Henkybaby From Netherlands, joined May 2008, 593 posts, RR: 4 Posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 14075 times:
So much to do, so little time
It has been a hectic time. Not only do I need to prepare for a near 6 month sabbatical (starting December 23rd) but also I needed to go to Dubai and Kenya for business. It may sound strange, but although normally I would welcome opportunities to travel, this time I became a little weary. I have been noticing on my last few flights that air travel has become a mode of transport more than something special. Will I finally become normal?
To ease the transition to a normal traveler I decided to combine my two trips into one report. Not only because of my dwindling enthusiasm, but also because not too much happened worth mentioning and I did not take too many pictures. My last excuse is that I have now travelled in seat 62K or 64K of a British Airways 747-400 so many times that I really do not know what to write about.
September 9th and 13th
BA 429/107 and BA106/430
Seat 64K and 62K
Dubai is not my favorite destination in the world. I find I very artificial and boring. I predicted 2 years ago that Dubai’s bubble would burst and here we go. This short trip was partly to visit a friend who lives there and partly for business. Even though KLM offers direct flights from AMS I prefer to fly BA. The hard product is just so much better and you even get a little bit more sleep since the flight is a little longer.
Not important on the inbound however, since I chose the day flight. It meant an early morning start at AMS but that did not matter to me. I enjoyed a quick snack at the lounge before I headed to the gate. Like always I was there early. I can never seem to time it just right…
The short hop to LHR was uneventful. I declined any food since I wanted to have some at T5. After a short break in the lounge it was time to board our 747 to DXB. I remember that I was surprised when I picked my flight that it was a 747 since I thought they only flew 777 or 767 on this route.
It was with a grin on my face that I selected 64K a couple of weeks ago. Normally I choose 62K but I wanted to try something different this time.
I must say that I liked the cocoon feel that you get in this seat. I did miss the open feel of 62K and I did not like that they lowered the divider for everything where in 62K they approach you from the front. For my next flights I guess I can live with both but I chose 62K for my flight to SYD in 3 weeks. I should realize how lucky I am that I can fly on the UD and that I almost always have the choice of 62/64K.
Service on board was pretty mediocre, like always on BA. It is neither here nor there. I appreciate the friendliness of the crew but the offering are just not that great. The food looks like they took the Y food out of the tinfoil…. I chose the chicken and Mr. Tomlin really let me down there!
A skimpy shrimp cocktail to start
Next was the chicken
Looks pretty good, no? Well, unfortunately after a couple of bites it turned out the chicken underneath had melted or something. It had changed into a disgusting gooey pulp.
When I asked the FA about it she just asked if I wanted something else. Of course everything was sold out so I settled for desert.
The meal being gone I settled in for a couple of hours of reading with a view.
We landed in DXB just before midnight and I rushed myself to my hotel. I stayed in both the Grand Hyatt (not so nice) and the Crowne Plaze Festival City (great hotel!).
Hyatt pool. It is enormous but service is poor
Crowne Plaza room
Crowne Plaza and IC
View from Crowne Plaze hotel room
IC pool available to CP guests too
It was Ramadan in DXB so there was not too much going on. The great advantage of the CP is that it is next to the Festival City mall so there are alternatives to eating hotel food or you can go for a nice air-conditioned walk. The Grand Hyatt is too isolated.
The return trip consisted of getting on board, hoping for a quick take off and sleep. The flight back is basically a jetlagger. Too short for real sleep and you arrive early in the morning. I got a quick connection to Amsterdam, picked up my car, drove home and against all my better judgement I went to bed. I recovered after a day or two…
Next up was a short business trip to Bangalore, India. I have been there many times before and every time it is a tough trip. Normally I fly AF but BA has been very competitive in its pricing lately so I got our TA to make me a booking on BA. Again in a 747 and again on the UD.
November 6th and 15th
BA 429/119 and BA118/440
Seat 62K and 64K
Flying to BLR on BA is not the best choice as far as the flight schedule is concerned. You arrive in BLR at 04:50 (or 05:50 in my case) and no hotel will allow such an early check in. You need to book an extra night (not my problem, but still) and you will be tired for at least two days. That is why I decided to leave on Friday and acclimatize in the West End Hotel.
This was a very last minute trip (booked 5 days before departure) but I still managed to get 62K and 64K which are my two favorite seats. Once again I was pleasantly surprised that a 747 served this route since I remember one earlier trip on BA on a 777. The UD must be one of the nicest places in the sky.
Our flight was pretty much delayed by an hour on the ground. The captain was honest enough to explain that we were waiting for a bunch of F class pax that were delayed. Their inbound from the US was late. I don’t mind, but I wonder if they would have waited for economy pax too.
I did not make any pictures on the inbound. I had put my camera in my carry-on and I did not feel like unpacking it. Unfortunate, since we must have had the best looking crew ever. Gorgeous, very stylish girls with those lovely alternate uniforms (with pants).
The India flights always feature a lot of Indian food on the menu. Although I LOVE Indian food I can never get myself to order it on a plane. When I asked for the lamb they told me it was sold out. Now I am not a DYKWIA person but as a BA Gold I expect to be asked my preference as one of the first. The FA freely admitted to forgetting about that but I was out of luck. I pleaded for her to see if there were any selections left from First, but she explained that they all went to sleep and they could not risk it. Eventually she found me lamb somewhere and I was very grateful.
Bangalore has a new airport and we arrived there 1 hour late. I was lucky that they connected the bridge at the door between CW and WT+ so I was one of the first off the plane. Customs can go a number of ways in India, but this time it was quick. No queue, no annoying overzealous customs clerk, nothing. I had no bags so I headed straight for the taxi stand. It is very easy to get a cab at the airport and they charge under INR 500. A hotel car will easily set you back INR 3500.
My hotel of choice for recuperating from my jetlag was the Taj West End. Normally I stay at the Leela (a slice of heaven on earth!) but that was fully booked. Bummer. The TWE came highly recommended on TripAdvisor but I did not find it as good as the Leela.
The room was fantastic though
After two days I moved to the Taj Residency, since that is a lot closer to our office. Speaking of which, always nice to see it mentioned in a book about Bangalore…
The Residency was a lot more relaxed and had better food options. The weather was bad so there was no pool lounging this time.
View from room
Construction next door. No problem since traffic is noisier.
I spend a nice and productive week working with my team there. They are such great people. Once you know how to work with India it can be rewarding. Exasperating, but rewarding.
There is another good reason to go to India as often as possible
I had added an extra Saturday in the hope to lounge at the pool, but in vain. Sunday morning at 07:50 my flight would leave for LHR. Fortunately I checked the night before if the inbound left on time. It was 45 minutes late due to storms in Europe. More sleep! I asked for a car at 06:00, thinking that Bangalore traffic would mean it would take an hour. I forgot it was Sunday and we arrived after 30 minutes. Upon arrival at the airport I was greeted by the hotel ‘fixer’ who tries to sail you through customs. Even though you have checked in online you still need to check in at the airport too.
The lounge was small but reasonably stocked. A lot of pax in the F lounge. We waited for about 45 minutes for the boarding call.
Side note: on FT someone asked how many time it really takes to check a passport. In India that is (and I did count!) 14 times. The most silly check series was: at the gate, 30 meters later in the bridge and 10 meters later in the aircraft. All three checks by BA staff. Huh?
Eventually I settled in 64K hoping to get some sleep.
Fortunately everyone closed the blinds almost immediately after takeoff and I managed to get some extra sleep.
After a couple of hours I woke up to the lunch service. I cannot remember what it was, only that I found it really annoying that they kept lowering the divider during the service. I decided to skip desert and watched a movie. During the flight I had some sandwiches from the Club kitchen where I actually watched a passenger from WT+ being told not to use the kitchen by the crew. So it does happen.
By now the sun was really blinding and I was awake.
I started noticing how dirty the ac was. There was filth everywhere. Also the lining above 64K always seems to go loose.
One cabin picture just before landing.
We circled for about 20 minutes before landing but we were still on time. We made up about one hour in the air.
Since we were early we got a remote stand. A 747 on a remote stand I find ridiculous. They at least let the F pax off first and in a separate bus, but us poor J class pax had to fold ourselves up to fit in a bus that they packed so tightly that when the door opened a pax actually fell out and hurt himself. We were a bit shaken by the Schumacher style driving. Shame on you BA.
I had to wait around 3 hours at the airport. I nestled at the balcony of the Flounge and even managed to get some work done. I normally (and on principle) refuse to work during travel but I was bored.
The flight to AMS left on time. I had another breakfast on this comfortable flight.
I was glad to see AMS and even gladder to get home. No more flying for me until the end of the year.
Hope you enjoyed these raster hurriedly written reports. Feedback is always appreciated and maybe you can convince me that flying is more than just transportation….
Readytotaxi From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 3559 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 13571 times:
Thank you for that, enjoyed it, very good pics.
You really seem to know what hotels to book, that's experience for you.
I was surprised about the BA catering, it does seem so different from the Atlantic offerings that I sample often. Also you are right to point out the dirty cabin, not acceptable, did you ask for a comment form, I always do if something is wrong, usually get a response in a few days and sometimes a mileage credit.
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
Okapi From France, joined Jun 2006, 228 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 12975 times:
Man, your TRs are always a great feature on a.net! Even though a bit shorter than some others I've read before, this one provides us with a great view of the upfront cabin. BA seems to be cutting costs more than many others and I have the feeling that J pax will soon stand very far from F pax. A real pity as biz clients really expect more than what they nowadays get. However, BA cabin crew usually make the difference. How do you rate BA over EK for a flight to DXB and which is your preferred airline for flights to India out of Europe?
Thanks for sharing.
Djb77 From UK - Scotland, joined Sep 2001, 246 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 12886 times:
Many thanks for this great report! I had a sneaking feeling that you might have experience of staying at the Leela and right I was! My first and only trip to BLR took me to the Leela and what an experience it was: It was also the first time I had actively chosen to go to a day spa and had a fantastic time being pampered, before plunging in their great - enormous - indoor hottub! And the food (in India in general...) You have got me going...
Airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4376 posts, RR: 50
Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 12847 times:
that's a bit shorter then I'm used to, but nevertheless still a facinating read!
Glad to hear that you sticked to BA, but I think quite some details were noted by you to say that BA is failing on your flights at several points. Still I wonder if KL would've done better.
I understand that you keep loyal to your alliances, but have you ever thought about trying Air India or Jet Airways (ex BRU) down to India? We've heard quite some good words on those carriers premium cabins, but I didn't see reports lately, so I wonder what your view would be about them.
And your notices about the B744 cabin; these aircraft begin to show their age. It's noted before by others, including myself in premium cabins on KL and JL B744's upperdeck. It seems that also the budget is reduced to fix these details of the interior.
Your eye for details, and your knowledge about service levels, says me that you're a person that automatically notices about the details of your flights and all around of your travel. This makes you a great reporter here. To keep yourself busy and to keep flying interested for yourself, you might decide to take a look with some other carriers on your future travels?
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
BarfBag From India, joined Mar 2001, 2361 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 12362 times:
Nice report! The BLR part was particularly interesting since I'm there regularly. The cab service to/from the airport is pretty good, and takes just an hour to/from downtown during rush hour, and much less at other times. I've never had any trouble with customs at BLR after the move to the new airport though - the entire international arrivals/departures process is quite streamlined and modern. The old airport was another matter.
Nimish From India, joined Feb 2005, 3345 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 12100 times:
Great report - good to hear about the BLR airport (my home airport). It's the last few months with a 744 on LHR-BLR, it's going to move to the 777 (not sure when - probably start of summer schedule?).
The Taj West End is an institution here in BLR - and exemplifies the "garden" part of BLR's Garden City moniker. The Leela (just across the road from my apartment BTW) is awesome, though frightfully expensive at most times! And nothing quite like Indian food in India - it's quite different from Indian food in any other part of the world !
Did I mention I have been really busy? When my sabbatical starts I will have all the time in the world for long reports again.
Quoting Okapi (Reply 2): I have the feeling that J pax will soon stand very far from F pax
To be honest, I have always found the difference between J and F on BA to be too small to justify the price difference. I am not sure that 'enhancing your J product to death' is the way to increase that gap...
Quoting Okapi (Reply 2): How do you rate BA over EK for a flight to DXB and which is your preferred airline for flights to India out of Europe?
I have never flown EK since I am loyal to OW (and formerly SkyTeam).I have friends in Dubai who say EK can be a hit or a miss. My airline of choice to India from Europe is BA without a doubt.
No way. Not with their slippery slope J class (also on AF) and AF's completely arrogant and uninterested cabin crews. Have you seen the J class on AF's A380? Can you put J class seats closer together? It is a disgrace. No, I am glad I switched to BA, even if it means tranfering in LHR instead of a direct flight.
Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 4): have you ever thought about trying Air India or Jet Airways (ex BRU) down to India?
Air India: never! I have heard horror stories. Jet Airways maybe, but my company has contracts with KL and BA.
Quoting BarfBag (Reply 5): I've never had any trouble with customs at BLR a
It has become better with BIAL. However I have been in a queue there too, caused by an extremely diligent custom official. Also the baggage check can take a while.
Quoting Nimish (Reply 6): just across the road from my apartment BTW
I have lived for 3 months in the Diamond District. I simply became a member at the Leela gym and I could use all their facilities. Maybe a tip?
Directorguy From Egypt, joined Jul 2008, 1784 posts, RR: 10
Reply 8, posted (5 years 7 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 11831 times:
A great TR, I always enjoy your honesty. BA's dining experience does seem rather lackluster and generic. I don't blame you at all for turning down a mushy chicken breast like the one you got. Your photos are enjoyable, I like the angles you shoot from.
Regarding the TR's length, it didn't feel short.
Impressed that the J cabin on BA to BLR wasn't empty.
Quoting Henkybaby (Thread starter): Hope you enjoyed these raster hurriedly written reports. Feedback is always appreciated and maybe you can convince me that flying is more than just transportation….
I think that you have a case of 'travellers' block'-you yourself mentioned you fly the same airlines. While I understand that you tend to use BA/KL for business travel, flying a new airline, and changing the scene will 'inspire' you and remotivate you.
Yes alas I miss the food of Southern India alot, very different to what we stereotype it to be in the UK much of the time. I don't miss northern Indian food as it made me quite ill!
As far as the recommendations go to try a new airline to jump-start your enjoyment of flying, I am hope to write a TR for Kingfisher in the near future. Its in economy but it could inspire you to travel with them...after all their moto is 'Fly the Good Times' and they have perfect FA's etc but a shame they removed their LHR-Bangalore direct flight.
EIDAA From Ireland, joined Oct 2006, 835 posts, RR: 16
Reply 13, posted (5 years 7 months ago) and read 10197 times:
Thanks for another great trip report... a very enjoyable and informative read!
I flew to BLR with BA in late June and was surprised the flight was operated by the B744, but there was certainly a good load on board.
I also stayed at the Taj West End for the one night I had in Bangalore, but as you say, needed to book the previous night's stay also due to the 4am arrival from LHR. The hotel was nice, but I might see if I can get the Leela next time.
I managed to take advantage of the ongoing one-way upgrade offer from J to F on the outbound, so was nicely rested on arrival. After one full day in Bangalore, another in Delhi and then three in Mumbai, I flew back on the BA B777 service ex-BOM in J. Really can't fault BA and like you would always choose them on services to India.
Again, thanks for a great report and I look forward to the next one!
Lfutia From Netherlands, joined Dec 2002, 3406 posts, RR: 32
Reply 16, posted (5 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 9744 times:
Quoting Henkybaby (Reply 7): Air India: never! I have heard horror stories. Jet Airways maybe, but my company has contracts with KL and BA.
I've heard that Air India has changed for the better. I was just so able to go onboard one of their T7's! It looked very very nice and the crew was happy. I heard the food is very tasty. While I have not flown them in 11 years, my mom has just last year and she said they have changed for the better.
As for Jet Airways. That itself is an exceptional carrier. One of the best domestically in India. I havent flown Jet internationally although I normally prefer KL with my stopover in Amsterdam and just 3 years ago, took the nonstop to Delhi on AA. Ja. I definitely missed Amsterdam
Leo/ORD -- Groetjes uit de VS! -- Heeft u laatst nog met KLM gevlogen?
I have lived for 3 months in the Diamond District. I simply became a member at the Leela gym and I could use all their facilities. Maybe a tip?
Wow - small world indeed - that's the apartment complex where I stay!
Thanks for the tip!
Truly a very small world! I'm originally from BLR and my family still stays there, very, VERY close to DD! The Leela truly is an amazing hotel but the Taj West End has a nice, green feel to it
Quoting Henkybaby (Reply 12):
I am ashamed to say that I am a fan on North Indian food... You can find me in a Bombay Post quite often.
You should try 'Tandoor' as well. It's a 5 minutes walk from Taj Residency!
But all of that aside, very nice TR. It has a frank, laid back tone to it I'll be heading back to BLR this Saturday and your trip has gotten me very excited. Although, I'm flying 9W via DEL. The things we do for FF programmes
Also, in my opinion, the BLR airport is very good. I don't understand why so many people complain about the distance. It's never taken me more than an hour, even during peak hours. Obviously, the complainers have never been the Heathrow! And as regards to capacity, I don't think BLR needs any more capacity than the present facilities offer. I've travelled through the airport at all peak times and I've never had a single problem.