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Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Mon Aug 09, 2004 5:46 am

All right, well this trip report is brought to us courtesy of my summer vacation to London to see some sites, relax and visit some family. I was hoping to get started with some flying lessons as some people on here already know, but my employment situation (having no job) meant that I had to think of a less expensive way to enjoy myself this summer. And if you’re going cheap, flying lessons aren’t for you.

This is Part One of the series of 4 reports that I should be writing after my vacation.

Part One – YYZ-LHR [BA0096]
Part Two – LHR-YYZ [BA0097]
Part Three – LGW-GIB [BA6902]
Part Four – GIB-LGW [BA6907]

They’re a little out of order, but I’d prefer to finish up one flight before starting on another.


Date: June 25th 2004.
Departure Airport: Toronto Pearson International (YYZ) Terminal 3
Arrival Airport: London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 4
Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA0096
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-200
Registration: G-YMMK
Scheduled Departure Time: 22:00
Actual Departure Time: 22:20
Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:05
Actual Arrival Time: 09:25

Early May - {Background}

Well, to begin with, I purchased these tickets in about May, which made them slightly more expensive than I would have liked, nearly $1200CAD, but still an alright deal none the less. Anyways, originally, I was assigned seat 32K on the departure leg, which was just fine, as nice window seat will keep me happy for 7-8 hours. However, I wasn’t impressed at all with the seat that I had been assigned on the return leg, 36E, which was in the middle of the center 3. Not only did I not have a window seat, it wasn’t even close to a window (actually 36E is far away from the window as I could possibly sit), and it wasn’t an aisle. I decided to log onto BA’s website to try and rectify the situation long before my departure date. When I logged on I found a wealth of information about my flight, I could check to see that my flight (and all other flights) were on time, or if they were delayed or cancelled. I could also request specials meals, consult seating charts, check-in online and even see what movies would be playing on the IFE the night of my flight. Very handy. Well done BA. Anyways, when I attempted to change my seat online in about mid-May I found that the best I could do was change 36E to 36H, which was at least and aisle. I took it.

June 25th 2004 – 22:00 – {Check-In}

Since I’m an ‘Executive Club Member’ (which I’m pretty sure is free and is open to absolutely everyone) I am able to use the online check-in for British Airways up to 24 hours before my scheduled departure, as opposed to the normal 12 hours for all other travellers. This was good, as I would be able to get a 12 hour jump on many passengers as far as snagging the good seats went. So, as 22:00 on June 25th approached I sat poised over my computer with my ticket (a piece of paper that I printed myself) and waited until precisely 22:00. As the clock struck I made my move, I simply entered my pin and my board point and then cycled through the menus. I then selected the ‘change seat’ option an was not surprised to see that many seats were available to choose from, as I was surely one of the first people to check-in. I selected 26A, which was a window seat and a bulkhead, meaning that I would have plenty of extra legroom for the flight. Everything was shaping up quite nicely. I printed my ‘boarding pass’ and then hit the sack.

June 26th, 2004 – 14:00 – {Luggage}

With my seating and check-in already taken care of, all that I had to worry about was dropping off my luggage and showing up for the flight. I decided to dump my luggage early so I wouldn’t be caught in the lineup, and my printed boarding pass from the night before also told me that since I was already checked-in I could use BA’s Club World and First desks to drop my luggage. I arrived at the T3 parking garage around 14:15 with my dad and after parking the car on the roof we proceeded down the elevator, across the street and into a pretty empty Terminal 3.

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Photo © Felix Sieder
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Photo © Grant Feggi

The BA desks were a short walk from the entrance and we entered a rather short line of passengers who were already waiting to be served on that sunny June day. Everything was nice and clean and I was surprised at the overall emptiness of the terminal. As we stood in line, the BA agents sure took their time getting everything ready for desks that were supposed to open around 14:00 or 14:30. Finally, the first of the desks opened at around 14:45 and passengers began to check-in and drop off bags. There was a bit of a mix up though, as there were passengers being called up by the first class desk-agent to the desk, before being told that they couldn’t be served there (as they hadn’t checked-in online or weren’t first class passengers) and being sent to the back of the line. This I thought was kind of silly and poorly organized on BA’s part. It also ticked off a few passengers who, through the good manners of other passengers in the line were allowed another chance at checking-in and didn’t have to head towards the back of the line. This was short lived however, as not long after a few passengers for the first class desk showed up and the chap there was tied up making conversation in German. I was served around 14:55 and my 2 bags were quickly tagged and I was issued a proper boarding card. We left the airport around 15:05 just as it was beginning to fill up. The parking for the 45 minutes cost us $2.25 and we were back home by about 15:50.


I spend the rest of the time packing my carry on and then at around 17:30 some friends and myself went out to dinner. After that I returned home to collect my documents and my carry-on and was off to the airport at around 20:00. We arrived in good time, around 20:30. I said my goodbyes and then made my way into the slightly busier Pearson just as the sun was setting. I wandered through some shops on my way to the Security area and when I arrived I was surprised to find absolutely no line. I went through without a ‘beep’ and they didn’t give my overweight backpack full of electronics and books a second look. I then made my way to C29 and arrived around 20:45. I took my time to examine our aircraft, a Boeing 777-200 registered G-YMMK, which interestingly enough sported the English Football badge/livery.

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Also waiting nearby was a Sunquest A330 and a LOT 767. At 20:55 I was paged to the British Airways desk. My heart started to race as I thought that I would loose my bulkhead/window seat and be relegated to the loo for the duration of the flight. However, when I arrived I was informed, to my great surprise, that I had been bumped up to World Traveller Plus, or, as the gate agent dumbed it down for me, ‘a nicer seat with a wee bit more leg room’. Either way, I was thankful, as I had never flow in anything other than outright economy. I was quite happy to be in row 21, but then realized after sitting down that I had been shifted a little to the left, seat 21G. I would have to forfeit my window in order to experience World Traveller Plus. Oh well, it could have been much, much worse.

At around 21:30 it was announced that there would be a short delay as our aircraft hadn’t yet been fully cleaned and that boarding could be expected in about 10 minutes. At 21:45 boarding began from the back and of course this meant that everyone except for about 8 people darted towards the counters with tickets and passports in hand. I waited until the very end and then, after having my passport checked by a smiley BA agent, I made my way down the jet way and onto the aircraft. I cut through the galley forward of the Club World section and then made my way down into the World Traveller Plus cabin. I stowed my backpack in the overhead compartment, which I had to myself, and then took my aisle seat beside a slightly overweight woman, who I ended up helping do everything from explaining the seatbelt to changing the channel.

{The Flight}

I still had my bulkhead seat, which was nice as it added to the ample legroom that I already enjoyed in World Traveller Plus, but I also noticed the slightly wider seats. The flight attendants seemed busy and shortly afterwards opened the slats in the bulkhead between our cabin and that of the Club World passengers. The flight attendants seemed a bit cool towards the passengers, as I didn't hear any ‘hello’ or ‘welcome aboard’ as they passed out newpapers prior to the flight. They also seemed impatient, even with elderly passengers who were taking their time / having difficulties stowing their belongings in the overhead compartments. After a few minutes we had an announcement from the cabin welcoming us aboard and giving us the weather en route, which was expected to be excellent. We took off at 20:20, 20 minutes late, in an easterly direction over Lake Ontario.

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Photo © Will Lanting
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Photo © Ben Pritchard

We climbed quickly and after a few minutes we passed through 10,000 feet after which the seatbelt signs were switched off with a satisfying ‘bing’. Drinks were served along with those trademark British Airways salty malt vinegar little snack pretzels. I had my little can of Ginger Ale and struggled to see out the window that was being occupied by a young Russian guy who was typing away on his laptop with his feet on the wall in front of him.

After a little bit of turbulence, which quickly subsided, we reached our cruising altitude of 37,000 feet. Dinner was served at 23:15, just west of Montreal, with the choices being Chicken or Salmon. The food wasn’t too bad, although the chicken was a bit mushy and some of the potatoes were severely undercooked. Since I didn’t have a window seat, I resorted to using the PTV IFE system and decided to watch ‘The Girl Next Door’. The only complaint I had about that was the fact that inevitably either the system will jam and need to be re-set, or you will get a god-awful set of headphones that only work in one ear. I got the headphones. There was a little more turbulence at around 23:45 and at midnight the lights were dimmed and the flight attendants came around to close the window shades. The passengers had no choice.

As I looked around the cabin I noticed that we had a good load, 33 out of 34 seats were filled in the World Traveller Plus cabin and as I walked towards the Economy cabin in the rear I saw only a few empty seats, which could very well have been people who, like myself, had gotten up to use the washrooms or stretch their legs.

At around 00:30 we were served water and as the movie finished up I decided to get out my Mini Disk player and listen to some music (with a working set of headphones) as I looked through the games that were included with my World Traveller Plus seat. Some were pretty good, addictive anyways, which made the time pass more quickly. I especially found myself playing Black Jack, which was good but found many of the games, particularly Hangman to be very easy. I think it would be better if it was possible to listen to the radio and play the games at the same time.

At 08:15 GMT we were hovering between 34,000 and 35,000 feet and the lights were turned back on and breakfast, an ‘All Day Deli’ package, was served. This consisted of water, tea, a muffin and yoghurt. This wasn’t too bad, although on previous trips I do remember better food. At 08:45 Captain Ladder announced that we were very early due to a strong tail wind, which had helped us along through the night.

Decent began at around 08:50 just off the coast of Wales and as we headed down we experienced some more light turbulence, which reached its climax at around 28,500 feet over Bristol. After an excellent landing we were on the ground at about 09:25 and we made our way to our gate, which was of course still occupied. The captain again came on to the PA again to explain the situation (lack of parking at LHR) and he sounded quite pissed off about the whole thing. It was rather comical to hear him groan about the situation in length to the passengers.

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Photo © Irving Tjin

{On The Ground}

The weather in London was well, quite typical, cloudy, seasonally cool (14C) and a little breezy rain out of the west. After approximately 25 minutes of waiting the other aircraft pushed back and we made our way forward. We finally disembarked at around 10:05, which was our scheduled landing time. Not too shabby, especially for leaving late.

I liked being in the World Traveller Plus cabin, especially at the front, as this made getting off just that much faster. I collected my bag and then made my way forward through the plane. I walked briskly, passport in hand, and passed everyone who had already made their way off and when I arrived at Passport Control, the place was deserted. Excellent. I made my way through without any problems and then into the baggage claim area where I waited for about 5 minutes for the bags. Just as passengers from my flight were arriving to collect their luggage the bags started to flow and mine happened to be some of the first ones out. Brilliant! I quickly threw them onto my trolley and made my way out into the arrivals hall to meet up with my family well ahead of the rush.

Crew: 7
IFE: 8
Food: 6
Service: 8
Value: 7
Aircraft: 9
OVERALL: 8 (+1 for WT+)

Overall BA was pretty good as usual, consistant, with decent on-time performance, clean and modern aircraft, decent food and good entertainment. A great flight!

Well that's about it! I hope you've enjoyed part one of my Trip Report!

If you've got any questions or comments you can email me or just post here! I'm looking forward to everyone's feedback! Just keep in mind that this is my first report!

Enjoy - Skytrain. Big grin
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Tue Aug 10, 2004 12:47 am

Nice detailed report.

Lucky you , got to travel WT+. I suspect checking in early as you did probably helped. Wonder how many WT+ passengers got upgraded to club world, as it looked like the plane was overbooked.

Hope you post the other parts soon.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self- centered: Forgive them anyway - Mother Theresa
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Tue Aug 10, 2004 1:55 am

Great report, Skytrain!

Reminds me of when I was upgraded to WT+ on my AUH-LHR leg last February...I really enjoyed the bigger seat and the extra legroom--made sleeping so much more easier on that (night) flight!

Take care...

Your attention, please.
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Posts: 288
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 6:45 am

RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Tue Aug 10, 2004 2:09 am

Thanks for the replies guys! And yes, WT+ really does make it much easier to sleep on those night-flights!

Cheers - Skytrain.
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Tue Aug 10, 2004 2:11 am

An easy read. I love those vinegar and sea-salt pretzels on BA. I had them on my flights last year and could not find them anywhere in the stores! Delicious!
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Tue Aug 10, 2004 4:54 am

Excellent Skytrain! Sounds like you had a nice ride with BA, particularly with the WT+ upgrade.

Can't wait for the next part!

Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:48 am

Thanks for the kind words guys, they're much appreciated! Hopefully I'll be able to complete those other parts some time soon!

And Ryanair!!! I agree with you 100%, those pretzel bits are awesome!

Cheers - Skytrain. Big grin
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:59 am

Very nice trip report! Thanks for breaking it up into parts, as if you included everything in one report, it would become too long. Now I'm looking forward to the next parts.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Thu Aug 12, 2004 2:00 pm

GREAT report! Thanks for spending the time to write a detailed narrative like you did here.

I will try BA one of these days...even more so now that I hear about these malt vinegar snacks! I love salt & vinegar "crisps" when I'm in UK. I'm a loyal UA customer, and will be, but I've heard great things about BA. I'll do SEA-LHR on one of my many future trips to UK.

And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:18 pm

Great report!

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Posts: 288
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RE: Toronto (YYZ) - London (LHR) On BA [Part 1]

Fri Aug 13, 2004 1:48 pm

Thanks a lot guys!

Especially you Nuno - I knew you'd get around to it.  Laugh out loud

Heh, StevenUhl777, I think you should give BA a shot one of these days, the malt vinegar snacks are well worth the fare! Perhaps I'll be lucky enough try UA one day too!

Thanks a lot WidgetBoi!

Cheers - Skytrain.

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