It was in fact the first time that I: Crossed the 'Pond', went to the US & flew longhaul on British Airways.
It all began last Saturday (the 12th) in Copenhagen, where I, along with my dad & sister, were going to fly to New York, spend 5 days there just doing nothing but sightseeing, and then fly back again.
We had not been issued tickets, as we had bought a package tour (flight, hotel etc.) from a tour operator, instead we had been issued a code. Of course, that was bound to give us trouble. As we checked in at 11.10 (local time) for a 13.45 flight, we were told that we needed to speak to the local BA office in order to get the right tickets. The gate agent could see that we had been booked and all that, we just didn't have a physical ticket. So, we headed over to the local BA office and were presented with a BA clerk who spoke to us as if we were kids (I'm 20, my sister is 23, I doubt we would be seen as "kids"). After a lengthy wait (during which they both telephoned & faxed back & forward between the tour operator and the BA office), we were finally handed our ticket. By then, the time had passed 12 noon, and the lines were starting to grow (the whole idea in arriving early was to avoid just that!). However, we checked in in a reasonable short time, and before long we were airside.
I decided to go up to the Silent Area, which has some large & comfy chairs, not to mention a great view of the apron. During my short stay there (only some 30 minutes), and I managed to catch a glimpse of the following birds:
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Photo © Sven De Bevere
Photo © Luis Goncalves
We decided to stroll down to gate A15, which is in the non-schengen area of Terminal A (Terminal C is non-EU & non-Schengen flights), and next to our 'bus, I could SE-DIP, one of SAS's countless MD's.
Departure (Sched./Act.): 13.45/13.45
Arrival (Sched./Act.): 14.40/14.50
Copenhagen Kastrup - London Heathrow
Del: July 22nd, 1988
Photo © Chris Sheldon
Photo © Gary Watt
Boarding commenced at 13.20, and as we joined the queue in the cabin (waiting for the Club Europe passengers to sit down) I was able to get a prolonged view of the cockpit.
As I had seat just above the wing, I was puzzled a bit by the fact that our 'bus was missing it's winglets. It took me a few moments before I realized that the -100 series weren't fitted with winglets! d'oh! I settled in for the short 1?? jump over to London Heathrow.
Pushback commenced at 13.45 and the engines were started (along with the humming noise, that causes a bit of headache). The load for the flight was around 95-100% in that I was only able to spot 1 available seat in my immediate vincinety. As we taxied out, we passed a MYT A320 in the hybrid scheme (all white, only the orange MyTravel blot right behind L1 door had been applied).
Takeoff was behind a landing SAS Dash 8, and we lifted off from 04R into a bit of a bumpy cloud layer above Copenhagen. For some reason, we turned right and then did a 180 degree turn, so we ended up going south to the east of CPH. Rather unusual IMO.
As soon as we had leveled off at FL300, we were presented with our lunch, which consisted of:
Ham & Cheese or Egg & Tomato roll
Chocolate/orange cake (I had two, as my sister didn't want hers )
Drinks from the bar
Tea & Coffee
After the short lunch, I read trough some tabloids (BT & the Daily Mail) to kill the time, and before long we were descending into London Heathrow. During the descent, the F/O came on and told us that ATC had advised of at least 10 minutes in the hold, and he proceeded to explain a bit as to what a hold was, where we holding and told us where some of the other holding aircrafts were (I managed to spot at least 3).
After 3 turns in the hold, we started the approach over London, going for runway 27R at Heathrow. As usual, this gave a bit of a good view of London, complete with a soccer stadium passing on our left side (I think it was QPR's home field, spotted a Q somewhere) and we touched down at 14.45. On short final, I was able to pick out both B-HOX as well as the AFX 747 that looks like it haven't moved for ages. Heavy braking meant that we were able to clear the runway around T3, a good thing as I could see a BA 744 on short short finals for our runway
A short taxi to T1 followed, during which I was able to spot 'Wunala Dreaming' by T4 (I thought she did the pacific runs?). We parked at 14.50 next to G-BNWA, a BA 767 in the Delftblue Daybreak colours, some 10 minutes late, but considering that we had to go into a holding pattern, it was fair enough. We then had 1?? hour to transfer over to T4 for our late afternoon flight to Newark.
Departure (Sched./Act.): 16.20/16.20
Arrival (Sched./Act.): 19.10/19.05
London Heathrow - New Jersey Newark Intl
Gate: 10, Terminal 4
Del: February 25th, 1997
Photo © Stuart Lawson
Photo © Jason Taperell
According to my itinary, this flight would be operated by a 777, and sure enough, that's what was parked at stand Tango 10, serving terminal 4. On her side were, on the right was G-BYGF, a 747-400 in the Chelsea Rose colours, and on her left was C-VIIC, a 777-200ER in the Chatham Dockyards colours (aka Union Jack). We arrived there with some 15 minutes to spare, enough time for my dad to get 2?? quick cigarettes in the nearby smoking area (at least LHR is somewhat civilized when it comes to dealing with smokers. I've heard quite a number of horror stories regarding smoking rooms in the US ) before boarding started at 15.45 for our 16.20 flight. I had noticed that we were in the middle of a runway change, so I expected that we would be using 27R for takeoff (as I saw quite a lot of a/c's landing on 27L). Boarding was rather smooth, probably helped by the fact that there were 4 lines, one of which were for First class only. On my way down to the jetbridge itself, you have to go 1?? floor down before you enter the jetbridge, I was pulled over for a bag inspection, which revealed nothing more than I expected to see: A book (homework, yuck), my binoculars (always useful when near airplanes) and my notepad full of aircraft registrations. Not so impressive, so the inspector turned his attention to my sisters beautybox and let me go. I entered the airplane and went straight to my seat, only stopping shortly to curse myself for not eing able to spend the extra money on a World traveler Plus or Club World seat.
I sat down in 28K, and noticed that it was a very good seat, as it was directly behind the wind, giving a great look of the entire row of flaps (I have a thing about the 777 flaps in 25/30 degree position, it just looks so awesome). The loads for the flight were in the area of 80-90%, with very few empty seats in the back of the.. erhh.. bus. Now, it is probably worth mentioning that in the seats in front of me, an elderly arab-looking couple were seated, we'll come back to them in a moment. I was a bit disappointed about the size of the PTV, and I thought it would be a mess trying to watch a movie on them, but I was positively surprised when it was switched on at 16.10 as the image was actually quite clear.
We pushed back at 16.20, with the engines being started at the same time. As we taxied out to 27L (a surprise for me, though I knew it was a probability), the safety demo was shown on the PTV, assisted by our cute looking F/A . As the cabin crew started their safety scan, looking out for seats in their upright position and fastened seatbelts, the trouble started. Apparently, the couple in the seat in front of ours spoke very poorly English, so it took the F/A quite a bit of time to make them understand that they needed to fasten their seatbelt. They did, however, get them fastened, and before long we were lining up on 27L for a rolling start. The engines spooled up, and before long we were racing past T3 and lifting off at exactly 16.39.
Then the problems started again. The bumpy takeoff apparently got the old lady in the seat in front of mine sick, so she got up straight away, and started moving towards the aisle. The F/A told her to sit down at once (keeping in mind, that during the steep initial climb, it would not have been a vise move for herself to get up in case she fell and hurt herself.) The older man, who had the aisle seat also got up, and by the look of it, it was only due to the passenger across the aisle, who held him, that he didn't fall. As the lady got into the aisle, she moved forward towards the toilet. At this point, the aircraft had gone into the accelerating stage, so the F/A was able to get up and tell the old lady to get back in her seat. However, the lady's gestures apparently made the F/A aware of what the problem was, so she was quick to get a barf bag and soon the old lady let it all away. At the same time, the cabin supervisor arrived and the F/O came on and told everyone to please remain seated with their seat belts fastened until the seatbelt lights had been switched off. The couple finally got back in their seats, and stayed there for the remainder of the flight.
We settled in at FL360, and soon dinner was served, which consisted of:
Salad with creamy pesto sauce
Chicken & rice
Smoked salmon with potatoes
Chocolate & orange cheese cake
Drinks from the bar
coffee or tea
I opted for the chicken & rice, and settled down to watch Men in Black 2. During the film, the cabin crew would do an occasional scan, making sure that everyone was ok. After MiB2 finished, I decided to take a small nap, as I didn't have any interests in the rest of the movies, so I switched over to radio and tuned into the world:wide channel and closed my eyes. About an hour later, I woke when the seat in front of me was reclined fully and thus semi-crushing my legs. Knowing that the lady in front of me spoke no English, I took a deep breath, cursed a bit (in Danish, naturally ) and decided that 1 hour would have to settle for this time. Instead, I switched over to watch the end of Bullit (classic movie ).
Soon we were coming in over New Foundland, and I could hear the engines spool up as we climbed from FL370, where we had stayed for the Atlantic crossing, to FL390. After Bullit neded, I spent the time looking at the skymap and out the window trying to identify the various places.
An hour from Newark, afternoon tea was served, which consisted of:
2 sandwiches, one with tomatoes and some 'orangeish' stuff and one with ham & cheese
1 mini roll with egg salad
1 piece of 'Ye Olde Marmalade cake'
coffee or tea
During this meal, we started our descent into a cloudy Newark, and it was not until we were well established on the downwind leg for 04R at Newark that the last few trays and cups were removed. Once again, the F/A was having trouble getting elderly couple to understand that they had to put on their seatbelts as well as placing their seats in an upright position. We remained in clouds all the way during crosswind during the final approach, and it was not until 4-500' from the ground that I was able to spot the Turnpike running on our right. We touched down on runway 04R at 18.50 local time, and after a very long rollout, we vacated the runway and taxied by the control tower (gives you some sort of idea of how much runway we used for our rollout). The clouds produced some rain, and my window was covered with it, as we pulled into stand 62 serving Terminal B's pier 2, where we were parked at 19.05
Getting off the plane was a breeze, as was immigration (probably due to the late arrival time!) even though the elderly couple was, once again, having problems as they went from booth to booth waving with all sorts of papers. Finally, a supervisor was called upon, however at that time I was already on my way to baggage claim. And lo and behold, after the crew luggage, my suitcase was the first on the carousel. Don't know what it says most about: my luck, or the fact that the 'Rapid Transfer LHR' tag hadn't worked as planned
We were soon on the AirTrain, heading for Newark Intl Station, where we hopped aboard a NJT train to Penn. Station in NY. From there we a took a cab to our hotel on West 86th/10th Ave.
Well, that's it. Or rather, that's the first part of my trip report. The second half, or; EWR-LHR-CPH will follow as soon as I have time to write it.