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LHR-FRA On BA A380 + VS Little Red  
User currently offlineCaptainDoony From UK - Scotland, joined Oct 2011, 68 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 1 week 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 8119 times:

Hello and welcome to my second trip report covering my latest jaunt on BA's brand-spanking new Airbus A380. Hope you enjoy the report!

It had long been rumoured that British Airways would be deploying its Airbus A380 on short haul training flights. BA received the first of 12 on order in May and carried out crew training at Manston. There was still no official announcement from BA but it seemed that Frankfurt was the place to be and finally on 1st of August - to a total lack of fanfare - the first revenue flight was completed.

I started closely following the rumours on here and somewhere else and it seemed like the 19th/20th seemed like a good bet and so I parted with 4500 Avios + £85 for the FRA-LHR legs. That left the small matter of getting to LHR from my home town of Aberdeen. BA had zero availability until September which is ridiculous considering the number of departures
each day and they were wanting >£400 for the flights that would have best suited my schedule. I eventually went with the VS flights for 7500 miles + £34 with poor timings creating long layovers which I could have done without (not such a bad thing as it turned out) but hey, beggars can't be choosers they say.

Two weeks went by agonisingly slowly as the anticipation of finally logging the world's largest passenger airliner built up. There was much relief when about a week before the aircraft type changed to 'Airbus A380 Jet'. Let's roll!

Virgin Atlantic Little Red - VS 3026
Aberdeen - London Heathrow
Airbus A320-214
EI-DEO
19/08/2013
06:35-07:45
Seat 3F --> 8F
Load - 35%

The 19th of August finally came round and at the ungodly hour of 04:45 I was stunned awake by 'Old Car Horn' blaring in my ears. The realisation that this was it gave me the power to get up and have a shower and by 05:20 I was in the car heading out to ABZ. I arrived around 05:35 in plenty of time for the 06:35 departure. I was possibly going to be getting several hundred cigarettes for someone at work (didn't in the end) so I had my little suitcase which I decided to hold check. Gave me a good excuse to collect my souvenir boarding pass from the desk.

ABZ security was as quick as ever and after the seemingly mandatory molestation for me I was at the Globe having some toast. Boarding was called around 06:15 and I made my way out onto the aircraft - I always enjoy walking across the tarmac when the weather's good.

There was already a grumpy businessman in 3D and he threw his newspaper down and grumbled under his breath when I told him he would have to shift to let me in. The flight filled up to my highest load count on LR so far - a massive 60 passengers and we pushed back 5 minutes early.
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Excellent flying conditions and a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet were announced. The crew began the breakfast service which I actually prefer to BA's offering probably because I like bland food. I did notice however they have changed from Ciabatta Bread to mini baguettes which has certainly made them a lot more tasty and I devoured the whole roll. (No pics unfortunately). I also took my now customary bottle of Irn Bru to wash it down.
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Tight Legroom
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The flight progressed pretty slowly to be honest, I just wanted my A380! I moved away from my pile of misery neighbour when I went to the toilet and sat down at 8F. Interestingly I found legroom to be quite a bit tighter at 8F than I did at 3F.
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Minimal holding and we were overflying London pretty soon and made a smooth touchdown on 27L.

A fairly long taxi to T1 ensued and we finally pulled onto stand at around 08:00. I made my way to baggage reclaim (my own private baggage belt as it turned out). I decided to head down to Myrtle Avenue for a few hours.

After getting there I spontaneously purchased lounge access to the Servisair Lounge at T1 for tomorrow. Almost immediately after that I received a message from a mate who was flying up to ABZ later on and asked me if I would care to join him in the lounge at T5. Of course this was gladly accepted and my long layover got quite a bit more interesting.

The 3 hours whizzed by and soon I was back on the tube heading to T5. After checking my bag and collecting a crumpled boarding pass thanks to a paper jam, I met up with my mate and we headed through the "fast track" security and onto the lounge after that. I had never been in a lounge of any description before so this was a totally alien experience to me. We found some decent seats overlooking 27R and headed off to get some food.

The lounge was quite busy but despite this it felt very peaceful and it was easy to forget there is a heaving shopping centre a couple of floors below. Drinks selection was excellent although I felt there could have been some more food options. Some of the items on offer seemed very similar to one another. I eventually settled for some tuna sandwiches and relaxed and chatted.
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Lounge Buddy's Photo from his A321
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British Airways - BA 910
London Heathrow - Frankfurt
Airbus A380-841
G-XLEA
19/08/2013
15:15-17:20
Seat 28K
Load - 40% (Y Lower Deck)

After a good 2 1/2 hours in the Galleries South, board now flashed up on the FIDS so after bidding adieu to my mate, it was time to head on the transit to gate C62. The C gates always feel quiet and underutilised. I made it to the gate with most pax on board already. A friendly welcome from the crew who made it very clear it was a brand new A380. I must admit that window alignment is a major thing for me when flying so after much studying (!) of BA 319-131 and Visual Approach's reports I settled on Seat 28K and thankfully it was perfect aligned. Another sigh of relief.
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Massive Wing
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I was immediately taken aback by how spacious the whole cabin felt. I am 6'4" and even when standing up straight my head was nowhere near touching the overhead PSU. The windows are interesting with a huge pane of glass on the inside and A320 sized outer panes. The height of the windows is far better than can be found on other Airbuses I feel.

The new World Traveller seat is a very good economy class product. I've managed about 5 hours straight of sleep coming back from NY last year. The seat is well padded and provides good support. Knee-room was also fine despite my height. There was one large disadvantage at my feet and that is the presence of a huge IFE box that eats up 40% of your under seat space. This is a really poor show in 2013 and unlike on the 777, you can't stretch your leg down the side of the seat so if you are planning on going to LAX/HKG on one of these in Y, an aisle seat is a must I feel.
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Ridiculous IFE Box
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Lounge Buddy on G-EUXI bound for ABZ
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There was a delay whilst waiting for some no-shows bags to be offloaded which took a while and doors were closed and we pushed back from stand around 30 minutes late. I recognised the captains voice from the first LHR-FRA service (Tim Cook I think). He announced OK flying conditions with cruise at FL330 and only 65 minutes flying - not enough!
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Taxi out was slow and although I've seen the A380 externally numerous times, I was simply mesmerised by how bloody large the thing is. The wings are a lot bigger than they look in any photo and the spaciousness of the cabin made the A320 feel like a coffin.

Now I thought I would hate a quiet aircraft but I found it to be quite refreshing and different. The take off roll was eerily quiet but very powerful which felt strange and a steep climb out followed. There was some fun turbulence which the A380 handled very well although at times it felt like going over a blind summit in a car very quickly - being held on by the seatbelt.
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The seatbelt signs were extinguished 10 or so minutes after departure and the crew began their service. As usual I took coke and the delicious Lily O'Brien cookies from the snack basket. There was quite a lot of photos being taken and J class pax were being taken for a look round the upper deck (I think).
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Some menacing looking clouds
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The captain all too soon announced our descent into Frankfurt with some thunderstorms expected on the approach. There was some but again the A380 didn't break sweat dealing with the turbulence.
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The final approach was smooth as was the landing which is often not the case for the A380. A long-ish taxi followed to the stand and we pulled onto stand at around 17:35 local. I was in no rush to get out (which was a mistake) and snapped a couple more pictures on my way out.
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As I just hinted there was a massive line for immigration which took about 20 minutes to clear and I collected my checked bag. I was booked into the Hilton at the Squaire which was bit of a hike via the Skytrain. There was a protest going on in T1 with local residents unhappy about expansion plans or opening hours I think. It was a bit chaotic and I'm not sure how LH were coping because it was taking up a large portion of their check in area. After about 25 minutes of walking I finally arrived, checked in, declined the generous €30 breakfast offer and went to have a shower. I won't bother talking about the hotel too much but it was pretty good giving me a good night's sleep despite not being a good hotel sleeper.

British Airways - BA 903
Frankfurt - London Heathrow
Airbus A380-841
G-XLEA
20.06.2013
11:30 - 11:50
Seat 24A
Load 90% Y Lower Deck

After a pretty decent night's sleep, my alarm rung at 08:15 and I started to get ready for the day and head round to Terminal 2. I made it via bus this time which was much faster and at around 09:45 I was airside heading to gate D4. I unsuccessfully searched for the cancer sticks before giving up and heading for security.

It was a security at the gate setup and it took a little while with busy AA/AB/BA flights all departing around the same time. 10 minutes later and no beep I was free to confirm there was a whale at D4. Check.
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Looking around the holding pen it was clear that several other people were on this flight for the same reasons as myself with quite a lot of photos being taken of the bird. Boarding was a bit of a scrum and I think they should have called boarding by seat row numbers as it was going to be a busy flight.

I was eventually able to board around 20 minutes before STD and made my seat towards 24A. Little further forward than yesterday with a good window although any views were significantly obstructed by the vast expanse of wing outside. Massive IFE box once again spoiled what I feel is a pretty decent product. IFE was in the off position as it is with all LHR-FRA rotations. (apparently so BA don't have to pay copyright for the films as they pay per flight)
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Boarding took a while so I just took some pictures and looked outside at the runways. Interestingly the safety demo was carried out manually unlike the outbound where the video was shown. At around 0930 we were pushing back and made a long taxi out to Runway 18.
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Take off was once again very quiet but very powerful and in no time we were airborne and making the long right turn to head for London.

The crew began service and I opted for coke, water and the delicious cookies. It was a nice relaxing atmosphere on board. The mood lighting was on and the views outside were good, as you would expect at 43,000 feet. The flight deck didn't actually announce this and I only discovered this after seeing a thread here on a.net retrospectively.
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'IFE' For the Flight
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The flight once again progressed all too quickly and before long we were in the Lambourne stack for around 10 minutes. We made the approach over London and made a smooth but A380-ish touchdown on 27L. Taxi in was slow and we eventually pulled in at the C gates at 12pm - nearly on schedule.
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Onto the transit and onwards to customs and by using the automated e-passport gates this only took a couple of minutes. I decided to head down to Myrtle Avenue again until 3pm when the runways switch. I could have gone into London but having been there several times before didn't bother as I wouldn't have had a great deal of time once there. After that I decided to make a pit stop at T3 to have a little nosey.
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I dropped my bag off and collected my Boarding Pass. Security was painless and again no beep. The Servisair Lounge was nothing special but it did its job of passing by nearly 3 hours quite well. I was disappointed by the lack of sockets to charge my phone though which is something I would have expected in even the most basic of lounges.

At around 7 I decided to head round to the UK and Ireland gates. If you are travelling on UK domestics from T1, I would strongly recommend heading to the large windows beside Costa and Gate 8. They provide excellent views out over 27R and managed to spot the BA 787 and A380 touching down.
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G-STBE flew me JFK-LHR 14 months ago to the day.
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Virgin Atlantic Little Red - VS 3025
London Heathrow - Aberdeen
Airbus A320-214
EI-DEO
20.08.2013
20:20 - 21:30
Seat 19A
Load - 30%

Boarding for my final flight was called at 19:45 and after watching the Uzbekistan 752 land headed to the gate area and boarded immediately. Everyone was onboard quickly and doors were shut by 8. The aircraft filled up to a load of about 50 pax and we made our way out to 27L bang on time at 20:15. No waiting and we made a powerful take off to head north.
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Love the Mood Lighting
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Not much to report about this flight. Got my Irn Bru and Plane Crisps and with nobody behind me just reclined back and relaxed. The crew were pretty good on this flight with one of them making sure that everyone was fed and watered. Quite a few people (myself included) got seconds from the cart. Pretty good because on other empty flights I've taken the crew often find it easy to have a social in the galley so top marks to VS on that one.
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Contrails of a BY 738 heading to EDI
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The flight was smooth and before long we were on finals into ABZ 16 and made a nice smooth touchdown at 2125 - 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Baggage was delivered at 2140 and into the car and home.
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It was an excellent trip and was glad that everything went well. The A380 really is an amazing aircraft and it's just a bloody shame that BA have to dump technology from 2001 in my feet space. But apart from that I reckon I could easily survive a 10 hour haul to LAX in an aisle seat. Bit of a shame BA haven't done much to promote their A380 in the grand scheme of things - just a few adverts. They claimed they wanted to surprise Joe Public getting on the A380 instead of A320 but looking at my seat mates they couldn't have looked less interested if they tried.

Thanks for reading, hope you have enjoyed. All comments and/or criticisms are welcome.

Cheers

6 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1092 posts, RR: 31
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6396 times:

Hello.

Found the report witty and enjoyable, cheers! Not nearly enough photos of food! Even if it is the most dull picture of a cookie packet... I know, beats me!?

Quoting CaptainDoony (Thread starter):
That left the small matter of getting to LHR from my home town of Aberdeen. BA had zero availability until September which is ridiculous considering the number of departures
each day and they were wanting >£400 for the flights that would have best suited my schedule.

Bloody hell! Demand must be great with other competitors out the way and connections at LHR

Quoting CaptainDoony (Thread starter):
Load - 35%

And this compared to BA!? But you have noted a rise in loads on VS no? I am really keen that they keep their domestic services. It was an audacious move and they deserve to be rewarded for it.

Quoting CaptainDoony (Thread starter):
Load 90% Y Lower Deck

Yes, wonder what % were of the spotting variety.

Quoting CaptainDoony (Thread starter):
it's just a bloody shame that BA have to dump technology from 2001 in my feet space.

haha, but yes, quite right. Must have been quite a cost saving for them. At least seats are roomy and comfortable.

Luke



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineCaptainDoony From UK - Scotland, joined Oct 2011, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 6287 times:

Hi Luke,

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 1):
Not nearly enough photos of food!

I know! I promise I'll try and get some in my next TR whenever that may be!

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The BA flight departing next to us was an A321 and looked to be extremely full. That said the VS loads on ABZ have improved considerably and averaged about 90 per flight in July. MAN seems to be the same and EDI is storming ahead.

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And yes there was quite a few spotters! Going out it seemed the whole J cabin were spotters being led for their wee tour.

---
Btw I am a great admirer of your reports. Very professionally done, very entertaining. Read your latest addition just after posting this and felt a little bit embarrassed I must admit. Glad you enjoyed this though

Cheers


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1092 posts, RR: 31
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 6156 times:

Quoting CaptainDoony (Reply 2):
The BA flight departing next to us was an A321 and looked to be extremely full. That said the VS loads on ABZ have improved considerably and averaged about 90 per flight in July. MAN seems to be the same and EDI is storming ahead.

Oh well, who knows, it is a good time in as much as a major loss of competitors on their routes. But I think that the long-haul operations need to be very healthy (which they appear not to be) to keep this running smoothly. I'm a shit though, my options were LR/VS EDI-LHR £37 or Megabus £1.50 ; clearly I am not dedicated enough!

Quoting CaptainDoony (Reply 2):
Btw I am a great admirer of your reports. Very professionally done, very entertaining. Read your latest addition just after posting this and felt a little bit embarrassed I must admit. Glad you enjoyed this though

Haha. I think it is I who must be embarrassed for spending far too much time of this website! It can be quite addictive really, and the reports sort of become a quest for self-improvement.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 week 2 days ago) and read 5306 times:

Hey

Interesting little report about VS and BA
I had EI-DEO on my LHR-MAN flight in April and had seat 3F. Too bad loads aren't doing good.
Impressive pics of the 380 as well, however seat pitch looks a bit tight IMO.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineThomasCook From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 796 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5064 times:

Hey!

Great report! I have to say that I feel BA have missed a golden opportunity to showcase the A380 before it's entry into longhaul ops. I really don't get their overcautiousness. Having the IFE switched off is really p*ss poor; why wouldn't you want to show off the system. I went on LOTs inaugural 787 service in December and even for this short sector, full content was available.

From what I have seen, their cabins seem to be a total let down too; dull, drab and boring. No revolutionary hard product improvements. The IFE box just tops this off.

Thanks
ThomasCook



A380 Crew
User currently offlineCaptainDoony From UK - Scotland, joined Oct 2011, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5025 times:

Hi,

I agree about the IFE. Even if the movies were unavailable, the moving map and features such as the chat rooms would have been better than nothing. Have also read elsewhere that the cameras will be unavailable via the IFE which is another big disappointment.

To be honest I quite like their new cabins, especially on the 777 where there is (much) more room at the windows. Legroom was bearable I felt although the seat infront was bolt upright on both sectors so not sure how that would affect space.

Crew were more than happy to show off the aircraft onboard but it is totally disappointing the short haul flights have been conducted in stealth mode.

Cheers


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