Depart Boston-Logan: 20:25
Arrive London-Heathrow: 08:05
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER (G-YMMM)
Photo © Jason Taperell
Photo © Miguel Snoep
Having only one more week of vacation for the rest of the year, I decided to use my week and go to Paris to visit a friend. After working out the details, I made my plans and decided on my dates as I would be travelling stand-by. I decided on this flight, BA214 connecting to BA306 in London.
I arrived at Logan around 18:00 for my flight as I knew this would be a slow time to check in. I was right. After queuing for only a few minutes I was checked in. I then went back and left my new shift bid with my manager who let me go up to our Terraces lounge (In Boston, British Airways has two lounges, First and Terraces). I went up and talked to my colleague and had something to eat. I then changed my money and went to the gate. I chatted with my colleagues for a while, still not having a seat. My supervisor onloaded me and gave my a seat, a nice seat, seat 10A, Club World, first row. This was going to be a nice flight. We pushed back a little early and taxied out to runway 33L. We were first in line for take-off so after some planes landed we took off toward the northwest. Due to my seat I had a nice view of the city. We turned south then east and flew off over the Atlantic towards Halifax, Nova Scotia. We levelled off first at 36.000 feet before eventually climbing to FL390. As I had eaten in the lounge I opted for the Goodnight Express meal service instead of the full dinner. Club wasn’t that full that night so the service was nice and expedient. I had a pasta with a small salad and some Irish chocolates with a glass of white wine. It was very good. After that I settled in and relaxed. I began to watch the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”, which I had started watching the night before at a friend’s place, and now was determined to finish it, even if it was a “clean” version for family friendliness. We flew over Nova Scotia and then off the Canadian coast out over the North Atlantic. With about 2 hours left in the flight, I finally decided to try and get some sleep as I knew my first day in Paris was going to be long. It was then that I discovered the beauty of the flat bed. It was a little too short for me (I’m 6'2"), but very nice. I woke up some time later over the extreme southern part of Ireland. We overflew Cork and then over the Irish Sea. It was around now that we got breakfast, which started with coffee, orange juice, some fresh fruit slices and a bacon roll. It was quite good.
With breakfast halfway through we began our descent into London. We flew south of the city and airport before entering a hold pattern for a few minutes. After that we exited the hold and flew south of London before making a nice smooth landing onto Runway 27R. As we landed on the north runway, it was a decently lengthy taxi to Terminal 4, but I got to see several United and American 777s, as well as an array of European carriers. But, the coup de grâce was the Virgin A340-600. We taxied up to the gate and as there were no passengers in First tonight I was the second passenger off the plane. This helped me immensely as because I’m an employee I cannot through check my bag. I needed to go to baggage reclaim and then check-in again. I only had an hour and due to the lengthy taxi and then having to be tugged to the gate, I had roughly 1 hour and fifteen minutes to complete all this.
24 March 2003
Depart London-Heathrow: 09:15
Arrive Paris-Charles de Gaulle: 11:30
Aircraft: Airbus A319-100 (G-EUOD)
Photo © Chris Sheldon
Photo © Johan Kellerman
What happened next can only be described as a traveller’s dream. I passed through the Fast Track lane at immigration in Heathrow only to get down to the baggage carousel just as my bag was coming off. I got upstairs and checked-in for the flight. I got my stand-by pass and went through security to gate 1c where the flight was already boarding. I didn’t have to wait too long before I had my seat, 10F, a window seat in the last row of Club Europe on this flight. Quelle chance! The plane left a few minutes after I got on board and we made a quick taxi out to the end of Runway 27L. We taxied past all of Terminal 4, including G-YMMM, the 777 that had just transported me from Boston. After waiting for a Lufthansa A300 to depart, we were off. We made a long take off run (the flight was full) but the plane rocketed into the air. Shortly after getting airborne we made a turn to the south-southeast over Brighton and then across La Manche (English Channel). On board the flight attendants passed out English and French newspapers and then shortly after take-off a breakfast service commenced comprising a sausage, as well as eggs with bacon and juice and coffee. It was quite good. We flew north of Paris before turning to the East and making a nice smooth approach and landing to Runway 27L. We landed and made a short taxi to our gate, 54, in Satellite 5. I exited the plane and walked out into the main terminal. I got to baggage claim and had to wait all of about 3 minutes before my bag became the first onto the belt. I exited customs and met my friend and went to his place near Fontainebleau.
30 March 2003
Depart Paris-Charles de Gaulle: 13:40
Arrive: London-Heathrow: 14:00
Aircraft: Airbus A319-100 (G-EUPP)
Photo © Matthew Willmott-Sharp
Photo © Colin K. Work
I arrived at de Gaulle Aérogare 1 at 12:00 on the dot. I would have been there sooner except my friend took a wrong turn. I went to the check-in desk and was checked in by Stéphane, a nice guy who loves to interject the word “alors” into the English language. I checked in and went to the Satellite, once again, number 5. Paris has an interesting feature. They have a desk for stand-by passengers to give their boarding cards to. So, I gave the woman my boarding card and waited for boarding. The A319 jaunted up to the gate. Boarding began on-time and I got my seat, 13F, a window in the middle of Euro Traveller. However, we continued to sit there until the First Officer told us that they were having a problem closing the door to the baggage hold. Engineering finally got it closed and we got underway with a delay. We took off from Runway 9R after a Cathay Pacific 747-400 and several Air France aircraft. We turned to the north-northwest after take off and headed out over Channel. On this flight the All Day Deli was served with a small roll-up sandwich and a drink. We came into the Metropolitan London area from the southeast and turned to the West passing south of the city and of Heathrow before making a large turn and coming in for a landing on 9L, once again, on the Northern runway. We, again, made a nice long taxi to Terminal 4 and came to the stand at gate 16 next to an A320.
30 March 2003
Depart London-Heathrow: 19:00
Arrive Boston-Logan: 20:15
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER (G-VIIY)
Photo © Jason Taperell
Photo © Vasco Garcia
Remember how I told you that they had trouble closing the baggage hold door in Paris? Well, as luck would have it, this time they couldn’t open it!!! After being queued up for immigration for about 10 minutes, I expected that it would be a simple process of getting my bag and checking in as the delay had tightened my connection for the BA215 which departs LHR at 16:30. Finally an announcement saying that there was a technical difficulty (which is so many words said they couldn’t open the door) and that our bags would be out soon. It took about 20 minutes or so. At this point, I didn’t just want to rush onto another plane, so I decided to hang-out at LHR for a while and take the BA239 which would get my in later, but whatever, I’d get to see T4 and add a GE-type 777 to my repertoire (my flight over had RR engines). I waited for the counters to be displayed on the monitor, I also changed some money as I knew I was going to need to eat. When the counters opened for the flight, I went over only to find out that T4 has a Staff Travel check-in office. I walked over to the Staff Travel office, and checked-in. They were even able to give me a seat, 22A, a window seat in World Traveller Plus! I was quite happy with that as I had wanted to try the WT+ product.
I milled around the airport for a while and headed to the gate, which was 2, around 18:00. Boarding began around 18:25 and we pushed back around 18:55. We taxied out and after a short queue we made a powerful take-off from Runway 9R. And so ended my week on European soil. We turned to the south and then west-northwest out over Southern England across the Irish Sea, south of Dublin and then across the Dingle Peninsula before making a sort of step pattern across the Atlantic by flying east, then southeast then east again. Dinner was served on this flight. I had braised beef with carrots and green beans, salad and a chocolate mousse with puffs and red wine and tea. It was very nice. I watched the movie "Analyse That" and then fell asleep for a while. I woke up to the sound of what appeared to be a mal-functioning engine. It turned out that one of the airconditioning systems was not working correctly and that was what was causing the problem. I later talked to one of my colleagues on the ground and they said that we were thinking of diverting to Halifax at one point! But we pressed on and soon began approaching Boston after another snack consisting of a couple of sandwiches. We began our descent about 30 minutes from landing. We came in and just west of the city were turned south before turning around and making a landing onto Runway 4R just about on time. It was rather stormy in Boston and I longed for the rose-coloured, warm Spring days of Paris.