Having "trolled" the net for the best airfares, I settled on BA transatlantic (amazing ?166 roundtrip LHR-JFK purchased at Opodo) and BD domestic (?56.00 thru their web-site) so, for a grand total of ?222 EDI-JFK roundtrip, including all taxes and fees.
On the day of departure, we drove the car over to EDI (20mins). We chose off-airport parking as it was tons cheaper, plus they provided a mini-bus to the terminal.
Having only carry-on baggage, check-in was a breeze.
Thursday, February 12, 2003
British Midland FLT 057
Seats 25 A/B
Departure 1240 Arrival 1400
Boarding, from what I remember, was more or less on time. I like BD's interiors. They are quite bright and calming and love their leather seats. After taxi and take-off, the flight crew announced that flying time to LHR would be 45 minutes (I guess that/s why they schedule 1hr20min). After touch-down at LHR it seemed we taxied for ever until we came to our parking bay. After deplaning in T1, we went thru the transfer gate for the bus to T4. I like taking that bus as you are airside for a little while, plus when you come out of the tunnel at the other end you get a real sense of how huge LHR is.
The main reason we took such an early flight from EDI was to try and get on the earlier BA113 departing at 1730. No way, Jose! Absolutely sold-out we were informed. Ah well, you can't win'em all! Anyway, we did some duty-free shopping and walked around a bit waiting for our flight.
Thursday, February 12, 2003
London-Heathrow-New York Kennedy
British Airways FLT 179
Departure 1830 Arrival 2115
The monitors showed BA179 would be boarding at gate 3. It was actually a bus-transfer to the aircraft. Nothing quite like it when your climbing those stairs and see how "gigantic" the 744 is!
Although they had told us the flight was full, the middle section of row 32 was empty. So me and my partner took it. Gave us a bit more room and you had somewhere to put your meal tray when finished. Departure was delayed due to loading of the aircraft (I guess BA are really squeezed at LHR as there seems there is not enough room at T4 to park all those huge birds).
Finally after about 30 mins, we were pushed back and on our way. Take-off was uneventful and flight crew advised us that flying time would be 7hrs50mins. I didn't bother with the entertainment just kept the airmap on all the time. For dinner, we both had "filet" steak. It was quite good, washed down with 1/2 bottle of cabernet-sauvignon. After dinner, I had a cognac and slept for 3 hours. (I read reports here that US carriers charge for liquor on international journeys). BA does not.
There was another meal service approx 11/2 hours prior to landing at JFK. Touchdown was smooth and the taxi to the BA terminal was really short. Not only that, we arrived 18 minutes early.
After clearing immigration was out of the terminal by 2130. My god it was cold. Must have waited for 20 minutes for a cab and it was freezing. I liked that flat rate of $35 to Manhattan. We stayed at the Empire Hotel, across the street from the Met (Quite a good deal we secured thru Expedia)Had a great time in New York. It was my partner's first trip and I hadn't been to NY for 10 years. Only thing was, there were predictions for this huge snow-storm to hit. And it surely did on February 16. Wham! 18 inches in Central Park! Luckily, Macy's were having a sale and I snapped up a pair of Timberlands for $49.99 (Could'nt believe it)!
We had some friends due to fly out on the Monday but no way! They did get out on Tuesday though. As we were scheduled to fly home on the Wednesday I was having nightmares just thinking of the hordes.
Anyhow, it was a fun trip even with all the snow! Finally, Wednesday arrived and we took the bus from Grand Central to Kennedy arriving at 1910. The check-in lines were massive so we just joined the end. Must have taken us a good 30 minutes before it was our go.
Wednesday, 18 February, 2003
New York Kennedy-London Heathrow
British Airways FLT 114
Departure 2100 Arrival 0905
Turns out we had been assigned seats in different rows, but the check-in agent said "Don't worry" and kept clicking away. Finally he picked up the phone and explained to someone the situation and he was asking them to open up row 29, which they did, and we got boarding passes for 29AB, World Traveler Plus. I couldn't believe our luck. Such a low fare and an upgrade to boot! God Bless BA!!!
Going thru security I beeped so had to get hand searched and shoes removed. No biggie! Then up the stairs to the departure area. I quite like BA's terminal at JFK..some operation they have there.
Got some more shopping as US Duty free is even cheaper than UK. They then announced boarding for the flight. As we handed over our boarding passes the gate-agent inserted them into the machine and there was this audible beep. She took the boarding cards and looked at her monitor, crossed out the seat numbers and changed our seats to 17D/E. Club Class! How exciting is that?
I was in 17D facing forward and my partner in 17E facing the rear. It's quite a nifty layout and quite well done. The seat is very comfortable and I think laying flat makes all the difference--just like a bed!
Pre-departure drinks were served, choice of Champagne, water or juice. Guess what we had? That's right.....champers.....what the hey! Menus were handed round and orders taken for after take-off drinks. We had the "filet" steak again..it was pretty good, served on real china with real glasses. Still had the plastic cutlery though. After dinner drinks were offered and I had a cognac again. Everything cleared away, lights dimmed (come to think of it, lights were dimmed the whole time) and pushed the button and hey presto, flat-bed! I slept for about 4 hours (flying time 6hrs29mins) As on the outbound, I didn't bother with the entertainment, just had the airmap on the whole time. At one point we had a 121mph tail-wind.
Arrival into LHR was 20 minutes early. After clearing passport control & customs, we decided to take the train to T1. Never again! Getting upstairs from the bowls of the earth is a nightmare! Finally above ground, checked-in for our onward flight.
Thursday, 19 February, 2003
British Midland FLT 056
Departure 1250 Arrival 1410
When we went through to the boarding area, they were boarding the earlier 1040 BD departure for EDI but is was full, so we had to hang around the departure area for a couple of hours. Couldn't see any active runways but you certainly heard them!
Boarding was more or less on time. I quite like the A321 and love the cabins and seats on BD. One day I'd like to try them long-haul. As for their domestic service it is 2nd to none. Flying time again was approx 45 minutes and we arrived on time. Deplaned and went out and called the off-airport carpark. Their mini-bus arrived 10 minutes later, picked up the car and was home at 1530hrs.
All in all a great trip. BD is a great airline and certainly gives value for money! BA I think is in a class of it's own. Very professional and has a great product in business class and economy. I have experienced BA's old Club class but this Club World is hard to beat!
Sorry this is a bit long and short of details...hope you enjoy!