November 22, 2000:
British Airways Flight 2143 (LGW-BWI) -- Boeing 767-300ER
Well, after my summer of unreal first and business class flying, it was back to the real world of economy class. I decided to go home (actually to my Aunt's house in Maryland) for Thanksgiving, so like many other people, I had a flight set for the Wednesday before the big day.
The car service arriaved at 7:45 AM and within 30 minutes, I was at london's Victoria Station. I headed up the stairs to the British Airways Gatwick check-in. As I was their way early, I expected to have no trouble getting a bulkhead seat. No such luck. As I now know, BA has a lot of connecting traffic and I assume those seats were long gone. I got seat 20A.
I then caught the Gatwick Express train to the airport. Due to the ongoing troubles with the British rail system, the normal 30 minute trip took an hour. No problem as I still had plenty of time to catch my flight. The train lets you off near the South Terminal and then I had to catch a train up to the North Terminal, where BA operates most of its flights. Once at the airport, I went though security and searched for a present for my aunt and my godson. I ended up getting a wild Scottish smoked salmon for my aunt and a London mailbox/piggybank for my godson.
After a while, our gate was called and I headed down to gate 61. I saw that the aircraft had not been re-painted and was still waering the old old grey and blue scheme. It was named City of Toulouse (ironic that it was a Boeing aircraft). Our tickets were taken as we entered the gate area and, as such, you could pretty much board when you wanted to. I waited till my row was called and got on board. The seat was fairly confortable and the leg room was better than I expected. I could tell that the aircraft had the new interior, but there were no PTVs (although a space was left for them in each seatback and the control untis were installed under the seat). Before takeoff, we were given a menu, which was a nice touch. Due to residual delays stemming from a thunderstorm that wnet through the airport earlier, wew did not take off until an hour after our scheduled time.
About 30 minutes into the flight, we got drinks and then lunch. The choice was between lamb and chicken curry. I had the lamb which was fairly good. Along witht the lamb, we had prawn salad, a roll and a rhubarb tart for desert. The portions were bigger than I expected.
The movie was Disney's The Kid, which I had no interest in, so I inquired about a flightdeck visit. I ended up spending two hours with the pilots. The flight missed needing a reserve pilot by ten minutes. This crew was usually assigned to flying the shorthaul 767 flights that BA operates and were not used to such a long cruise. Our route took us much farhter north than expected (passing just south of Greenland) and then we flew strait down Canada, New York and New Jersey on into Baltimore. After a few hours, I retruned to my seat and started watching the sencond movie, which was the Perfect Storm. Afternoon tea was served and included three sandwiches (egg salad, salmon and mesquite chicken) as well as a scone with clotted cream. It was actually quite a satisfying meal.
Soon we passed over New York and had quite a nice view of Manhattan and JFK. Within 35 minutes of that, we were on the grouind at BWI. There was no holding, no delays and no line at customs/immigration. All in all, I would say BWI is a great airport to fly into from an international flight.
November 26, 2000:
British Airways flight 2142 (BWI-LGW) -- Boeing 767-300ER
I got to the airport and finally got my bulkhead seat (17A). I took a walk around the airport and then headed to Gate E-1. I saw that my plane was painted in the new new BA scheme (Union Jack). We were parked next to a Ghana Airways DC-10 and across from a ATA L-1011 operating a military charter to Sigonella (does nayone know where that is?). Soon the call came to board and we got on. The flight was at best 3/4 full.
After takeoff we were sereved dinner, whcih was a choice between chicken or steak. I had the steak, which was fairly good. It came with a smoked salmon appitiezer and a pumpkin cheese cake for desert.
My seat was great with plenty of legroom and no one next to me. I almost felt giulty with the amount of room I had!
Unlike the previous flight, we took a very southernly route this night, only making it as foar north as 50N. We flew over the southwest coadt of England and into Gatwick, landing 20 minutes early. I was out of the airpoirt fairly quickly, and backat home within two hours of landing (and I live in north London).
All in all, the flights were good and coach was not as bad as I had percieved it to be. Although I preferred Virgin's meals, the BA seat was far better and more confortable with more legroom.