New York ? London ? Berlin on British Airways
Having flown several times with British Airways in the past, this trip didn?t hold too many surprises. So here it goes:
NEW YORK JFK TO LONDON LHR
G-BNLF (New Union Flag [Chatham Historic Dockyard] color scheme).
Seat 51 H
This is the 11 pm departure, the last of the day, and is my preferred flight as the rush from the 6, 7 and 8pm flights, which pretty much check in together, has dissipated by then.
Everything about this flight worked like clockwork. Departure on Runway 31 L (a surprisingly short take-off roll for such a long and heavy flight) was on time, as was landing on Runway 9L some 6 hours later. The meal service was both plentiful and tasty: the main course involved a choice of roasted chicken or some beef , and was supplemented with a salad and a dessert pudding. Prior to landing, a continental breakfast of yogurt, breads, and juice was served. The only difference I noticed from previous flights was that there was no menu- perhaps a cost cutting measure since 9-11? After landing at terminal 4, I made a quick trek to Terminal 1 for my flight to Berlin Tegel.
LONDON LHR to BERLIN TXL
G-BMRB (Union Flag Scheme)
Seat 15 A
Many inter-European flights on BA are now simply designated with an "EQV" (equipment variable) on the web, so I wasn?t sure what aircraft I would be on. To my delight, it was a Boeing 757, as I had never flown on one of these. From outside the aircraft looked immaculate, but upon entry, I was surprised to see how worn the cabin looked. Panels were graying with dirt, and the overall ambience was grungy and dull.
I also have a question: why do BA?s B 757s (and 767s I think) have these black rings on their noses??? Other BA aircraft do not have them, and the B 757s of other airlines do not have them either, so clearly it can not be out of necessity. They look so ugly. Anyone ????
Take off was again on time, this time on Runway 9R. Here is where I was most impressed. The 757 accelerated like a bullet! It took us virtually seconds to get airborne, and once we lifted off, the climb was very quick. Wow! The flight itself was uneventful. There were no video monitors at all on board, and therefore no entertainment. The meal service included the "all day Deli" bags from BA, which were surprisingly very tasty indeed. We landed into Berlin from the East (Runway 26R), so we got a fascinating view of both formerly-East and ?West Berlin prior to touchdown.
Given that it serves Germany?s biggest city, Tegel airport was a joke. At 3 pm, the only aircraft visible were another British Airways 757, two Deutsche BA 737-300(?)s, a Lufthansa Boeing 737 and two Canadair Regional Jets. Just as surprising was that as you exit the aircraft, there is no international arrivals or customs halls. There is just a man in a booth at the end of the jet-way checking passports. Very provincial!
As an aside, BA lost my umbrella (which they had insisted I check-in), but then found it later and had it sent to my home.
BERLIN TXL to LONDON LHR
Airbus A 319
G EUPJ (Union Flag Scheme)
Seat 14 A
After a truly wonderful time in Berlin (the city itself is visually a little drab, but steeped in culture, and the people are among the friendliest I have encountered anywhere), I made my way back to the airport, again not knowing which aircraft I would be on. This time it was an Airbus 319 awaiting us. Incidentally, I have flown on three flights on a BA A319, and each time it has been the identical aircraft (EUPJ). Coincidence?
Take-off from Runway 26L was on time. The "all day deli" bag was handed out, and was this t time even tastier than its earlier counterpart. An absolute text-book perfect landing followed 1 h 30 min later on Runway 27. You could barely feel the touchdown or the braking, and no thrust reversers were employed.
London LHR to New York JFK
G BNLZ (Trees and Animals Color Scheme)
Seat 51 H
This is my favorite LHR-JFK flight as it is the least crowded. Yet on this day it was completely full in every class. On well, no empty seat next to me L
Apparently BA traffic across the Atlantic is improving as they have restored the flight they had cut after 9-11, and have upgraded all their JFK flights back to a 747-400.
I got to the airport on time, and checked in. The gate assigned was 11, but when we went through the door, we had to climb ldown and board a bus that took us to our aircraft. That was exciting, and we got to travel right past several BA 747s, a Qantas 747, and a Sri Lankan A 340. However when we reached our aircraft, it was not at some remote area but at Gate 20, docked to the jetway. So I don?t understand if the aircraft was already at a gate, why we were ferried to it from another gate instead of boarding it directly.
The aircraft was G-BNLZ, and let me say that this aircraft alone makes the case for getting rid of the World Image Tails. While some of the tail designs are tolerable (And one or two actually nice), most are not. And the bad ones look even worse on a 747 because the tail is so huge.
Because of the unusual boarding procedure, it took a while to get passengers on board.
At 1945, the scheduled departure time, the aircraft started pulling back from the stand, even though several passengers were still in the aisles and some had not yet placed their luggage into the bins. Perhaps the captain was afraid he would miss his take-off slot? I can imagine the fuss American carriers would have made about this.
Once air-borne, the flight was comfortable. The crew were friendly, and the food plentiful. The main meal comprised either braised beef or grilled fish (I had the latter; tasty enough), and a second "snack" included several different sandwich slices that were fun and filling.
Landing at JFK on Runway 22L, while on time, was like a roller-coaster ride, with the plane sliding from side to side until we came to a complete stop on the runway.
Overall I was very impressed with BA. In particular, the flight crew were friendly on every flight, the food quality was above average, and the in-flight entertainment was enjoyable.
I would recommend them without major reservations.
Hope you enjoyed this report. If anyone has any comments, suggestions, or answers as to my question about the 757 black ring, please write back!