Zarniwoop From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 265 posts, RR: 0 Posted (7 years 9 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3407 times:
My good friend was getting married back in the UK and I need to save my leave so I decided to fly back just for the weekend. I have done 4 or 5 day trips like this before but never such a short one. I planned to fly to LHR and meet my brother to get measured up a suit for his wedding then get a train up to Birmingham (where my family lives). The next day I would get a lift up to Manchester for the wedding then the next day fly down to LHR to catch my plane back to Singapore. Here is the itenary that I planned:
Thu 11 Aug BA18 SIN-LHR 747-400
Sun 14 Aug BD589 MAN-LHR A320
Sun 14 Aug BA17 LHR-SIN 747-400
(all economy class)
I got to changi airport already knowing about the Gate Gourmet strike at LHR. When I checked in I was given food vouchers so I filled myself up on junk food then bought enough sandwiches and crisps to last for the 13hr flight. I also got a small bottle of whisky As always, changi was a pleasure to wait at with great facilities and environment. When I got to the gate all passengers were being given a small food parcel with cheese & biscuits, etc. The gate was packed with people so I was expecting a full flight. We pushed back about an hour late, the captain said we were delayed waiting for clearance as the route up to Europe was really busy. The flight itself was fine, everyone was relaxed and there was no one making any trouble about the food. I could hear the FA's complaining about how boring it was going to be for them. I had a window seat so got a great view of the sun rising very slowly somewhere over Europe. The Himalayas can normally been seen on this flight, even at night but there was no moon so no such luck this time
I tried to get as much sleep as possible so didn't watch any movies but I left the map on the screen. About three hours before landing the map mysteriously got switched off. Then about one hour out of London the captain came on the speaker saying that we were being diverted to Glasgow Prestwick! The map switched back on to confirm this.
Obviously, everyone was a little shocked but kept calm. I was surrounded by aussies and we all had a joke about it. We were told that there would be buses to take us to London or there would be BA staff there to help us make other arrangements. Anyway, we dropped beneath the clouds into the Scottish countryside and landed at about 7am into Prestiwck coming in over the sea with some rugged, barren looking islands not too far away. The plane taxied and eventually we exited the plane via some stairs onto the pavement (no airbridge for 747 here!).
At the "terminal" building, there was one man checking the passports of all 300+ passports. It then took an hour and a half for the bags to come through. While we were waiting the BA staff were going round giving advice to everyone. I was told I could go to Glasgow and could get a connection to BHX. There was 7 coaches waiting outside, 6 going to LHR and one to GLA. I took the one to GLA. The coach trip to GLA took about 45 minutes. At GLA there were big queues at the BA ticket office so I just waited my turn. While I was queuing there were three or four TV news crews doing reports and press reporters interviewing passengers. When I got to the front I found that person who had been queuing in front of me got the last seat on the 11:30am flight to BHX so I would have to wait for the 17:30 flight (BA 1764). Had been given more food vouchers so I went and sat in a restaurant which had an excellent view over some of the gates. GLA is great for spotting if you like small, regional props and jets. There were some bigger planes around as well. The highlights for me were a BA twin otter and a BA Saab340, and one of my favorite planes, BAe146. There was a BA777 which I guess must have been diverted from LHR cause it departed empty late in the afternoon.
I went through to departures to find that my flight had been delayed to 19:30! I was starting to get really tired at this point. Did some more spotting then got a paper and a pint and sat and waited in the BA departures area. The flight eventually departed at about 8pm. TO my delight, the equipment was an Avro RJ100. I got a window seat looking out under the wing and finally got my Gin and Tonic
The flight was pretty quick, about 40minutes. We flew down over the lake district and I think we followed the M6 most of the way. Got a good view of The Hawthorns and Edgebaston cricket ground on the way. Did a left turn just after the M40/M42 junction and headed down to BHX. When we landed we parked at a remote stand and had to get a bus to the terminal. There was a BA 747 parked which must have also been diverted. If only the flight I was on had been diverted to BHX instead of Prestwick!!! We had to wait in the bus for about 15 minutes waiting for someone to come and escort us to the correct door. We were let in and went up some stairs only to find the door locked, so we had to wait another 10 minutes for someone else to come and let us in. Eventually got out of the airport and to my folks place. In the end, it was about 30 hours from checking in at SIN to leaving BHX. Soooo tired now. I like BHX, i see it as my home airport. If you are ever passing through make sure you check out the "museum" upstairs which has good shop (aviation books, dvd, etc) and good view over the runway with the ATC on a loudspeaker. After a great wedding got to MAN on Sunday for my short hop down to Heathrow. Checking in and waiting for the flight was pretty uneventful, apart from meeting David Gower (who was also on my flight). Boarded the BD A320 and had to wait for half an hour so cause someone had mis-counted the number of passengers. My first trip on an A320 and my seat was very close to the front (row 2). I couldn't believe how noisy the engine sound was during the climb. It was a very loud chopping kind of sound. Could buy food & drink on the flight but it was so expensive. Even shorter flight this time, cruised for about 2 minutes then descended down to London. Luckily got amazing views of the Thames, London Eye, Westmister, Richmond, Twickenham and Windsor Park on the way into LHR.
Landed at T1 and I was pretty nervous about transferring to T4 after hearing the horror stories on this site! In the end it was really easy, just got the heathrow express train (no charge). To avoid queuing I used the self-check in booth but they wouldn't take my bags till three hours before the flight so I had to hang around in the check in area for an hour. I've got to say, there was a distinct lack of seating. It was pretty busy in T4 but luckily everything seemed pretty normal compared to what I saw on the news from the day before. Eventually went through to departures. Got a meal and did some spotting while watching the sun set.
Had to walk miles to get to the gate (24 I think). The plane was almost 100% full but took off on time. The flight at the gate next to us was going to Sao Paulo and there seemed to be about 50 people waiting. The return flight to SIN was uneventful. Didn't have a window seat so watched movies and slept. I was listening to some other passengers around me who were saying they would never fly BA again. This is kind of sad cause the problems were not BA's fault, lots of other people must be thinking the same thing. Maybe some of the guys who went on strike should consider the damage they are doing to their company they work for.
The short trip with long haul flights was exhausting but worth it to see my friends again. In the cirumstances, at such short notice I think BA dealt with the problem OK. This is of course from my point of view, I was never at LHR during Friday or Saturday so I don't know how things were down there. I have travelled BA before SIN-LHR and back in normal circumstances and the service was good. My next trip to the UK is in three weeks but flying SQ (more expensive but I need to fly into CDG and out of LHR).......
Airbus3801 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1089 posts, RR: 5 Reply 4, posted (7 years 9 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 2928 times:
Great report, and I am sad to hear about people who are blaming BA for something that wasn't their fault, but you mustt keep in mind, striking or threatening to strike is so you will hurt the company's image like it did with those people.