The flight was my second long haul flight, although it was really fast over. I spend 2 weeks in Florida for vacation. One important reason to choose Florida as my holiday destination was the opportunity to fly long haul. After a brief research via internet we (I was accompanied by my brother) decided to fly with BA. BA had the best offer from TXL to MIA (ONLY 364 € for a return flight), furthermore my brother was already an Executive Club member.
I didn’t write a trip report for the flight to MIA, because I haven’t made any notes, therefore my memories aren’t the best.
After we had returned our nice car to Alamo, we took the Alamo bus shuttle to Miami International (those bus shuttles can be a freezing experience). We had to wait about 30 minutes prior check-in. At the check-in desk I asked whether we can get bulkhead seats (I’m 6’3’’ therefore the flight to MIA in a standard y-class seat wasn’t a comfortable experience). The ground crew on the check-in desk had to make a call to get seats in an exit row available. Finally we got seat 28 H and 28 J. After the standard security procedure (I don’t think that the security checks are as firm as often stated) we had many time to explore concourse A. I missed the mass of shops you can find in LHR. So I spend most of the time in MIA reading or with my binoculars watching take offs. You can see dozens of AA aircrafts in MIA but also some international like LAN 767, AF 744 and Swiss 330… I also watched the flight prep of G-CIVC and the first moments of her slow climb.
Carrier: British Airways
Aircraft: Boeing 747-436 G-CIVK
Date: 17-03-04 to18-03-04
Take off: 21:25
Load factor: 100 % (but I’m not completely sure about the upper deck)
Photo © Ryan Kaskel
Photo © Norbert Genci
With about 1 hour delay due to strong headwinds our 747-436 coming from LHR landed shortly after 7 pm in MIA. While we waited to board the Jumbo the fire alarm ringed constantly (more than 1 hour of fire alarm was really nerving) but nobody cared about it. Finally at 8:40 pm (10 min after the scheduled departure) the boarding began. When I reached my seat, (28J) I felt like I had won the jackpot. Only my brother beside me and more legroom than I could use (and I need much).
Photo © Ben Pritchard
About to taxi my brother asked a f/a about the registration of the a/c. Although my brother said that he didn’t need it immediately the f/a went at once (that’s what I call a professional attitude) to the tail, where you can find the registration in BA’s Jumbos. He wrote G-CIVK on the back of my “Spiegel”. Hence we knew it was one of BA’s newer 744s. On the long taxiway I could watch some take offs of other a/c. I was astonished as the announcements were made in English (of course), Spain, Dutch, German and French. The German was quite good, even better then on the most BA flights between TXL and the UK – I guess the f/a was Dutch (at least because of her name).
The pilot increased the engine power before we came to full stop on the threshold and the fun could start. It took some long moments until we rotated. While in ascent I could see Miami Downtown and Miami Beach at night. It was an impressive view.
For dinner we had to choose between pasta and chicken. This was hard for me, because I liked the chicken on the flight to MIA, but I am a pasta fan, too. So I asked “what is served with the pasta and what with the chicken?”. I chose the chicken curry which was quite good especially the vegetable salad, instead of the sea-fruit pasta. While we ate we had some little turbulence, so the seat-belt sign came on. After I finished the dinner and the good night film ended (my decision for Matrix Revolutions wasn’t really good) I tried to find some sleep. Although I could stretch my legs as long as they are and I used some ear plugs, I could hardly sleep (I guess that I have to lie flat to sleep). Once again awake at 6:45 GMT, I watched on the in-flight map (I love this feature) and saw that we had a ground speed of 1172 km per hour due to strong tailwinds of 260 km/h.
Around 80 minutes prior landing we got a “all day deli” breakfast over the Irish Sea , which consisted of unsweetened yogurt, a roll and some cake (I think it was cheesecake). It was o.k.. The clouds were very low, so I couldn’t see the ground for some time after the flaps were fully deployed. The landing a few minutes after 9:30 am was smooth. Because of our fast flight, we had to wait about 10-15 minutes until G-CIVC (the same Jumbo which departed in MIA prior our Speedbird heavy) left our gate again outbound to MIA.
Photo © Alastair T. Gardiner
We had over 5 hours to wait in LHR (the long stopover was a disadvantage of our minimum buck flight). I was too wearied to enjoy this. I slept a little bit, strolled through the shops and went to Terminal 2, which I hadn’t visited before.
The gate should have closed at 15:10, but at this time the gate wasn’t already announced. Finally at 15:30 the gate was shown on the screens. I think it was gate 46. As usual at LHR we had to go a good distance before we reached the gate.
It was a nice surprise for me to see an A320-111 and not an A319-131. My first flight was on such a BA 320-111 (I don’t fly very often but I had twice the luck to fly with this rare bird).
After the first people had boarded the boarding was halted for awhile. The f/o later explained that they had problems to attach the electrical connexion from the terminal to our Airbus.
Carrier: British Airways
Aircraft: Airbus 320-111 G-BUSE
Take off: 16:05
Load factor: > 90 %
Photo © Alexander Jonsson
My seat was 25 E. I still wonder whether this rare BA 320s provide more legroom in coach than the BA 319s and even the 744s. Although the A320 are not as noisy behind the engine as the 737 NGs, I enjoyed the powerful sound of the CFMs. We had good crosswinds, thus the take off was quite shaky. The westbound ascent took as long time as ever.
Because it was teatime we got a piece of cake. I opted for the apple-pie (the same sort as on my last flight to LHR 2 weeks before). The flight was pretty fast over. I was a little bit nervous about the mobile phone of a passenger some seats away from me which ringed while we taxied to the runway though. The passenger seemed to me pretty unable to switch it off.
We landed on 26L or 26R – I can’t remember. But I remember that the announcement, that the crew wished the passengers with flight connexions a good journey made me laugh.
Finally I was glad to be back at my home airport and only 30 taxi-minutes away from my home (especially from my bed, after 29 hours with all in all 1 hour of sleep).
Photo © Mario Aurich
As nearly ever it was a very good flight experience with BA. Especially that on this BA flights I feet like a welcomed customer. It was my second flight with a Jumbo and I liked it very much. But I was glad that I wasn’t squeezed into a standard BA coach seat – thanx to the friendly ground-staff at MIA. The short hop from LHR to TXL on the A 320 was also quite good. I liked both Speedbirds.