63bobster From Netherlands, joined Jan 2012, 43 posts, RR: 0 Posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 9198 times:
Hi again, here comes my 5th trip report. You will find my previous trip reports at the end.
I like to visit some a number of good airshows each year and that includes the Farnborough airshow every even year and Le Bourget every odd year.
I reckoned that it would be wise to make hotel arrangements and flight reservations well in advance as the Farnborough Airshow would take place right between Wimbledon and the 2012 Games. When I mentioned the idea to my father he was very keen to come along so I arranged for 2 single rooms in Central London and two return tickets on British Airways AMS-LGW LHR-AMS. As both Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow can be very crowded in July we opted to upgrade to Club Europe to avoid crowded waiting areas and long queues. Besides, we are both familiar with CE and it is always nice to have some extra comfort while travelling.
Amsterdam to London Gatwick
Flight: BA 2763
Aircraft: Boeing 737-400
We already had mobile boarding-passes, saving paper and queues and headed for the airport. After a very swift passport control (priority lane) we started the long walk to Lounge 40 / BA Terrace Lounge, with a 15 minutes stop at the ‘Rijksmuseum’. Arriving at the lounge there was some bad news: We would get a lot more Lounge then we bargained for as our flight would have a 01:15 hr. delay due to a very late departure on it’s previous flight (DBV – LGW). Trying to grab another flight was pointless, all earlier flights to London were fully packed.
After a rather long but pleasant stay in BA’s lounge it was finally time to head to the gate. We were among the last passengers to arrive at the security checkpoint and it struck me once again how annoying security-personnel at AMS can be: They may be a friendly bunch but have a certain way of discussing ‘their’ passenger with their colleagues indiscretely or very loudly joking about their plans for an upcoming night-on-the-town to a colleague standing 15 meters away. A bit unprofessional, to say the least.
At that time the 737 had only just arrived but BA did everything to turn around the aircraft as quickly as possible. And indeed 20 minutes later all CE passengers and Executive Club Gold members were invited to board. As this announcement was taken as an invitation by almost every single passenger to rush to the gate(not uncommon at AMS) the gate agent had a hard time to make the boarding procedures clear.
We got to our seats 2D and 2F (the convertible ones: two seats left and three seats right with a blocked middle seat) and were welcomed with hot towels. It was not my first time on a BA 737-400 in CE (usually A320’s) but somehow the legroom was more noticeable than on previous flights.
We were pushed away from the gate very quickly and lucky enough Schiphol had runway 24 in use for departures, with its holding point very close to our gate and a departure heading that is already -roughly- the same as to our final destination.
The wind was slightly unfavourable so after all the flying time was almost an hour. Dinner in CE today was a very nice Ceasar salad with a choice of chicken or salmon and the very friendly female FA did her utmost to fill every passenger with as many drinks as he or she could handle on this short flight (not me!).
We arrived at LGW after roughly one hour and proceeded through passport control immediately to the ticket vending machines of the Gatwick Express and went to our hotel in Central London and after some Sushi we went back to the hotel for a good sleep.
Saturday morning the weather looked a bit as I had feared when seeing the weather forecast: it was a grey and rainy day, sometimes with showers and low clouds. Not the best conditions for an airshow but obviously we went anyway and took one of the direct trains from Waterloo Station to Farnborough Main. The trains were awfully quiet, as was the free shuttle service to the airfield.
Once the shuttle bus arrived at its destination it was a lot more crowded than we expected 10 minutes earlier. Most people were queuing for tickets but since we already had those we could proceed to the entrance and security checkpoint straight away.
As soon as we were inside the airfield it started to rain. We were lucky as we were already seated at the café near the entrance for a cappuccino but others had to rush for shelter to keep their camera’s safe. This shower lasted about 45 minutes and after that we continued our walk over the venue and had a look at al static and flying aircraft.
DH Chipmunk Dassault Falcon 7X DC3
At first I was a bit disappointed with the weather as many showers followed but once the flying displays finally started I realised the advantage for the photographer: lots of vapour!
Eurofighter Typhoon with a LOT OF CONDENSATION… sweet!!
. F/A-18 Superhornet
. Airbus A380, a regular visitor to Farnborough and Le Bourget
. The only airframe big enough to fly just partially in cloud
. And some A380-pics on the ground
. Spitfire and Lancaster…. Just beautiful, I also saw these in Duxford two weeks earlier
. L39’s of the Breitling Jet Team
. Red Arrows!!!
. Korea Aerospace T-50B, resembles a F-16 with two jet intakes
. Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey
. One of the Breitling Wingwalkers, “I’ll get my raincoat”
. Breitling Wingwalkers, up in smoke
. KDC10, Omega Tankers, an ex- JAL aircraft
. The mighty Avro Vulcan
. The return trip:
London Heathrow to Amsterdam
Flight: BA 0442
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Sunday morning the weather looked a lot more friendly than Saturday’s weather. We seriously thought of going to Farnborough once again but decided that there would be no point in having a try as we had a flight leaving late in the afternoon.
In stead, we decided to spend the day in the British Museum, somehow I always like to visit the Egyptian collection at the Museum when I’m in London and my father still hadn’t visited it yet, so that’s what we did, followed by a very nice late lunch in one of many Chinese restaurants at Gerrard street. After that we picked up our bags and we headed for the tube and got on the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow.
As we already had mobile boarding passes again, we walked straight to Terminal 5 Fast-Track. Passport Control was a breeze, as was the strict and polite but very patient and friendly security checkpoint, (sorry Schiphol, take note..)
After security we went to the South Lounge, which was very full. And warm: at the window we found what appeared to be the last pair of empty seats and that corner obviously had a lot of sunshine today. So after a drink we decided to head for the North Lounge.
It was noticeably more quiet and felt more spacious and therefore confirmed my preference as on previous occasions I tended to like the north Lounge more.
View from the BA Galleries North Lounge
. This aircraft is ready for the 2012 Olympic games and only aiming for the best!
We had some drinks and a very nice pasta salad, checked some e-mail and read some newspapers. Then it was time to board so we went to our gate A24 (should have stayed in the South Lounge..)
Our flight wasn’t as full as the outbound and the doors were closed before we knew it. This afternoon runway 27L was in use for departures and that meant a rather long taxi to the holding point, as did other aircraft. Upon arriving we were number 4 in sequence but I had a window seat (Switched 3C for 3A, these were ‘regular’ 3+3 seats with blocked middle seats) so there were some photo-opportunities. If only we had this weather one day earlier!!
Very generous amount of legroom
We lined up the 27L and were airborne moments later, climbing out on runway heading for a while and then made the right turn to Clacton and thereafter the crossing over the North Sea.
. An (ex?) Japan Airlines A300
. A very tasty potato-salad with chicken
We reached the Dutch coastline slightly north of Castricum at an altitude of just 2000 feet and that view made clear why one can not exceed 1500 feet when flying one’s single engine aircraft VFR along the Dutch coastline, like I sometimes do on a Sunday afternoon. We made the right turn for runway 18R (the ‘Polderbaan’) and having only carry-on luggage we could go to the train straight away and be home with plenty of time to sort out all the 1100+ airshow-pictures!
About Club Europe:
Everybody will agree that flying Business Class on European routes can not be compared with -say- big 2-2-2 configured J-class seats on the A330’s and B777’s that can be found serving a 1-hour flight in South East Asia, but Club Europe is in my opinion a very comfortable way to travel within Europe and I personally like it a lot more than what the competition has to offer.
About Farnborough Airshow:
Of course, weather can spoil any airshow but there still was plenty to see, as always. Only thing I regret is that Boeing showed its 787 Dreamliner during trade days but not during public days, in fact they never do, not in 2010 and not in 2011 at Le Bourget. I’m sure that many future 787-passengers would love to see it up close.
About Terminal 5:
I like the modern looks of T5 and find it very easy to find my way around the terminal. I travelled from and through T5 a number of times in CE, just once in Euro Traveller and found out on that particular occasion that, once airline lounges become unavailable, terminal 5 can be a very crowded place indeed.
About the Galleries lounges:
I find both Galleries Lounges very comfortable getaways within T5. They are probably equally crowded but to me somehow the North Lounge feels more spacious and more quiet.
63bobster From Netherlands, joined Jan 2012, 43 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 8186 times:
Quoting falkerker (Reply 1):
Awesome TR!! Hope I could have been at FIA this year!! Thanks for the pictures and for your input on CE. I do agree it's the best intra-european Business class available!
Thank you for your reply: If you have the opportunity Farnborough International Airshow is always worth a visit if you're an aviation enthusiast, especially if you are a pilot yourself. Never a shortage of new designs and plenty of opportunities to discuss with manufacturers and testpilots.
I do agree on CE, one of few intra European business class that actually feels like in a separate cabin in stead of just a curtain. This was my 1st trip of 4 UK-trips since mid-april that I didn't actually have to fly myself (like the Flying Legends airshow in Duxford 2 weeks earlier) and it was really nice to travel in CE again.
Thanks, I realise that the Trip Reports forum might not be the most suitable forum to post pictures like these but on the other hand it might be a nice idea to post some different pics once in a while anyway..