Oh well here goes. This is my first trip report and I don't know if I'll be up to everyone elses high standards but I'll give it my best shot. Just after Christmas I decided I would treat myself to a weekend away for my birthday in March. I settled on New York but the question was how to get there. Having seen that the BA service was being upgraded to include new Club World, WT+ and PTV's in economy , I thought I'd give WT+ a go providing it wasn't too expensive. I searched around a bit and the best price I could find was at www.ba.com - £518 which I thought was quite reasonable (for comparison the cheapest direct WT fare was £330). Cheap as it was it was still a lot of money for a weekend trip so I thought I'd try to use some AirMiles . They wanted 4900 miles+tax (£140) so after borrowing some miles from a friend I went with that option.Thank you Tesco!
Friday 10th March 2006, MAN-JFK BA1503 ETD 10:00
I had previously used the "manage my booking" section of the BA website to enter my details ( passport number, address in USA etc) and reserve seats (which were honoured), and I used the on-line check in service the night before selecting seat 13k. See http://www.seatexpert.com/_BA767_NCW.htmlwww.seatexpert.com for the seatplan.
So it was up bright and early at 6.00 for the 20 mile drive to MAN. I work in Manchester and to arrive at work by 9 I have to leave at 7.30 but I thought that the traffic would be lighter earlier, and I was right. I parked up in the short term multi storey car park at terminal 3 and proceeded to check in. Many anetters who've been to MAN know how expensive the parking is so I had prebooked through BCP which offered a reasonable £24 for arriving on Friday and leaving on Monday ( tip: Lufthansa offer discounted prices with BCP through their website). I could have got it cheaper but its so much easier using the parking connected to the airport instead of waiting for shuttle busses etc.
At 8am the terminal was very busy and I had to fight my way past the BMI check-in queue to get to the BA section. BA1503 was using the desks at the right hand end of the building and there was quite a queue. I went straight to the fast bag drop where formalities took less than a minute with no wait, just the ususal security questions. Then it was off for some breakfast! I headed into terminal 1 and went to the waiter service Lancaster Brasserie where they were offering Full English for £4.95 which was less than the food court was charging (£7). I had a very pleasant time watching the planes come and go through the damp gloom managing to contain my excitement, I'm just a big kid when it comes to air travel! I stayed there until 9:00 and headed back to terminal 3 to go through security. There was a bit of trouble getting my boarding pass to scan, but after about 10 tries it finally beeped and I was allowed through. There was no queue for security and as nobody wanted to search me or my bag I was through in about a minute.
Terminal 3 is not the most inspiring of places and you have to search it out a bit. Just after security are the domestic gates and the area is cramped when busy which it was. Unfortunately the larger lounge area was obscured by screens/retail outlets so if you hadn't been there before it wasn't immediately obvious. I went through to the duty free shop and had a look around then headed off to the gates to see what was about. It was much quieter at the gate area, especially at the far end where 2 AA 767s were waiting for their flights to ORD and MIA. This was also a good spot to watch arriving aircraft as it was level with the touchdown zone of 24R which was in use. At 9:30 I proceeded to the gate and saw G-BNWR waiting. Boarding started at 9:40 and was a bit of a free for all. There was a pre board announcement for passengers with small children, then it was general boarding for everyone else,not by row, or Club World passengers first.
Everyone was soon on board and settled in and then we waited. The load was 100% in WT and WT+ At 10:15 the captain spoke and explained that they'd had a few minor problems that had been sorted out but were missing the charts for the diversionary airports en route so we would be waiting a bit longer until they arrived. He also said that due to strong headwinds we would be taking a very northerly route and that the flight would be longer than normal at 7 hours 40 minutes. Finally at 10:30 we pushed back and the engines started. We taxied over to runway 24L and took off at 10:40.
As it was a cloudy day there wasn't much to be seen outside so I started to explore my seat. I was very impressed with the space that I had, there was plenty of legroom and I could stretch my arms out in front of me without touching the seat in front. In the seat pocket there was a safety card, Highlife magazine, duty free shopping brochure and a card demonstrating the features of the seat.The seat pocket is higher up the seat than normal so when the seat in front reclines you don't get your knee space reduced by much. I found the seat to be very comfortable, with an adjustable winged headrest, inflatable lumbar support, and an extendable leg rest with fold out foot rest. Usually the foot rest folds down from the seat in front except for the bulkhead seats where it folds out of the leg rest, but on this aircraft all seats were like the bulkhead version. I have read at www.airlinequality.com that some people feel the leg rest to be a waste of time , but I found it to be quite supportive especially if you didn't use the footrest or were turned to one side when sleeping. I also like the way that the table folds out from the armrest, so your food isn't disturbed if the person in front reclines. The downside of this is that you can't raise the armrest but I prefer this as it means if you're sat next to a very large person, they don't invade your space so much. I had picked seat 13K as a) I wanted a window seat, b) I liked the idea of being able to recline my seat without disturbing anyone, c) I wanted to be on the side of the plane away from the sun, d)I had seen from the pics on anet that the WT+ cabin on the 767 was where there are missing windows. The only pics of the new interior showed the back of the cabin and i could see that row 13 definately had a window. All 4 rows did have windows but rows 10 and 11 each had a blank section too.
The cabin service commenced with a drinks service. Unfortunately there was no Bailey's so I had to settle for a Grolsch. Lunch was a choice of chinese chicken or minced lamb. I opted for the lamb which was a bit bland , but OK, served with salad, a bottle of water dessert and chocolate.There was a choice of 18 video and 16 audio channels. Too see what was on offer see: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/ifeout18/public/en_gb?class=wtp
I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire followed by the comedy channels. The airshow showed that we were around 35000 feet with headwinds of about 80mph. We flew just south of Greenland and as the weather had cleared had a great view of the icy mountains of the southern tip. The flight went very smoothly with only intermittant light turbulance.
Soon we were approaching New York and were given a cheese sandwich as a snack. Our routing took us straight down the Hudson River out over the sea before turning back west over land then turning south to land on runway 22L at 13:30 , 50 minutes late. There was an Aer Lingus A330 just in front of us , and we taxied to terminal 7 where we were on stand at 13:40 next to A CX A340.
Then we waited and waited. The captain then apologised for the delay. apparently due to our late arrival the ground crew were short staffed but he had radioed the company and someone would be with us soon! The doors were finally opened at 13:55. Miraculously there was no wait at immigration, although the fingerprint machine was being a bit temperamental, and the delay in disembarking meant that my bag was already on the carousel so I found myself in the New York sunshine (it was 18 degrees C!)by 14:10 waiting for my shuttle van (pre booked through the BA site).
I spent a very pleasant couple of days in New York. I stayed at the Metro hotel on W35th Street just round the corner from the Empire State Building. I have been before and as the weather was so nice I had a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and a wander around Flushing Meadows as well as the usual touristy sights.
Sunday 12th March 2006, JFK - MAN BA1502 ETD 18:00
I spent the morning visiting the Intrepid. This is an old aircraft carrier with interesting exhibits inside and several aircraft on the flightdeck. This is really interesting and well worth a visit. They also have Concorde G-BOAD parked on a barge next door and you can go inside. It was really sad seeing Concorde here looking like a fish out of water and she could definately do with a good scrub! Inside the first thing that hits you is the smell of leather and you realise that even if they are designer seats they still look very plasticy and that WT+ looks much more inviting! If you are going to visit it is worth noting that they only allow 12 people on board at a time so if its busy they hand you a ticket with a time slot to go and queue. When I was there it was quiet so I went on 3 times.
It was soon time to head back to JFK. The shuttle van came for me at 14:30 which I thought was a bit early, but the traffic was horrendous and it took over an hour to reach the airport. I had not checked in on-line as I wanted to see if there was a chance of a check-in upgrade. I headed to the self service kiosk and asked the attendant if this was offered. She went away to ask her colleagues and said that for $250 I could upgrade to WT+. I said I was already in WT+ and was looking to upgrade to Club ( I had explained that) so off she went again but when she came back she said it wasn't being offered on my flight, never mind. She was really nice though and she clearly didn't mind trying to find out for me which I appreciated. So I used the self service machine, and fast bag drop which took all of 5 minutes. I don't know why more people don't use the onlone check-in/self service machines as I find it so much easier picking your own seats and not having to queue. As it was now about 15:50 I had some time to kill so i thought I'd try out the Airtrain. There are 2 lines, one only serves the terminals in a loop, the other serves the terminals and the parking areas and connects to the New York Subway. I stayed on the inter terminal loop train for over half an hour as the weather had turned and it was raining and overcast with low cloud base so you couldn't see take offs or landings. You do get a good view of all the terminals and there is plenty to see at JFK. I saw both the EOS and Maxjet planes, Aeroflot 767, SAA A340 and a BA 747 parked on the cargo side which had been there on Friday. If you have time to kill at JFK I would recommend the airtrain if your terminal doesn't have a good view.
At 16:30 I headed back to terminal 7 to go head to head with the TSA. Having been through several US airports in the past I was expecting a long wait but I was wrong. I was through in about 5 minutes . The only thing that gave them cause for concern was when I took off my belt. I had the top button of my trousers unfastened and the attendant thought my trousers might fall down ! I reassured her that it was just because for some reason they are a bit tighter than they used to be and that she needn't worry ,they were'nt going anywhere.
Terminal 7 is not bad for a US airport and the time soon passed but there wasn't much to see just an Iberia A340. This time boarding was done by row and I was soon settled in seat 13F. I usually go for a window but as the flight was in darkness I wasn't that bothered and with a centre seat I wouldn't disturb my seatmate if I needed to get up or be disturbed by them if they wanted to move. Another advantage of row 13 is that you can put small carry on items in the space behind your seat.WT+ only had one spare seat. Flight time was estimated at 6 hours 10 minutes. There was an ontime push back followed by a longish taxi (or so it seemed not being by the window) then take off from runway 31L. The flight was generally smooth but there was a patch of moderate turbulence over Canada when the flight attendants had to be seated. The cabin service was a repeat of the outbound journey. This time it was a choice of chicken with rice or pasta with tomato sauce served with salad, roll, bottle of water, chocolate bar and cake. This was delicious and I ate every scrap. I then settled in to watch Jarhead. for the other offerings see: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/ifein18/public/en_gb?class=wtp
The games were also working on this flight, they hadn't on the way out.
I then reclined my seat , put on my eyemask and earplugs and went to sleep for about 3 hours. There was no amenity kit given out but I always bring my own. Just as I woke up the breakfast snack of Muffin and juice was being served and with only 50 minutes to landing there was just time to eat this and have a quick trip to the toilet to freshen up before landing. The toilets on both flights were clean and well stocked and with one toilet for only 24 people there was never a queue.
The approach to Manchester over the Pennines was bumpy and wobbly as usual and we touched down smoothly on runway 24R at about 05:30, 25 minutes early. I saw Concorde at the AVP and thought 2 Concordes in 24 hours wasn't bad going. The luggage didn't take long to arrive and I was driving out of the car park just after 06:00 , home by 06:45 to be greeted by snow everywhere!
Overall I had a great trip. The flights themselves were great, the staff always helpfull and friendly and WT+ really made a difference even on a relatively short flight. The extra space meant I never felt claustrophobic or cramped and being in a separate cabin did feel more exclusive. Being at the front meant you were guaranteed your choice of meal, and had a headstart at US immigration. Was WT+ worth the extra money? If you can afford it ,go for it. Of course its a matter of personal preference , some people would prefer to spend the money on a better hotel or more shopping but for me it was worth every penny (or AirMile).
As I said this is my first trip report so don't be too harsh on me. I'm sure i've left bits out so feel free to ask.
Thanks also to anetter Trekster for his advice before I went.
Don't try to keep up with the Joneses - bring them down to your level !
Demoose From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1952 posts, RR: 26 Reply 3, posted (7 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 27378 times:
Excellent report and nice to see the photos of the dusked 767-300's, certainly an improvement on their previous transatlantic service from Manchester. Delta will be joining BA on this route from May, so it's obviously popular, just hope BA stay on the route.
Fbgdavidson From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 3688 posts, RR: 31 Reply 9, posted (7 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 26012 times:
Nice report! I've done WT+ a few times now and feel I'd struggle to go back into WT. The extra legroom is definitely a great bonus and a good stop gap for those who can't stretch to paying for Club World.
Good pictures from NYC, the cockpit on G-BOAD looks a less lively than on my last visit.
A few other observations:
1) I didn't realise AA flew from MAN-MIA!
2) You could have upgraded from WT+ to CW for £600 between UK and US cities. Onboard if there is room you'll get upgraded. It goes through the Duty Free system and if you keep the receipt you can credit the upgraded miles and tier points
3) Good work on putting a BA number in the booking I found out recently that AirMiles bookings go into revenue buckets and earn miles and points!
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey