Airport: LHR (T1)
Airline: British Airways (BA 285)
Depature: 10:50 (Actual)
Flight time: 10 and a half hours (Approx)
I'd booked this six months previously in September - my partner and I took advantage of the BA spring sale, I think it cost about £319 each. Absolute bargain! Since the flight left at 10:50 from LHR, we booked into a hotel (I can't recall the name, an airport shuttle took us there - on Bath Road?) the night before as she had flown in from Zurich, and I'd travelled down from York.
We arrived at T1 3 hours early as I'd looked up possible seats I wanted - we had been preassigned some middle seats which I really didn't want, as I like to see where I'm going! The check-in said it was a very full flight, and to see if the gate agent could arrange something. So after wandering around T1 we proceeded to gate 52 where the agent ripped up our original boarding passes and happily replaced them with 50A and 50B!
Before boarding, I took this photo (excuse the quality of the pics to follow - I just point and click, not a professional!).
The check-in lady was correct, the minute rows were called, EVERYBODY surged forward. I dislike this. Usually, I just ask the gate-agent to tell me when my row is being boarded as I don't hear the announcements. In this case, we joined the scrum, and found ourselves behind a husband and wife who had made some screw-up with their passport and had to leave the que. Not sure what happened, or if they made it on board.
Boarding seemed very quick (20 - 30 mins?) - people were still stowing their handbaggage as we were taxiing out to takeoff! Despite being told by the FA's to sit down. The group was a tour group who was very loud for the rest of the flight. Fun though. About an hour or so after take-off breakfast was served. I can't recall exactly, I always order the vegetarian meal - just a bread roll, some chocolate, coffee and orange juice.
Before take-off, I took this picture.
I asked if I could take photos on take-off, but the FA said only once we were in the air. Despite this, the guy in front decided to film the entire event! Very annoyed, as I had decided to obey the rules.
My GF was a bit scared before boarding, but soon calmed down and watched Bridget Jones. I took a photo of our route map but she deleted it saying it was boring! Anyway, we flew close to Iceland, over Greenland, and at that point the map stopped working. No apologies from the crew, and it didn't return for the rest of the flight. I presume we flew down over Canada-Wisconsin-Oregon (?)- SF.
Anyway, I took some photos in flight:
Somewhere over Greenland. I love the view.
Going into Canada (I think):
For seven hours or so the flight was dull, I caught up with some revision for my forthcoming philosophy exams, watched Bridget Jones 2 (again). The PTV's were a good size, but it seemed random whether or not they worked. I also had difficulty hearing with the headphones, so gave up, not wishing to deafen the rest of the cabin.
Somewhere over America:
Then there was some moderate turbulence. We had been forewarned, and I think we may have been flying some distance away from storms. I looked out the window to see black clouds at 35,000 feet. Meal service had to be stopped, and the gf and I had to hold onto the seats in front to stop us bouncing around. I thought it was funny, but the previously loud tour group had suddenly quietened down. Anyway, after about an hour of this, it was decided cold drinks would be served as the FA's didn't want to risk spilling hot drinks on them. Fair enough - I wouldn't want to be walking around the cabin during any bumps.
About an hour before landing, it had calmed down and I took these photos:
A few twists and turns later, we were lined up to land - knowing we would not see the runway until the last minute, I scared my gf by telling her we were going to land in the bay! She kept saying "can you see the runway now", me: "no" then bump, we landed, and people were applauding. I've only experienced this on international flights.
Oh I asked an FA for a safety card, but she said no as people kept stealing them! Well, duh, that's why I asked as I think it's wrong to just take one. I was a bit miffed by that response, as I asked politely.
Anyway, we spent a week in SF, and here are some (brief) details of the trip back:
Airport: SFO (T1)
Airline: BA (Flight NO 284)
Arrival: Too bloody early. I think it was about 8:30 at Heathrow the following morning.
On this flight, the gf and I had two seats to ourselves at the very back - I recommend this. O.k, you're not that close to the window, but it's better than sitting next to strangers for 11 hours. On this flight, I seen the Northern Lights for the 1st time! Everybody else had the shades down - I mean, you're not going to see something like this often so I don't understand how people can snooze through things. I did TRY and take a photo, but I had stupidly left the flash on the digital camera, meaning I woke up half the cabin when the flash went off! After that, I left it and contented myself to watch the green sky which lasted for about an hour and a half.
I took this photo of sunrise somewhere over the Atlantic:
The FA's did a bit of a vanishing act on this flight. We had a drink every 3 or four hours after the meal service, and breakfast as we were approaching Ireland. Landed on time - very happy, but sleepy.
Both flights were on-time and as comfortable as one could be for a long-haul flight. The entertainment would have been better if the system had been fully functional! I like to see the map. The crew were generally friendly, except for one who spoiled things a bit.
Anyhoo, we landed, and then had to go to Gatwick to get the connecting flight back to Zurich - my GF lives in Schaffhausen which is a small town about an hours drive away near the German border. We were both very tired, and the fire alarm went off at Gatwick meaning we were all evacuated. After that blip, we boarded another BA flight, etc etc. Total travelling time was about 20 hours. But worth it
I think if I go trans-atlantic again, I will go with Virgin. I have flown them three times to New York and once to LA, and enjoyed every flight. BA world traveller plus or club world is definitely worth it, but I get the impression economy passengers are a low-priority. But at the price I paid, I didn't really care as long as I got there safely, and I got to fly the 747-400 so I was happy
Barcode From Switzerland, joined Dec 2001, 678 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 6694 times:
Thanks The registration isn't something I generally take note of. And yes, I have to wonder why people would willingly live so far North. We passed over Iqiluit (sp?) which seemed a rather large town in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Apparently, about 33,000 tourists visit Greenland every year - might be nice in the summer very briefly.
SFO airport for us was a bit of a nightmare - I think a full Virgin Atlantic flight arrived around the same time as us, hence waiting about an hour and a half to get through immigration. The officer looked at me, and my gf and said "are you together or are you TOGETHER" - well, what does it matter, we're here to have fun, see the sights etc.
I did enjoy it though - unfortunately, with the laws becoming ever more stringent, my us dollars are being converted into euros or australian dollars. Perhaps in a few more years
Fbgdavidson From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 3774 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 6575 times:
Quoting Barcode (Reply 9): SFO airport for us was a bit of a nightmare - I think a full Virgin Atlantic flight arrived around the same time as us, hence waiting about an hour and a half to get through immigration
Wow. that's bad. I was on the 287 and was on the BART within about five mins of the door opening! No line at immigration and my bag was already on the carousel!
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
Hmm...not Wisconsin, that would be too far south for an LHR-SFO flight. But, Illiquit would be right on...it's on the Davis Strait between Canada and Greenland. I've flown between SFO and LHR several times on UA, so I can say that you flew over Northern Territories, Alberta, the SE corner of BC, central or eastern Washington and Oregon, and then into northern Cal. on the way into SFO.
Judging by that pic. just west of the Golden Gate bridge, I'd say you turned left (east) towards Oakland, then turned right (south) and flew down to about Fremont or Hayward, turned right again to cross the Bay and towards San Mateo, and then another right turn towards final approach to runway 28L or 28R.
Another possibility: after you took that shot, you continued south (straight) and then made a left turn over the Mountain View/Atherton/Portola Valley area (very expensive area) and then flew east for a few minutes, and then another left to begin final approach, once again to 28L or 28R.
Thanks for the report...that shot of Greenland was AMAZING!!!!
Barcode From Switzerland, joined Dec 2001, 678 posts, RR: 10
Reply 15, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 5846 times:
Thanks My gf flies a lot for business, but she's used to going on regional jets around Europe or the Airbus 319/20/21 family. This was her first time on a 747-400 and she made a comment to the effect of how could something that big fly (you see, she finds aviation rather dull and tolerates my interest).
I know coming back when the route map was working we flew very close to Reno - Winnipeg - Over the middle of nowhere - Baffin Bay (?). Still amazes me how people manage to live up there; but maybe they are the sensible ones escaping the chaos of everyday life
I'm wondering, is the Aurora Borealis a common phenomenon when flying that far North? I've flown over Northern Canada / Greenland a few times, and this is the first time I've seen anything like that. Stupid question probably, just wondering as I seemed the only person on the plane interested.
StevenUhl777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5725 times:
Quoting Barcode (Reply 15): (you see, she finds aviation rather dull and tolerates my interest).
Something to be said for that...don't dump her just yet, then...
Quoting Barcode (Reply 15): I know coming back when the route map was working we flew very close to Reno - Winnipeg - Over the middle of nowhere -Baffin Bay (?).
That sounds about right...departing flights tend to head NE out of SFO and depending on weather, will either go back over eastern Oregon and Washingto or over Boise, Idaho and Great Falls, Montana....then towards Churchill, Manitoba (polar bear capital of the world, by the way) across Hudson Bay, over Baffin Bay (where Illiquit is) and then across Greenland, towards Iceland....then Scotland, and then down over the Midlands into the LHR area.
And SF was AWESOME - It was also great to get out of the city and visit Muir Woods (quite creepy, and best to stay on the track unless you wish to encounter a Mountain Lion!). It's by far the friendlist, most open-minded place in the States I've visited .... a fact probably explained due to to many trips around the Southern US.
But the hills! It's usual for foreigners to gain weight when visiting the U.S, in my case, I lost it - good exercise! I'd say I can't wait to be back, but I'm getting a bit fed up with the constant paranoia of customs/TSA, and the introduction of biometric passports is going to be a bit off putting
Myt332 From Australia, joined Sep 2003, 9114 posts, RR: 68
Reply 20, posted (10 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5327 times:
Ahh thanks for the pics, they're great!
SFO is very 'good' for all sorts of people. I've picked up on what you said in your report, you probably made a good decision to there!
I didn't exactly go hiking much around the mountains (unless you count those hill like streets, god dam Lombard Street!) although I did visit the Napa and Sonoma valleys. The jerks wouldn't allow me to try the wine though, grr. It's funny you lost weight though, you're dead right in saying most people gain weight visiting the states. So much junk food about. Amazingly though, last time I went, I lost 1lb too. Haha.