated from MRU? Might it be that the crew just thought 'oh, these travellers are not our regular F clients', and on a honeymoon or vacation only?! Maybe that's why you got less service? Because it sounds really poor for F, at least to me.
About your short KL flight, yeah this airline made the wrong choice to seel C class in 3-3 layout, standard config. Seats the same as Y. No way that I would ever pay for C class on KL for a shorthaul route. You opted for the right seat, good choice
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
Henkybaby From Netherlands, joined May 2008, 593 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 13857 times:
Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 9): Might it be that the crew just thought 'oh, these travellers are not our regular F clients', and on a honeymoon or vacation only?!
Quite honestly: very possible. It was the same in the hotels in Mauritius. People not used to 5 star service so they got 3 star service at a 5 star property. I complained to the hotel GM and because I speak his language (friend of mine is asset manager in the industry) got a 50% refund.
Cambrian From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 620 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 13788 times:
Quoting Henkybaby (Reply 10): Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 9):
Might it be that the crew just thought 'oh, these travellers are not our regular F clients', and on a honeymoon or vacation only?!
Absolutely! Try flying BA First from Barbados- I do it several times a year. The product and service is very patchy. BA First is way overrated and not only are the seats, IFE and food due for a massive revamp, but their crew also needs to get their act together. So inconsistent, and the attitude really does seem to be, "You are on holiday, so we will get away with the bare minimum".
Don't they realise that passengers who travel First for leisure are quite likely to use premium cabins when they travel on business?
Henkybaby From Netherlands, joined May 2008, 593 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (7 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 13756 times:
Quoting Cambrian (Reply 11): Don't they realise that passengers who travel First for leisure are quite likely to use premium cabins when they travel on business?
I am afraid that business travel is too often ruled by company policies, so travellers have little choice. That is why on the business routes the services is often better (or so I have heard, cos I only flew C before). I think it is bad practise, since especially people who pay for this class out of their own money should possibly even get better service.
I was underwhelmed by BA F. Hope it improves. My next RTW will probably be in D cos I really think the extra money is not well spend.