Return Flight, RUH-LHR

Mon Jul 03, 2000 10:02 pm

Well, I wasn't going to bother writing the return part of this interesting sector, but since I have nothing else to do, until next Fri, when I fly back home to DXB (lucky me), I'll inform you of what happened, but it's rather a long report.

Well, I wasn't aware that BA did this, but I was actually able to at least get my boarding pass for the Sunday morning flight, on Saturday, at BA's office in Riyadh City Centre; this is a building where all the airlines serving Riyadh also locate their offices, and there was also a TWA office, I didn't know they made it this far East, but there you go.

I checked in at King Khalid airport with about an hour to go (00:50), and the check-in staff were not reporting any delays; there was however, a major dust storm over the whole of Riyadh, and the airport, and subsequently, visibility wasn't great. The main problem was the temperature-it was 120F, very hot, and the AirCon at the airport didn't exactly work that well. The entire terminal was aso pretty dusty, someone obviously left the windows open.

Other flights of interest I noted on the screens, where a Saudi flight to Washington and New York, and a Royal Air Maroc flight to Casablanca.

An AF and LH flight were also leaving, parked adjacent our waiting 777, they were I think, Airbus A300/310's although visibility was very low, I couldn't even see their tails.

No announcement for our boarding, a whole crowd of people just got up, and that obviously meant the flight was now boarding-a little disorganized really, I mean the AF and LH flights were actually announced, but not ours. At least the families with children were given priority (and there were A LOT of children on this flight).

I noticed the BA flightcrew arrive and board a couple of minutes before (except the flightdeck crew how were probably already on-board). The female FA's still had their hebayas on (these are black dresses which all women must wear to cover themselves in public, in Saudi Arabia), and the rule applies to female flightcrew as well).

The flight was packed, mostly with UK families going back for the summer, there were also some americans, off to LAX, JFK and ORD (noticed by the luggage tags at check-in).

The aircraft was G-ZZZD (777), in old BA c/s, named Wilbur/Orville Wright. I was in 35K by request, if in Economy, I always get the last row, it's usually empty, and it was this time as well, but that was lucky, because as I said, the flight was very nearly FULL.

I did notice some TWA containers on the ground, so they do fly to RUH, I didn't think they did. Anyway, our 01:50 departure time came and went, the Capt. came on to apologise, and explain that we were offloading cargo. This was probably due to the fact that our planned MTOW was over the safety range for the prevailing conditions ie. the temperature, so we had to wait for the crew to produce their revised weight and balance calculations.

We finally pushed back at 02:45. As we taxied, I noticed the RAM flight, a 757, and an A320 which I couldn't make out, maybe a Royal Jordanian. There was also the usual mix of Saudi aircraft, 2 777's 2 742's etc.

After holding short for a landing Saudi flight (couldn't make out the a/c, that's how dusty it was!), we departed from RUH's 33R, so pretty much on the correct heading for our sector. Into our initial climb, we met some pretty major turbulence, rather odd, but probably due to the high temperature. Once high enough, you were able to see the lights of Riyadh City under a blanket of covering dust, so the layer wasn't very thick.

A quick snack was distributed, just 3 or 4 sanwiches and some tea or coffee, after all, it was only 03:20!!

So on into the night we flew, there was some turbulence over Turkey, and I noticed we were flying over some mountains, so that was probably the cause. We had sunrise over Northern Turkey, brilliant spectacle, as it always is, and we flew straight over Istanbul. Until then, we had been flying at FL290 (probably due to traffic congestion in the airways above, or our weight situation), but we then climbed to our optimum, at FL390.

We then skirted western Bulgaria, and passed over to the North of Belgrade, then it was time for breakfast, as we flew over Croatia.

Mixed Grill or Omelette, I chose the Omelette, I think my car tires are probably tastier, but then this was Saudi catering, but then BA are in charge of contracting out their catering, they could have given the contract to Lufthansa catering, but there we are.

The crew were very friendly, three had crashed out on the last aisle row during the night, they obviously don't have any bunks on the 777.

We had had some pretty strong headwinds all the way, mostly at 70kmh.

We then flew just to the South of Frankfurt, North of Cologne, and then I decided to read my national geographic, so no more route news for you.

As we arrived over London, we did the first of two 360's, the weather over London was crappy, as usual.

We then flew straight across London, to make our approach into the LHR area, where we joined a small stack, headed by a BA757, then a Virgin 744, then us, then a Gulf Air A330.

We made our approach into 27L, the same R/W we had departed on when flying off to RUH.

The usual assortment of airlines and a/c at LHR, plus the Sultan of Brunei's private 744 (never mind the BBJ), and his daughter's A340 in RB colours (an 18th Birthday present I believe).

We were assigned a remote stand, rather irritating considering it was cold and miserable outside, but there we are, that's life. We were parked adjacent a BA742, didn't know they still had those.

The Capt. and FO (a lady) came out to give their farewell as we stepped out of the a/c (and what a BIG step that was), and off we went to the terminal.

I noticed BA's 777 services from Kuwait and Dubai had snapped up the jetty gates before us, never mind.

There we are, hope you enjoyed this rather long report.
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Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2000 8:34 am

RE: Return Flight, RUH-LHR

Mon Jul 03, 2000 10:06 pm

Cool report.

The weather here at LHR just sucks doesn't it!
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BA And The 747-200

Mon Jul 03, 2000 11:55 pm

If my informattion is correct, BA still has 15 747-200s in everyday operation. The 747-100s have been retired though.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
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Joined: Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:49 am

RE: Great Report!

Tue Jul 04, 2000 1:42 am

Hi Tailscraper, great report. Just a few questions:-

1) You mentioned the FO was a lady and of course, BA has quite a few female pilots (my last BA flight had a female FO, coming into JER on an A320), but to Saudi. Surely she didn't actually choose this route (probably very junior), but I'm wondering if the Saudis would have objected to a female pilot, if they knew?

2) Does BA serve alcohol on BA flights from Saudi?

3) did you go up front to have a look?

Finally - I have been very lucky on my past three flights into Heathrow, particularly one on the June bank holiday weekend - blissfully clear! (I have seen LHR in lousy weather though!)
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RE: Return Flight, RUH-LHR

Tue Jul 04, 2000 2:53 am

Thanks a lot for the great report, glad you bothered to write it.

Do you have plans to fly PIA in the future?



RE: Return Flight, RUH-LHR

Tue Jul 04, 2000 3:32 am



No, the Saudis don't have problems with female flightcrew; they only object to females driving vehicles on the road, ie. it's illegal.

Alcohol IS served, theoretically they should close the bar once over Saudi airspace, in practise, they're pretty relaxed about it.

I did go up-front on the flight out, as I had arranged a jumpseat, the flightdeck was smaller than I thought, but fairly uncluttered and very quiet.



As for PIA, I'm flying out with them from DXB sometime in the next month, to see my Dad in ISB. It'll probably be a 742. I'm also planning on a flight to Lahore, that'll probably be a 733/4.

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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:54 am


Wed Jul 05, 2000 12:24 pm

Here are the 15 747-200s that are in British Airways fleet. They mainly operate on Northern Atlantic routes. Seeing that you don't fly on those routes, you are forgiven for thinking they were no longer in the fleet. They are still 15 strong and will most likely be in operation for a further 5 years. 3 of the 747-200s are combi models. Next time you are at LHR take a closer look at all those 747s and decipher which are 744s and which are 742s  

292 B747-236B 07/27/77 G-BDXA
302 B747-236B 06/16/77 G-BDXB [LST NGA 02DEC99]
305 B747-236B 06/22/77 G-BDXC*
321 B747-236B 03/27/78 G-BDXE
323 B747-236B 04/24/78 G-BDXF*
328 B747-236B 06/16/78 G-BDXG*
365 B747-236B 03/27/79 G-BDXH
430 B747-236B 03/05/80 G-BDXI*
440 B747-236B 05/02/80 G-BDXJ
495 B747-236B 03/30/83 G-BDXK
506 B747-236B 02/10/84 G-BDXL
672 B747-236B(M) 02/25/87 G-BDXM*
674 B747-236B(M) 03/17/87 G-BDXN
677 B747-236B 04/23/87 G-BDXO*
697 B747-236B(M) 02/24/88 G-BDXP

* Denotes eye witness accountability for their operations. a.k.a. I saw them at the airport preparing for flight. G-BDXD was placed in storage on the 17th of Dec 99.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower

RE: Many Thanks

Wed Jul 05, 2000 5:42 pm

Thank you,
As I said, I had no idea BA still had so many classics in their fleet, even less that they operated any Combis!!
No, you're right, I've never been to the US, but would love to go. I'd probably prefer to use a US airline, as I have never flown one before.

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BA 742

Wed Jul 05, 2000 5:47 pm

They are starting to be retired from late this year, I know that DXF is going in approx 1 years time.

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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:54 am

RE: BA 742

Wed Jul 05, 2000 11:18 pm

They are to be retired by the RR powered 777-200ERs when enough of them have come on line. I would assume that 3-5 years would be the time frame on that. They could speed up the withdrawal but if capacity is needed they could slow it down.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower

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