This is the second trip I have taken all the way to Croatia on BA, connecting through (where else) LHR.
Saturday, 24 May.
Seat 10A Club World
I cabbed it from my home in western Loudoun county to Dulles, about 209 miles from my home. Arrived at IAD around 6:00, well in advance of the scheduled 8:00 departure. A friend my mine who has BA connections had arranged an upgrade from WT+ to Club, and I was given the seat 10A with no questions asked!
I headed to the Terminal B lounge for First and Club passengers. A nice, understated facility. Divided between the two classes, I did not notice much difference. I watched the AA "red-eye" flight from LA pull into the gate just outside the window. I also saw a US Airforce 757 land and park by itself in an area south of the terminals. It appeared to be the plane that VP Cheney or Sec. Powell uses for travel. But I wondered why it landed at IAD and not Andrews AFB. Boarding for my flight commenced at around 7:20 ahoy I was surprised to see this great looking 777 outfitted with the old Club "Cradle" seats, and no WT+ section. Not a problem for me. The bird was about 80% full, and we pushed back right on time.
Takeoff into overcast skies was smooth and powerful. From my window seat, I looked right out onto to engine No. 1, a beautiful RR Trent. So quiet, also! WE made a quick right turn off from RW 30, and we were off. I happily accepted the offer of a "Buck's Fizz" and then enjoyed a traditional "English breakfast" of steak, sausage, potatoes, and tomato. The meal service also included fresh berries and yogurt.
The cruise was uneventful. I watched the latest "Star Trek" film, "Nemesis," the perfect movie for an airplane trip. I tried to sleep but could not. I tuned in the flight tracker map. We hit some fairly heavy chop approaching the coast of Ireland. The second meal service was a tasty sandwich, washed down with a Grolsche beer. BTW, there was no "Raid the Larder" option on the flight. I mentioned this in the customer satisfaction survey I was asked to complete.
We landed straight in on 27L, and parked at the stand between T4 and the big BA hanger. HM Customs and immigration at 8:00 pooh at T4 was a breeze, and I was off for a nights' rest at the T4 Hilton.
Sunday, 25 May
EuroTraveler seat 19A
I had checked in for my Zagreb flight the morning before at Dulles. Good thin I did, as T1 was a madhouse of lines and commotion. Getting through security was an adventure. I think that some day soon we will simply have to strip naked to get through these checks. But credit to BAA (or whomever) for running a good security operation.
The bird was a clean A319. Very nice dark blue leather seats. Last year, it had been a 734. The flight was completely full. Takeoff from 27L was quick, no waiting. The inflight meal service was the "All Day Deli," and I had a (cold) egg and bacon sandwich. It was cloudy most of the way to ZAG until we were over the Alps. Landing at ZAG was quick. Zagreb is a small airport, and you will never have to circle to wait for a landing slot. One interesting feature: we deplaned from the front and rear doors, down stairs to waiting buses. Nema problema!
Sunday, 1 June
EuroTravelor seat 5A
After a week on an island in the beautiful Adriatic, it was time to head home. The check-in lady insisted that I check my overnight bag, since the flight was full. Okay, but I thought it might complicate my plans to try and switch my return flight from #225 to #001, the Concorde service to JFK. In any event, we loaded up, taxied out, and we were up, up, and away in no time. The flight, again, was full (BA runs the Zagreb service only 4X per week, even in summer).
For lunch I enjoyed a grilled vegetable sandwich, washed with a French chardonnay. Not bad. No duty free, thanks. The trip was great, and the view below was fantastic, except for the clouds that appeared over the channel. Again landing on 27L. We parked at the section of T1 that is newer and mostly glass, passing an El Al 777, Air Malta, and others. LHR is truly the best spotting airport in the world.
Between flights, I headed to T4 and tried for an yoghurt to Concorde. No dice, the flight was oversold. But I did get the chance to meet a new friend who works in BA Concorde maintenance. He regaled me with some great stories about the Concorde programme. I also did get to see #002 arrive from JFK. What a beautiful bird; I will be sorry to see her go away.
Sunday, 1 June
World Traveler Plus Seat 21A
I was alone on the bulkhead for the trip home. The bird, with GE90 powerplants, was about 75% full, a bit of a surprise given that it was a Sunday evening departure. I noticed that Club was quite full, and one gent (a newcomer, I suppose) was concerned about: "Hey, this seat is facing backwards!"
We lined up for takeoff between a Cathay 744 (that trip to Hong Kong must be a real ass flattener), an AA 777, and behind it a Japan Airlines 744. The first thing I did was load all of my UK coins into the charity envelope. A good cause.
The takeoff was of course smooth and powerful. The 777 is a remarkable aircraft, with both engines putting out so much thrust. The climb was quick, per the flight tracker map. Our cruise altitude was at 38,000 feet. Meal service began about 45 minutes after takeoff. The best part about WT+ is that you get served first in the economy section. I had beer, and then "braised beef tips." Very tasty.
After eating, I tried to rest, but could not. The film choices were "The Pianist," and a romantic comedy starring two people I had not seen before. I think the blonde is Goldie Hawn's daughter. Anyway, a somewhat amusing affair. I just could not sit through another Holocaust movie.
Once approaching Newfoundland, we hit fairly heavy chop. The captain took us down from FL 38 to FL 36, and we smoothed out for a while. Later, we climbed up to FL 41, as we were passing over a big storm front. We got bounced around pretty well for about 15 minutes. One lady even shouted out in fear! No worries lady!
The second meal service was some finger sandwiches. I was pleased that the FAs came through at several points offering water and juice. Staying hydrated is by far the best way to avoid fatigue on long air trips. We raced down from the tip of North America, and turned to line up for a smooth landing on RW 19L at Dulles.
One final note: Two BA service reps met the plane. On the mobile lounge to US customs and immigration, they explained the procedures in detail for the uniformed. They also were on hand to direct the lines for immigration, and answer baggage questions. Well done, BA!