London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sat Nov 10, 2001 10:36 pm

Yesterday (Friday), I flew out to Lisbon with BA; it was meant to be a nice weekend trip, but unfortunately, it didn't work out. :-(

Well, I elected to fly on BA's early morning run to Lisbon, BA 500, leaving LHR at 0750.

I purposefully arrived rather late (just under 1 hour before departure), as I was going to give the "Self-Service" check-in a little test, and I only had hand-luggage.

It was fantastic; very easy really, you just slot your ticket into the machine, and then their computers retrieve your booking; you just have to confirm the details, choose your seat (I already was assigned 24A, which was fine-a window seat), and then lastly insert your frequent-flyer card, if you have one.

Out pops the boarding card (it's actually the ticket you had, with a seat number & gate printed on). Lasted about 20 seconds, and then off I went to airside, and towards my gate.

The a/c was an A320, in boring Union Flag colours. The flight looked to be rather full, and lots of businessmen were using this early morning flight-they were mostly walking around the gate area talking to their colleagues on their cellphones.

Boarding commenced on-time. I love the interior cabin of the A320, and BA now has blue leather seats throughout the cabin; in fact, they are the same seats used in Club World, with the only difference being there is an empty middle seat in CW.

The flight was indeed full, Business Class wasn't completely full, but certainly busier than I thought it would be.

The cabin service was better than I expected, I always had the impression BA Euro service wasn't that good. The crew were very cheery, and we were even offered papers!

The only complaint I have is the food: We were served an "all-day Deli", which was a poor excuse for a ham & cheese croissant, a puny fruit salad, and a tasteless "Bio" yoghurt.

And we weren't even served drinks first, before the "snack", as I like.

To be honest, the phrase "Why Bother?" came to mind, when looking at the food. They should either serve a nice, tasty full English breakfast (even if the businessmen already had one on their previous flight into LHR), which they definitely have time to serve, as Lisbon is a slightly longer sector than most; OR, they don't serve anything at all!

Well, the aircrew sounded quite young, and the Captain informed us that we had extremely strong tailwinds (in excess of 170mph), so we ended up landing in Lisbon about 1/2 hour earlier-nice.

The approach into Lisbon had to be one of the bumpiest I have ever experienced. The weather was fantastic, but for some reason, there was a lot of rough air about.

We came in North-West of Lisbon, flew alongside the whole Western length of the city, before turning round to approach from the South-West over the River Tejo; this was the part when we really encountered some very rough air indeed; at one point, as we were banking left over the river, we were caught by a particularly violent burst which nearly knocked us off our turning axis.....or whatever it's called.

Pretty strange to encounter such severe turbulence, so close to the final approach; the poor cabin crew were really struggling to walk properly down the cabin to their seats, quite funny to seem them try, as the aircraft was all over the place.

Well, we had a great view of Belem, South-West of Lisbon city, and I made out the Belem tower, the monument to the Portuguese discoveries, and that old monastery which I really wanted to vist.

Touch-down was very smooth, given the very bumpy final approach.

We arrived at 9:50am (instead of 10:25am), and Lisbon airport looked very quiet; I saw very few a/c as we taxied along the ramp, but obviously good old Varig was there, with a 762. We parked along a Continental 757, and I didn't know they flew to Lisbon; I have no idea where it was going though.

The flight was great; more than on-time, very nice seats & crew, but something should really be done about food-it's blatantly obvious where the cost-cutting is taking place!

Well, I actually ended up flying back that night-unfortunately, as I took the bus downtown, my wallet was stolen, along with all my money & cards, so I was penniless.... :-(

After seeing the police, I visited the BA office in Lisbon, and they were great! They changed my ticket free of charge, they put me in touch with the British Embassy, and then arranged a special taxi to take me back to the airport-I was really impressed!!

Well, return trip report will follow.


RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sun Nov 11, 2001 3:14 am

Well, after little more than a couple of hours in Lisbon, I headed back to the airport with the taxi that BA had kindly provided free of charge.

I decided to check-in straight away, and the desk was manned by a very nice lady, who asked me what seat I would like-I was given 18A this time.

The boarding card also featured my Executive Club tier & number, so all staff referred to me as "sir"-very funny, I thought.

Well, it was only 2pm, and the flight wasn't scheduled to leave until about 1800! I was actually allowed to use Tap's "Navigator Lounge", but it was pretty poor, and I soon got very tired of watching CNN, which I don't particularly like anyway.

I wandered around the terminal for a couple of hours-there are two Harrods shops at Lisbon airport, but I had virtually no money, so buying presents for myself was ruled out.

On the viewing side, there were a couple of TAP Airbus a/c, and I saw a few other a/c come and go (Iberia A320, LTU A320, Air Azores A310).

Boarding for my flight, BA 503, started at 17.30.

The a/c was a B737-400, in Blue Poole colours. Again, leather seats throughout were a nice feature; I ended up sitiing next to a vicar and his wife, although his wife was a slightly more interesting personality, and I lent her a copy of my Private Eye magazine, which she found very funny.

We pushed-back about 10 minutes early; the Captain explained that there were very strong headwinds from the North, which would lengthen the flight considerably-it was going to take about 3 hours to Heathrow (this is the same wind we used on the early morning flight).

The crew were again better than I expected; the food was also much better (same "all-day deli", but the food tasted a lot fresher); again, they served the drinks AFTER the meal, which I think is crazy!

The only other complaint was that my salmon was full of bones-there's nothing worse than eating fish which haven't been properly de-boned, or whatever the term is.

Well, the vicar & his wife soon hit the booze, leaving me to the tea and biscuits......did I spot an irony here? Big grin

The flight was again full, and this time even Club Europe (as opposed to Club World, which is what I accidentally wrote in my post above), was full.

There wasn't much to see out of the window really, although the Captain pointed out Porto, and then Southampton, once we were over the Channel.

Great to see the fireworks still going after Guy Fawkes. As we approached London, we were put into a very long holding pattern, which I was surprised by, as I didn't expect LHR to be so busy at around 9.30pm.

The Captain again came on to point out Concorde, which we were following in to land.

The touch-down came at about 9.50pm, and as we rolled to a stop, I caught a glimpse of Concorde taxiing back to Terminal 4-she looks a lot nicer all lit up at night.

An Icelandair 757 came in behind us.

As we made our rather lengthy taxi back to Terminal 1, we passed the usual mixture of airlines at LHR, and a Uzbekistan 757 getting ready to taxi out to the r/w.

On leaving the a/c, the Captain also came out to wish us well.

So, if I were to award points out of 10 for the BA service to Lisbon and back, I would award 8/10. The overall service was very good, and I have very little to complain about.

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RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sun Nov 11, 2001 3:45 am

Great Report!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Ba really does need to sort out that deli crap.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
I think they must have seen it on those interstate routes than the US Airlines do. It doesn't suite BA to do this though.
I think the reason for your holding pattern is that alot of Far Eastern flights take off around that time and a few US bound flights. So really that kind of time and about the same time but am is the bussiest LHR gets. With all the long haulers comming in and going out.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
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RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sun Nov 11, 2001 5:32 am

What horrible luck you had in Lisbon. Shame one idiot had to ruin the whole city for you.

Good trip report though.

RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sun Nov 11, 2001 9:59 am

I enjoyed your descriptions of the aircraft, and the city of Lisbon on approach. Very unfortunate about your wallet though. Seems like even on the best trip, something happens like that. I have wondered about Lisbon Airport, and your report game me some thoughts. It seems not the busiest, but with some not common aircraft.


RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sun Nov 11, 2001 7:55 pm

Hi Turbo,

If you were thinking in terms of "spotting", I would first check to see when the airport was busiest, because on a Monday, it certainly didn't seem to be (unless you like TAP Air Portugal! Big grin ).

I know that they do get a couple of interesting airlines (TAAG Angola, 743), TACV-Cape Verde, 757, Air Azores A310).

There were a couple of a/c parked on the ramp bewteen each r/w. These included two "yes" Tristars (I guess these were charter airlines), an Air Azores A310 being prepared for a flight to Ponta Delgada and Boston, and a government-owned 707, which looked as if it had been impouded.

There was also a TAP A340, these are used to South Africa, Angola, Mozambique etc.

But the city is also very nice, you should pay it a visit (I've rebooked for January, and have managed to obtain a fare with BA for GBP89, inclusive of taxes, so I'm very happy, especially as I was impressed with their Euro service).


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RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sun Nov 11, 2001 9:42 pm

Capt Picard,
Great trip report but what happened to your wallet. Did you retrieve it.

RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Sun Nov 11, 2001 10:22 pm

No chance, there wasn't much the police could do anyway-the number of petty thefts in any large city is staggering, the police are right to direct their resources to much more serious crimes.

Anyway, I only lost GBP40 pounds, and I have blocked my credit cards, and am getting replacements for other cards such as my BA frequent-flyer card etc.

I am actually hoping to email the low-cost airlines to persuade them to fly to Lisbon!

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RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Mon Nov 12, 2001 3:26 am

Nice report, I've always found in the last couple of years BA's shorthaul service has been excellent.

Was surprised to hear that they served a cold breakfast on the LHR-LIS sector which has a flying time of just under 2 hours, leaving at 0745. A couple of months ago I flew BA CDG-MAN, when everyone on the plane got a hot breakfast, that was a 55 minute flight leaving at 0950. I was expecting an all-day deli bag, but was very pleased to get a hot breakfast after Air France's earlier pitiful offering - Small bread roll, cornflakes, water, coffee/tea; Bon Apetit - not.

BA always serve drinks after the meal on their short flights, rationale being to give you time to eat. Note how long it takes to serve the same meals to everyone, and how much longer it takes to complete the drinks service filling individual orders. You wouldn't have a lot of time to eat if they served drinks first on shorter flights like CDG and AMS! Similarly Swissair and Lufthansa both do the same on their short-haul flights.

My favorite BA flight is MAN-LGW which I fly a few times a year, flight time 35-45 min and hot breakfasts on all flights leaving before 0930. Now that's hard work for the crew.

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RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Mon Nov 12, 2001 11:27 pm

CP, really sorry you had such a bad time in Lisbon. It's actually a great city but it does have a bit of a crime problem...mainly petty stuff such as wallets. Although, when we lived there you were mad to expect your hubcaps to remain on your car and also your radio to remain in it!

I agree with you - the approach into LIS is spectacular - and now that the PdS (the airport) is getting 'closer' to the centre of town it's getting more and more like the old HKG!

RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Tue Nov 13, 2001 6:22 am

Thanks Crosswind for your explanation on the drinks-I have always preferred to drink before I eat, but I see the reasoning.

Hope you enjoyed the report, thought I'd give you a little insight on BA shorthaul, which I'm not very familiar with, given Stansted is my "home" airport, and I usually fly the no-frills airlines!

Always buy an e-ticket if you can, it saves hassle and means you can get to the airport a little later than usual (I hate the waiting at airports).

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RE: London To Lisbon On BA Airbus

Tue Nov 13, 2001 6:29 am

great report



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