Back in November the first of many trips in the next few weeks took me to Nigeria.
I will not cover the first part (other than to summarize) as the main part is the BA from LHR-LOS and return, travel and service on CO has been well documented here and was as described, very pleasant, efficient and no problems.
November 11, 2004
CO 540 On-Time
36min flight time (would be faster if landing to the East at IAH, which is rare)
CO 34 On time departure (little late getting in due to lack of tailwinds
8:11 flight time
After arriving at Gatwick, I was met by a colleague at the CO arrivals lounge and we proceeded up to LHR for the BA flight. The traffic was as normal for a Monday morning in London and despite some quick detours we finally arrived at Terminal 4 about 1030a (2hrs LGW-LHR including parking, not too bad I guess).
He went off to the staff desk to check-in (being on a staff pass), and I went over to regular check-in.
BA has placed the LOS at the far end of the terminal, with 4 check-in desks for economy, and as I have found if you are not First or Business on BA you are pretty much nothing. I did however have a World Traveler Plus ticket, which in this case also means nothing. I had hoped that in terminal 4 it would be better than the others at LHR, but it pretty much the same overcrowded mess.
The line way about 75 people long, and moving very slowly (many get out of line to weigh/pay for excess baggage). There was nobody out there to tell what was going on, and the 2 lines were mixed up, with some confusion over where you should be standing.
In any case, the line finally moved along and my check-in took about 1 min (one small bag) and it was off to security at about 1115 (for the 1220 departure). Security line was long, moved at a good pace (even with the full body scanner, which I didn't get), and I was at gate 11 by 1130a.
The gate area (as with most of Terminal 4) was a chaos of people standing around and no clear direction as to what was happening. Finally, at about 1200n, boarding was started (so much for on-time departure) and after a half-hearted attempt to board First and Business ahead of everyone else, the general boarding started. There were 2 lines and doors being used, but no sense as to who goes where, I just got into the line (or the crowd really) and worked my way into the plane).
Passing through business I found my way to 31A (last row in WT+) . I had not seen my colleague or one of several others on this trip with me and thought they might not have got on due to the full load , and since they were on staff passes may have got into J or ever F.
Eventually at 1305 they close the door and we are on our way.
Flight: BA 075
Load: Full in J/W/Y (No idea of what was in J).
Estimated Departure Time: 12:20
Actual Departure Time: 13:07.
Estimated Arrival Time: 19:45
Actual Arrival Time: 20:15
Flight time: 5:35
After a slow push and taxi over to 27L (past Concorde –just uploaded picture to myavaition.net) finally off at 13:34 after a very long (10,000 or so) takeoff run. Climb out was sooth through the clouds and rain after a hard left turn shortly after takeoff and break out on top at 8,000ft at 13:39.
I must say the WT+ seats are just fine for this kind of trip, although the foot rest is pretty useless as anyone over 5ft tall will hit their feet on the seat in front with it up. However, pitch, recline and comfort are well worth the extra cost.
Service was started shortly and while I have no idea what was served, it was strictly a Y meal, nothing else. In addition, after the service was completed in our section, the crew goes on to service the rest of the Y cabin, and there is no individual service provided. I would say from a comfort standpoint the seat is comfortable, but the service is minimal (normal BA Y standards).
Routing was over SPAIN near Granada, just west of Algiers, direct to Niamey then pretty much direct to LOS at 330 to coast of Africa, then 350 and back down to 330 over Nigeria.
Decent was started at 19: 40 and was very slow with lots of turns and one large circle of the airport for landing on 17L at 20:09.
Arrival was at gate 63 at 2015, where everyone I was traveling with met me in the terminal (they were up front and got on the last second).
After 3 days in LOS at the airport and downtown it was time to catch the return flight to LHR at the very convenient time of 23:45.
We had tried to check-in at the Sheraton Hotel, but as I had a bag to check, this was not possible (how does anyone carry anything on aboard BA with their restricted carry on rules for all but the big spenders!!). In any case, they said to be at the airport by 19:00 (for at 23:45 departure), now I travel all over the world and I realize this is a very busy location and will take time, but doubt that 5 hrs ahead is reasonable, when the locals day 20:30 should be fine. So, off the airport we go (at 20:00 by the way), through the incredible gridlock that is Lagos traffic and arrive at about 20:30. There is no line and after a few early check I get to the check-in counter with my bag and am told that since I have an E-TICKET paid for by a credit-card I will need to go to the ticket office (upstairs) to get it approved. Funny, I came down on this ticket, why is there an issue with it here??? Hey, BA, let’s do something about this, either don’t give people e-tickets (don’t think you usually pay in cash right), or at least warn them of this. This was a problem for me as I had my suitcase to carry up 2 flights of stairs,( which for me was not easy), up to the ticket desk for approval. Lucky my colleague (the same one on the staff-pass) was there sorting out a problem on his ticket and was able to get this done quickly despite the fact that I don’t carry the credit card the ticket was issued on (is a corporate card used for ticketing only).
Now back to check-in and after about another 30min I am finally ready to clear immigration/customs/security and go to the gate, which is all done very easily and quickly.
Now, we are ready to go and it is 21:15, what to do for 2 hrs . My colleague on the BA staff pass will probably be in J, but they will not let us into the BA lounge, but another of our party is going on KL and we went over there and with his invitation were able to use the KL business lounge.
Finally, off to the gate and a huge line to get into the gate area at 2230, long line moving slowly.
Next, I get a text page from another of our group that left the night before with just the message “GOING TO ACC?” Assuming this is another location I will need to go to I said, as a joke..heck no. Oh, but wait, BA is not done yet. About 30seconds later, someone comes along and hands us a paper that says that due to a fuel shortage in Nigeria, we will be making a stop in ACC (ACCRA, GHANA) for fuel.
Now, as one who is always up for a new location this is OK, but at midnight in Nigeria, I’m not happy as it will make the flight about 2 1/2hrs late into LHR, fortunately, I am booked from LGW on the 1200n flight to IAH so should not be a problem. Now, what makes this interesting, is that everyone else that went on VS, KL, LH etc. did not have a problem, seems it was only a BA problem. Now I have been in/around the airline business for about 35 years, and understand this kind of thing happens for whatever reason, but see why passengers get mad when they find out they are not told the whole truth. Enough ranting, on to the trip.
Flight: BA 074
Load: Full in W/Y , a few open in J
Estimated Departure Time: 23:45
Actual Departure Time: 23:48
Estimated Arrival Time: 23:40 (LOCAL)
Actual Arrival Time: 23:42
Flight time: 39 min
Departure was on time and the taxi to 17L slow, but were finally off at 00:03 into the steamy night.
I noticed that this aircraft, being quite a bit older that the one on the inbound trip was a little tired and worn looking, not dirty, but there was a lot of wear on everything and lots of broken equipment (seat tray, foot rest, armrest etc.).
There was no service (and not really expected on the way to ACC, where we landed (really hard!!) at 23:42 local time.
Arrival in ACC was interesting in that due to the problems in neighboring Ivory Coast there were quite a few relief aircraft on the ground there, several USAF C-17s, C-130 (arrived while parked) RAF L10 and VC-10, French and German A-310s. I addition, there was a 737-200 came in of TAAG ,
I have a picture (such as it is) at:
assume it was a diversion from ABJ on the flight from SAL. Also, on taxi out were Monarch and MEA A330s and a DHL 727.
The turn there was quick and we were on our way after waiting for the fuel and the brakes to cool down., , and naturally did not get to see anything there (looks like a nice small airport nothing like LOS).
Flight: BA 074
Load: Full in W/Y , a few open in J
Estimated Departure Time: 00:45 (my guess)
Actual Departure Time: 00:48
Estimated Arrival Time: 0700 (LOCAL)
Actual Arrival Time: 0730
Flight time: 6:00
Hang in there, almost done.
The departure from ACC was quick with a nice view of the city after while tuning back from the sea before going north after takeoff on runway 21. We went around some thunderstorms on climb out and at 370 in initial cruise,
The meal was served (local African chicken, very good and spicy), and then the crew disappeared, pretty much for the rest of the night, a small breakfast was service just before arrival.
The fight was uneventful, but had a hard time sleeping and just watched the movie (the BA system is pretty good, several movies, games etc.), and read.
At 0450 we were over ALG (great view) and then direct to PMI where we diverted east to avoid many thunderstorms over Spain and climbed to 380 to get over them. At last we started down at 0625 over Paris and came in directly without hold (surprise) for good landing in very foggy overcast conditions (200ft ovc vis ¼ or so). at 0656.
One final thing, as usual, no gate was available, I suppose since we were so late, it took until 0730 until we got to dock at gate 8.
All in all, standard BA hassles for me, next trip will be on VS or KL I think.
Return to Houston was fine on CO in BF.
CO 005 (15 min atc delay, arrival about 30min late due headwinds)
10:13 flight time
Thanks for hanging in there, all in all very interesting trip for me. Comments appreciated.