Photo © Florian Kondziela
Concorde again to New York so soon after my last trip?
Yes, but taking advantage of the August 'Hotline' offer which included a £950 for Concorde and World Traveller Plus flights was too good to miss, and this time those who don't work for BA have a chance for an affordable trip on Concorde, plus of course a chance to do New York.
Checking in we got seats in row 19, in the rear cabin, getting to the BA Concorde/First Class lounge there was not an aircraft on the stand, but 20 minutes later G-BOAD arrived, so excitement mounted, I was also pleased as I've not been on G-BOAD yet.
Shortly afterwards the standby (G-BOAE) arrived on the adjoining stand.
Boarding at 10:10 we got our seats, it looked to be a busy flight, reassuring as that's what pays my wages.
The flight crew consisted of Captain Douglas, First Officer Walden and the Flight Engineer was Liam Cooper.
Capt. Douglas gave the usual quick guide to what would happen during take-off, from the start of the take-off run to disengaging reheat would be 76 seconds.
Pushback was a little late at 10:37, it was a busy flight and some passengers got on at the last minute which probably accounted for the delay.
Take off was to the west on the Northern runway, even on this my fifth Concorde flight, the roar of the reheats and rapid acceleration is a wonderful experience, for first timers it's out of this world.
At 11:02 we were airborne, the weather was very wet and windy but 13 minutes after the start of the roll we were at our subsonic cruising speed and height, Mach 0.95 at 26000 feet.
Just 6 minutes later the supersonic acceleration began, even in the rear cabin you could barely feel the reheats being engaged, of course going through the sound barrier is not noticeable, save for the displays on the Marilake screens on the bulkheads.
Mach 1 was attained just 20 minutes after the take off.
Now the climb and the so rapid acceleration, half an hour after our flight began we hit 1000 m.p.h. and the crew are handing out pre-ordered drinks and canapes.
Mach 2 is reached about 20 minutes later, and the starters are being served, salmon with caviar.
A similar main choice as my flight in September, again I had the brunch, other options include a salad laced with truffles.
For dessert I had a Brullie.
The wine choices include red and white vintages from 10 and 15 years ago, and Winston Churchill's favourite champagne! Plus the 1978 vintage port.
Some orthodox Jewish passengers in the row behind us had special kosher meals.
The crew were attentive and efficient on this busy flight and at 2 hours 20 mins into the flight we reached 58000 feet, the top of descent, the speed reaching 1290 m.p.h. (a bit sluggish for Concorde!)
The curve of the earth was clearly visible at this point but at 3 hours into the flight we began the rapid descent. The deceleration was rapid too, 186 mins into the flight we are again subsonic.
No stacking into JFK, and we land 3 hours and 29 mins after leaving London, 70 minutes before we left.
Flying Concorde gets you into the Fast Track at LHR, and this time I was not subject to the searches I encountered last time, but some pax were. Sign of the times.
During the flight, we spotted an infant child in the forward cabin, probably row 1, we didn't think anything of it until we were waiting at the baggage carousel at JFK. Then we saw that Liz Hurley was standing next to us, along with a personal assistant who was helping the actress with her baby!
Straight into a cab at JFK Terminal 7, we reach the Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington Avenue an hour after landing.
Fantastic, amazing, miraculous, you can get addicted to this sort of thing!
Photo © Carlos Borda
BA178 G-BNLT 10th November
This should be interesting, I've not seen what BA's World Traveller Plus is like.
The BA178 was chosen as it's the first subsonic BA flight out of JFK and avoids my aversion to long-haul night flights, plus who wants to check out and have a day in limbo?
(My friends and I are not plane spotters so waiting around at JFK is not an attraction).
We get seat row 29, the WTP cabin is not large, but I'm impressed, legroom is good and a light, airy cabin in general.
First and Club World look very impressive indeed as we pass through it, it's what BA does best, but time to sample WTP, a good innovation or an unsatisfactory compromise?
Take is on time a 9:00, the Captain is optimistic that we'll be in London 30-45 mins ahead of the scheduled time of 21:00.
Though I'm not involved with wide bodies at BA, I well remember the horror stories about the unreliability of the Rockwell-Collins Optima I.F.E. system.
Well they seem to have really ironed them out now, it's a terrific system, though I'm new to PTV's on aircraft, my last long-haul flights on BA to Hong Kong and back in September 1998 (in the not good World Traveller that pre-dated PTV's).
I had a very satisfactory chicken and veg, with a banana and strawberry yogurt, a small fruitcake and though the rolls were not warm like on Concorde, the butter was not rock hard either.
The flight whizzed by, helped by the PTV's (I watched the funny film adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel 'About A Boy', as well as tracking our progress, with both the map a flight info, which goes around in a cycle lasting about a minute).
Also, reading the new Iain Banks novel 'Dead Air' helped pass the time.
I didn't notice any booze being served, which does not bother me, though the crew were fairly frequent with water and juice.
Later a roll and cake, with tea or coffee was served. The crew were professional and attentive.
The queue at check in was not too bad, the flight was busy and one group had made an issue of being seated apart, (though very close to each other in the WTP cabin).
Six hours into the flight the Captain said we could face a 20 minute hold, plus we may not have a stand allocated on landing.
In the event, the hold lasted just 10 minutes, we were circling southwest of the airport, having followed the M4 motorway across England.
We landed at 20:36 local time, so we were still ahead of schedule, and we had a short taxi to our stand.
Disembarking was fairly quick too, so a good result.
Admittedly we had not paid the full price, but I was impressed with World Traveller Plus.
Not much went right during the Alying era at BA, WTP was the exception, it was developed from customer surveys which were more concerned with legroom than food.
Oh, and New York was terrific, if I had to live for any amount of time outside the UK in would be in the Big Apple.
Photo © Chris Sheldon