Hi all - I took this trip back in late December and have only just found the time to type out a trip report so apologies for the lateness of my report, and hope I can do it justice by remembering all the details!
Dec 27th 2003
Arrived at Terminal 4, Heathrow, in good time, with about 90 min before departure. Check in at Club World was very long, and I'm authorised to check in at First with special services so we went to the First counter where there was no queue. We were welcomed at checkin and our seats were allocated to us - 63A & B. We were also told that if anyone checked in to fly First that morning, we would be automatically upgraded, but if no-one was booked on First, they wouldn't be opening that cabin. However we were invited to use the First lounge in T4
if we wanted, or we could just use the Terrace lounge.
After we'd checked our bags, we wondered down to the Terrace Lounge suite, and my travel companion booked in for a massage at the Molton Brown Spa, and I settled into the First lounge for brunch. After his massage my companion joined me in the lounge for coffee and bacon sandwiches, before a member of the BA
staff came to us and informed us that our flight was ready for us and we could board at leisure. We finished our coffees and walked the 10 minute walk along T4
to where our 744 was waiting for us. There was no queue at the gate, and as the gate staff checked our boarding passes she informed us that the flight wasn't very busy and First wasn't being opened today. Boo hoo.
I walked down the jetway and was welcomed by the smiling BA
crew. He checked my boarding pass, greeted me by name and showed me upstairs to my Club World seat on the upper deck. Now having flown on the lower deck before, I was surprised to see how much more roomy the upper deck is, compared to the lower deck. Another steward took me from the top of the stairs to my seat - 63A, a backwards facing seat in the forward section. He took my coat, and I settled into my seat, making use of the stowage compartments next to the seat. At this time there was only 5 or so other pax in the cabin. My travelling companion came and joined me in 63B and a couple, who had obviously been upgraded from economy due to their excitement at being in Club on the upper deck, came and sat in the front of the cabin. The steward bought us an orange juice or water (no champagne any more? HUMPH!) and gave us our amenity kits and menus.
Not long after settling in, we were pushed back from the gate and on our way, about 10 minutes behind schedule. As we taxied, the cabin crew took our lunch choice, and I watched out of the window the planes landing on 27L. We had to cross the end of 27L from T4
, round the eastern side of the airport to hold at 27R for take off. Clearance was immediate and we made a rolling takeoff. The aircraft was obviously light as the roll was short, unlike some takeoffs on 744's heading to the far east which have lasted for ever. As ever, I enjoyed the backwards facing takeoff - just a bit different, and only feels weird on the rotate. The seats are much more reclined than forwards facing seats, so when climbing, you don't feel like you're going to be tipped out of them. Soon we were climbing through the clouds and we settled into our flight to PHL
. The crew soon wheeled out the drinks trolley and I had a glass of champagne, but no warm nuts any more? Just a packet of nuts.
Lunch was served soon after, and I chose the steak which was perfectly edible and had a nice bottle of red wine with it. I then unhooked my large video screen and tuned in to the in flight map to see where we'd got to.... however there was no picture. And still no picture. Then the crew came on to say that OMNIA had broken down and they were trying to fix it! Oh no! About half an hour later,I think the FA
's decided to peddle a bit faster and the IFE cranked itself into life. First up I watched Seabiscuit, a movie about some 3 legged donkey that won a big horse race in America, which was quite good, and then a bit of telly. After I'd seen a bit of the IFE, I had a wonder downstairs and poked my nose into First, which looked a bit lonely with no-one in it. Club downstairs was about half full as well, although I didn't see how full it was in Traveller. I definitely think that the upper deck has the advantage of the lower deck cabins, for any future 744 Club World pax reading this!
I bought some vodka and fags from the in flight duty free and returned to my seat to watch a bit of the airshow.
Soon I was feeling sleepy after all that wine and food, so decided to knock the seat back into the flat position and get some shut eye before arriving in PHL
. I slept remarkably well, considering it was daytime and the next thing I heard were the engines idling as we started to make our way back to terrafirma. We had an afternoon snack, bought round by the crew, and soon we were making our final decent into PHL
Landing was smooth as ever on the big 744 and as before, felt no different facing backwards. We then had a long taxi to the international terminal at the far end. On the way we passed such beauties as an AF330 and a US330, plus the usual array of tiny commuter things that littered the tarmac. The aircraft came to a stop outside the terminal and we were able to de-plane first whilst the rest were held in the back. I cleared immigration pretty quickly - faster than my companion who is American! and we were on our way into Philly. Yay!
Jan 5th 2004
Okay, the logic behind choosing the return flight was this: I'd rather fly on a 744 than a 772, but I want to fly on the later flight. Argh. Decisions decisions. So I reluctantly chose the 772 and later flying time, rather than the comfy 744 and an earlier flying time. Thing is I had to work the next day in the UK and I wanted a good nights kip on board, and I doubted I'd sleep much on a 6pm flight.
So we turned up at PHL
, with about 2 hours to go before departure. Again we checked in at First, and were told that we'd been invited to the First lounge. Upon arrival at the lounge, we were greeted by a nice lady who gave us a guided tour of the First facilities and asked us if we'd like to take dinner before boarding in the First restaurant. My travelling companion said he liked the look of the buffet in the Club lounge better so whilst he had some dinner in there, I had some wine and read a newspaper in the First lounge. Again we were told that we were on the upgrade list for First, but only if there was room. Soon the lady from the front desk came into the lounge, and said that the aircraft was ready and we were all invited to board at our leisure. We remained in the lounge for about 15 mins as we like to board quite late. Finally the lounge lady came and told us we had to board now as it was final call.
We made our way from the lounge, up the elevator to departures and the gate. There was still quite a large line and LOTS of security. Now this was a couple of days after all that kerfuffle over the BA
flights to Washington that caused havoc, so no chances were being taken. After having our boarding cards checked, we were taken across to a side room where all our hand luggage and our persons were again searched, very thoroughly. The process took about 30-40 mins and meant that the aircraft was quite late in departing PHL
. There was no randomness about who they searched either - they did EVERYONE!
Finally we were allowed onto the aircraft and I showed my boarding pass to the crew standing at the door. They pointed to where my seat was, but wasn't greeted by name and they didn't seem to show nearly as much interest as on the flight out. Found my seat and squeezed into it. An FA
brought round a tray of juice and water, but no menus or kits this time. It all seemed much more cramped on the 777 than on the upper deck of the 744. Again I was facing backwards but at least I was at the back of the cabin so didn't have 50 other people to look at. Still no menus, or amenity kits. As we were sitting there waiting to go I asked for a kit, and a surly member of the crew threw one over to me in my seat. I opened this to get the socks out, and noticed it was used! ewwwww! So I pressed my FA
call button to see if I could get it exchanged. We pushed back, and our engines started, and still I sat there with my call light on! Eventually someone noticed and happily exchanged the kit, and bought myself and my companion a menu. As we were taxiing I caught the attention of one of the crew and said that I didn't want dinner as I wanted to sleep. The attendant offered to make me a steak sandwich after take off which would be bought round with the pre dinner drinks...
We had a short taxi to take off and soon we were down the runway and up into the air. We climbed up above 10k feet and the belt sign went off. I popped down to the front as I was dying for the loo, and then headed back to my seat. Soon the FA
appeared with my steak sandwich, before the drinks service started! Wow - some good service! And I could see a few other pax looking at me enviously as it was quite delicious. She also bought me a glass of champagne to help it down. As soon as I was done, my tray was collected, and I popped myself a sleeping tablet to help me on my way. A few seconds later and my seat was about 70% reclined and I thought I'd doze whilst watching a bit of telly. So I unhooked the monitor and swung it around... WTF?! The screen, although in a big surround, was a tiny little 3" square thing like you get in economy. On the 744 it was a bigger 7" or so size, but on this 777 it was mini. It looked really silly as well, with about 4" of plastic all round it, and this tiny screen in the middle. Not sure what was going on there.... it just looked really OLD.
Anyway, it didn't matter that much as I was going to kip for the rest of the flight... I put my seat into the full flat position, and popped my blanked over me and settled into a semi comfortable position. Pretty soon I started to doze off, and the next think I remember is waking up, and noticing it was light outside the windows. I checked the airshow, and we were plodding steadily along just crossing the west coast of England. Not long to go then... so I moved my seat into a more upright position. I noticed that breakfast had long since been served and cleared away, so I buzzed an FA
and asked if I could get a cup of coffee, which she happily brought for me. Although a bit strong and luke warm, it hit the spot and brought me round pretty quickly...
Soon we were starting our descent into LHR
, and the captain came on to tell us about our position and how quickly we'd get a slot to land and get that all important parking place.
He said that we should be down quite quickly and only had a holding time of 15 - 20 mins, which isn't bad, considering the time of day. Before long we had our clearance into LHR
and we started our final approach to 27L. Touchdown was smooth as you like and no reverse was needed to bring the 772 in. We turned off and made the short journey to the gate at T4
. First deplaned first, and then club. Our luggage was off before we were and soon I was in my car, heading for the office, feeling quite refreshed after a good nights sleep on board BA
's club world.
Again, my main point to end on is the inconsistency of service. Outbound was faultless, and excellent. Inbound was pretty ropey, considering the fare paid to fly in Club. Maybe they just don't care as much on the return night flights. Just goes to show you never know what kind of service you'll be getting.
Thanks for reading... any comments questions I'll do my best to respond.