Well, I’m writing this at 41 thousand feet over Prague (we have just flown over Dresden, fact-fans) on the way from London Heathrow to Bahrain.
My day started bright and early at 7am with a wake up call at my flat in Berkshire. My car was due to arrive at 7.30 am for the hours drive into Heathrow (the flight was due to leave LHR Terminal 4 at 1025). Unfortunately the car did not arrive until 8am. By this time I was getting a bit worried. I live in Crowthorne, which is a small town in the South East of England. Usually it takes ages to get to Heathrow in the mornings because of all the traffic. However when the car came it was a BMW 528i SE (according to the driver!) which had very nice acceleration thank you very much…doing over 100mph on a stretch of ‘A’ road between Ascot and Windsor. Amazing speeds for the rush hour traffic!
The route we took was through Windsor (past the castle) and then onto the M4, and then the M4 spur into the airport. We hit the Northern Perimeter Road and turned left to head for Terminal 4. I saw a Lufthansa A319 landing on runway 27R. When we headed down to the East Side Maintenance Area. There were loads of aircraft there, including lots of BA 747-400s, a CX 744 and A340 and there was also the tail of an ex-BA now Qantas B767-300ER sticking it’s backside out of one of the hangars. After this nice tour of Heathrow’s facilities we arrived at T4 at about 0910. Checked in and received my pre-assigned seat – 26K. I was told that the seat next to me (26K is a window, the arrangement on the 777 is 3-3-3 so the middle seat) was empty and the flight was not full. It’s always nice to have a free seat next to you.
After buying a Daily Telegraph in WHSmith I went through security and got some food at ‘Pret a Manger’. Boarding was through gate 1A on a bus AGAIN. I don’t think that I have ever been on a jetway with this flight, it is always a damn bus!! So went on the bus, got on the a/c and found my seat. Next door to us was a BA 744, G-CIVA. Our aircraft was a B777-200A, regn G-ZZZA, named ‘Sir Frank Whittle’. Was this the first 777 BA took delivery of?
The seat next to me was indeed free, and the stewardess told me that there was plenty of space as there was only 60 passengers on the flight. Nice one BA, making lots of money again! We pushed back a bit late and had a short taxi to the take off runway 27L. As we taxied we pulled in to the side taxiway to allow Concorde to taxi past on her daily BA001 to New York JFK. What a roar as she took off! As we rolled onto the runway and accelerated I saw another LH A319 (might it have been the one that I saw landing on the way in? Who knows!) and an Air India 744 and CY A310. Also, just for you Teahan there was the ubiquitous SR A330. I also saw the GF A340 in the special colour scheme take off before us. It is undoubtedly going to Bahrain, so we will see if our allegedly faster 777 (according to Boeing anyway) will catch up. With only 60 pax we should be going fairly quickly, and we are flying as high as flight level 410.
Lunch was served, Lamb medallions washed down with a very nice Vin d’pays de Oc Chardonnay. I was glad to see that my PTV was working – for the last 4 flights on BA it hasn’t. I know there are a load of Americans on this forum that will say ‘I get stuck on a 4 hour trans-con with no drinks and 28in of legroom and I have to pay $4 for a pair of headphones and you should be lucky you have a PTV at all even if it doesn’t work…’ but to be honest when I see a PTV in front of me I expect it to work. The films howeve where not what was promised in the IFE guide – I was promised ‘American Beauty’ but had to settle for the World is Not Enough (007) again! A very good film – Denise Richards: “I’ve got to get it back otherwise someone’s going to have my ass” – Pierce Brosnan: “First things first”. LOL
That’s all for now. We are now almost halfway to Bahrain, flying at 998 Km/h with 4:15 to go, and as distance of 2225 miles until touchdown. I’ll write the rest and upload tomorrow morning. Now back to 007 on the PTV…
Well it’s now Friday afternoon, 7th July and I am finishing off this trip report for Airliners.net. The rest of the flight was pretty good. I got a cockpit visit whilst about an hour from touchdown. There was a Northern Irish First Officer and an English captain. Both very hospitable. At the time we were cruising at 410 at a speed of M0.84. I asked loads of questions about the cabin air quality – the captain said that BA were conducting an investigation into alleged problems with the 777, but he said that most of the incidents involved smokers whose lungs could not cope with being 12 hours at a height of 7,500ft (the height the a/c is pressurised to.). I spoke to the F/O about the now-legendary LHR ATC delays – he said he was stuck at LGW trying to get to Atlanta on the Saturday which resulted in him having a 4-hour delay! He was a great guy, had flown Pipers, 146s, 747-400s and then the latest 777s. The captain was asking me if I was flying out on business to Bahrain – had to break it to him that I was only 17…
I was kicked out by the CSD (Cabin Service Director) after about 20 minutes and returned to 26K. We started descending over Dharhran into the haze which made the ground very hard to see. We came in towards Bahrain with the airfield on my side of the a/c – I thought we were going to do the traditional overflight and landing on Runway 30 from the South. However we suddenly banked away from the airport and entered the traffic pattern for the Northern end of the runway, runway 12. We lined up, gear came down and so did the flaps, and floated onto a very smooth landing. A Gulf Air A320 in the anniversary colour scheme was waiting to take off, as was a Qatar Airways A320. A DC-8 landed after us but I couldn’t see what airline operated it. Pulled up at the terminal was the GF A340 I saw at LHR plus an EK A310-300, a Kuwait Airways A310 and the usual bevy of Gulf Air A320s.
Went through immigration and met my parents. Seamless.
Went to the airport at 6.10am this morning (I’m supposed to be on holiday!) to fetch my brother. He was on GF008 arriving from LHR – equipment was an A330-200. Obviously GF are using the A340 on the 002 outbound from LHR and the 007 inbound because they need the capacity. Don’t know if they are making any money though – there were only 80 people on my brother’s flight!
(And if you get this far you deserve a medal...!)