Our driver dropped us off at airport 1hr ½ before our scheduled departure time. Went directly to the Navigator Class check-in area located on the first level and found a queue with 3 people. We checked our luggage in for Johannesburg and I was assigned to seat 2B while my parents had 2E and 2F. The courteous lady at the check-in counter informed us our flight had suffered a 1h10min delay. No explanation was given at this time. Oh well… Anyway, we were invited to use the Navigator Lounge.
At this time of the day the lounge was crowded and it was difficult to find three seats together, however an old lady offered to move herself to another seat, which allowed us to have two sofas for ourselves. The lounge was very small, and offered a very small range of beverages, only cookies and peanuts. However the lounge has a new area with two Slumberettes. I settled down and got an orange juice and some cookies.
With still 1hr ½ to spare before boarding I decided to check my e-mails and if possible chat with some friends. When I attempted to use the computers (there were 2 of them) I discovered that both were inoperative. My plans were ruined…
At 15:15 we were called for boarding. Passed through security and reached gate 19 (no jetway at this gate). An exclusive bus for Navigator Passengers was waiting.
While on the bus, got see a LH airbus A321, some Portugália Embraer jets and some other TAP airplanes.
Finally boarded our Airbus A310 through the front and was greeted by two crewmembers. Neither of them showed us to our seats nor helped my father to place the luggage onto the overhead compartment. Instead, they happily chatted and looked very surprised when my father gave them an oppressive look. You don’t expect this kind of service in Business class. It really depends on the crew, as they determine the level of service you receive.
Business Class on the Airbus A310 offers a 46” seat pitch. Not very spacious if you are flying on a long haul flight. There were no PTVs and the seat required manual attention in order to recline it. There aren’t even headrests. Though I suppose it was all right for just a medium-haul flight. Newspapers, magazines and headphones were distributed. Shortly after, the crew came with the Pre-takeoff beverages. I chose an OJ.
At 16:00 pushback sequence started, and the on board security video was shown. By this time I was seated in 2B, and wanted to have a change to 2A. Asked a nice lady whether she could swap me to 2A and my request was approved. Our plane taxied to runway 3L and made a very noisy and steep takeoff.
About 20 minutes the seatbelts signs went off, I began feeling like I was having a migraine. I remembered the last time I had a migraine was on an SQ flight to Melbourne. Thus, I asked my mother for my migraine pills. I immediately took a pill, and slowly into the flight the migraine symptoms diminished. It was a relief to know that my connection flight to Johannesburg wouldn’t be ruined this time. I decided to take a nap and declined the hot towels and the snack. Reclined my seat and shut the shades and quickly fell asleep. Woke up 40 minutes later and saw Mr. Bean cartoon series (?). Quite funny I must say.
Decided to read the last pages of my book and asked a stewardess (TAP stewardesses are disappointing, especially if you are connecting from an Asian airline ) for some water. Service on this flight was pretty average, however you could notice that TAP crewmembers putting little efforts to be more courteous and polite.
We finally started our decent and touched down on runway 27L.
We disembarked the airbus at 18:25, one hour and ten minutes late… Our flight to Johannesburg was scheduled to depart at 20:45 (BA57). Fortunately we had already checked-in our luggage for Johannesburg at Lisbon which required no further checking-in to be done by us.
Caught the bus to T4 from T2 and went through Fast Track to FIRST lounge. On my way to the lounge, I bought a book to read for my flight to JNB. When we arrived at the lounge we were offered to dine before boarding, nonetheless we preferred to have our meals onboard. I ate some nice and fresh ham and cheese sandwiches though.
After a relaxing hour in BA FIRST, we went to the gate where the aircraft which would fly us to Johannesburg was waiting As it was already dark I could not see the registration number.
We walked through the Jetway and boarded the aircraft. Two smiling stewardesses were waiting and greeted us. One of them led us to our seats. She then took our coats. A bottle of water and glass of champagne were awaiting us, though as a minor I was not allowed to drink alcohol, and thus I chose a simple orange juice.
British Airways First Class seat offers great support, and while on full flat position it can be quite comfortable and soft, allowing you to have a restful night.
Headphones and amenity kits were offered, as well as a wide range of newspapers and magazines. I chose the Business Day as well as the TIME magazine. Menus with dining options were handled. As you might imagine, the menu was quite vast and you could eat whatever you wanted to. The menu comprised of a choice of appetisers, four main dishes, lighter dishes, desserts, cheese, etc. For tonight’s dinner, I chose to skip all the appetisers (ate two many sandwiches at the lounge) and chose to do with a lighter Pasta with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.
At this time, the captain announced that we would depart late due to ATC. Heathrow Airport…
Pushback commenced at 21:05 and security video on board was shown. For this particular flight there were only four other passengers flying in First. That meant a total of seven passengers out of the possible fourteen were flying.
While we were taxing towards the runway a nice stewardess with a very British accent took my request for dinner. She was surprised that a young 15 year-old teenager would only want pasta; I told her I had eaten too many sandwiches at the lounge. I informed her I would like to seat in my father’s seat ottoman, which she replied with a cold smile.
At this stage, cabin lights were dimmed creating a nice atmosphere in the cabin. We finally reached runway 27L. All four Rolls Royce engines spooled up and we roared down the runway, making a very powerful take off and taking us up to the crowded London skies.
After a nice climb, the seatbelt sign was turned off and another stewardess came to our seats to enquire what we would like to drink before dinner was to be served; this time I chose a Coke. The stewardess came back my choice, and immediately after, the other stewardess came with the linens. As I had requested, she set up the table at my father’s seat (4E). I sat at the ottoman and amused myself reading the card with all the seat controls explanations.
The fresh looking pasta finally came and it tasted very good. During the dinner I spoke with my father about our trip plans in South Africa and Mozambique. Needless to say the crew kept refilling my glass with water.
After dinner, I went back to my seat and decided to start reading the book I had bought at Duty free. However, after reading the first few pages, I began to feel sleepy. Thus, I informed the crew of my intention, and was promptly given a pyjama. I went to the toilet and changed into the comfortable pyjama. When I came back to my seat a stewardess had already prepared a comfortable bed giving me two oversized pillows. I made myself comfortable and turned my PTV on. As nothing interested me I changed to the Airshow channel. We were flying over the Mediterranean.
At that time, almost all passengers were preparing to sleep, including my parents.
Slept soundly for almost 5 hours and woke up with still 3 hours to go. I woke up in the first hour of light. After coming to notice that I was awake, a gorgeous British-accented stewardess immediately gave me a glass of water.
I decided to get dressed. On my way to the toilet I asked another stewardess the registration number of the aircraft. She told me we were flying on G-BNLW. Got dressed and asked a stewardess whether I could try the new Club World seat. She asked me if I could wait till most of the passengers were awaken.
After a long period of time without eating anything I was starving and so decided to order my breakfast. By looking at the menu I decided to have a an Energizer drink of tropical fruit accompanied with a classic British breakfast with scrambled eggs, Bacon, Mushroom and sausage. The breakfast itself was good, though the Mushrooms tasted terribly dry.
With approximately only two hours before landing in Johannesburg, the stewardess came to my seat and informed me that I could now try the new Club World seat. The eight abreast seating (on the main deck) created a very cramped environment, especially when the cabin was almost full. I tried the new seat and the possibility of being seated facing the rear of the airplane didn’t please me much. The seat also could be wider, though they would have to take seats away.
Back to my First Class seat I started to read my book. I continued reading until we began our bumpy descent towards Jan Smuts International Airport. Seatbelt signs were turned on and the crew made the final announcements before touch down.
Landing was a very smooth one, though we had to make a very long taxi until we finally docked. We were instantly given our coats and as well as our hand luggage. I chatted with the crew before they opened the door. We bid them goodbye and went to the luggage claim area. Fortunately our luggage was already there waiting for us.
Overall British Airways provided a good and efficient service, though not as good as the service offered by the beautiful S’pore Girls.
I would still recommend BA FIRST on long haul flights, as it can be a pleasant and comfortable way to start your holidays.
Please stay tuned as I will soon write my JNB-LHR-LIS, and maybe my regional flights within SA.