Business took me to London for two days. I booked an e-ticket on BA's website, after attempts to book with KL and BD failed. KL's website crashed twice, after that I didn't try again. BD's website told me that I needed a credit card with an English billing address instead of a Dutch billing address, and told me that I needed to buy a paper ticket by phone. No way
So I ended up flying BA for the first time in five years. It was a great experience!
Carrier: British Airways
From: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
To: London Heathrow (LHR)
Flight Number: BA431
Departure gate: D8
Aircraft Type: Airbus A319
Scheduled/Actual time departure: 11:55/11:55
Scheduled/Actual time arrival: 12:15/12:13
I arrived at Schiphol at 09:45 because I wanted to secure a window seat and do some spotting. I first went to BA's ticket office to pick up a receipt for my e-ticket and then walked to the check-in machines. I always prefer using self check-in, because the machines show the complete seating chart and let you pick the best available seat
I selected 7F and pressed "Print". The machine started printing... but no boarding card came out. I walked to the counter and informed them about my problem. One of the BA employees walked with me to the machine, opened it with a key, and handed me my boarding card that had been stuck somewhere inside. So far so good!
I passed passport control and security and had a late breakfast in one of the restaurants. It always amazed me how much money they charge for such lousy food! After that, I walked to the gate, D8. It was an hour before departure but I was the first passenger to arrive. The aircraft hadn't arrived yet. There were four (!) BA employees behind the desk, talking about their new mobile phones and showing them to each other. At one point, they were even calling each other to demonstrate ring tones. Duh! At 11:15, the Airbus 319 pulled up to the gate. After a very quick turnaround, boarding started five minutes late at 11:30. The plane was very empty, only 35 passengers were joining me on the flight to LHR.
I was impressed by the interior. The plane looked brand new, the seats were all leather and very clean. There were overhead monitors on which the safety video was shown, and during the flight the flight information systems was shown. KL does not have monitors on European flights, except when you are lucky and get the 767 - for example on the 8:25 departure to LHR.
We pushed back from the gate on schedule at 11:55. The captain welcomed everybody on board and informed us of the 44 minute flight time. Since we were going to be first in line for departure, he estimated arrival at LHR at 11:45 - 30 minutes early. (There is a one hour time change between AMS and LHR). We took off from runway 24 at noon, passed Hoofddorp, Nieuw Vennep, Leiden and then passed the Dutch coastline. The cabin crew started serving lunch. In businessclass, a salad was served. In cattle, we got the famous 'All Day Deli' bag which contained a chicken sandwich. I order orange juice to go with it. The sandwich tasted like it had been lying around 'All Day', but hey... when you are used to KL's peanuts, you shouldn't complain when you get a real meal!
At 11:30 the captain informed us that he had some 'bad news'. Traffic into London had been slowed down because of heavy rainfall, and we were being directed to a holding pattern. Instead of arriving 30 minutes early at 11:45, he now told us we would arrive on schedule at 12:15. We circled for about 30 minutes, somewhere to the northeast of downtown London. After 4 circles, the seatbelt sign came on - and the captain announced that we were about to land. We landed at 12:10. At 12:15 the aircraft was parked in a remote location. We deplaned by stairs and busses dropped us of at Terminal 4.
Carrier: British Airways
From: London Heathrow (LHR)
To: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Flight Number: BA438
Departure gate: 4
Aircraft Type: Airbus A319
Scheduled/Actual time departure: 13:30/13:24
Scheduled/Actual time arrival: 15:40/15:33
This is going to be a short report, since the return flight was exactly the same as the flight I took to LHR. I arrived at LHR at 11:30, checked in at the machine and selected seat 10A. The line for security was very long, it took me nearly 30 minutes to pass into the departures lounge. Boarding started on time at 13:00. We were bussed to the aircraft. The plane pushed back early, at 13:24. It lasted nearly 20 minutes before it was our turn for take off, and we departed to the west. The 'All Day Deli' bag contained a cheese sandwich, and this time I chose apple juice
Landing at AMS was at 15:27, after a short 41 minute flight. At 15:33 the aircraft was parked at the gate, 7 minutes before schedule.
Conclusion: BA is a great airline, their service is excellent, the aircraft look very new, clean and the seats are comfortable. There was plenty of legroom. Being served a meal on such a short flight is more then other airlines on this route can say. KL serves only peanuts, even on the early morning flights... And I really enjoyed the monitors with the flight tracking system!