Anyway, with regards to this trip report, my flight home to Los Angeles was scheduled for 3 August with British Airways. I was flying on a World Traveller+ ticket upgraded with miles to Club World and as a result of this, I was unable to move up (prepone in India-talk) the date of the flight in order to give myself more time at home in LA before starting work on the 15 August.
Weeks prior to the flight, I logged on to www.ba.com and requested seat 20A, a Club World seat on the main deck of the Club World cabin as I wanted to try the lower deck for once. As it happened however, when checking in online the night before, I balked and decided that the lower deck couldn’t beat the privacy, space and comfort of the upper deck – so I selected seat 64K, a window at the back of the upper deck. The benefit of 64K being the last row is that I wouldn’t have to climb over anyone’s legs on the way out.
Going back to Los Angeles meant leaving Oxford, which I was rather upset to do as I had had an excellent year. It was my first real leaving home experience, and although at times I felt overwhelmed, words cannot describe the extent to which I have matured, learned about myself, learned about others and improved my world view, as well as questioned my values and beliefs for the sake of improving and making them consistent with each other. In total, it was an intense year in many ways, but it was so worth it and overall the experience made me realise a point that we learn early on in life; that is, that the mills of the gods grind slowly, albeit ever so fine.
Now that the Oxford reminiscing is over, we can move on the trip report. For me, 3 August started off in London at my friend’s flat. I had spent the four days prior in the Czech Republic and Germany (will be writing a trip report STN-PRG-LHR on Czech Airways) and I was planned on taking the Underground at 09:00 to get to Heathrow around 10:00 for my 11:55 flight. I woke up around 7am and did the final packing, and then had breakfast with my friend:
Then I went into the Vauxhall train station and as I was getting onto the tube, I ran into a friend from Oxford that was going to work so we took a photo together:
I took the Victoria line to Victoria and then changed to the district line, which took me until Hammersmith. With a fair amount of hassle, I managed to get my bags to the other side of the platform to catch the Piccadilly line to the airport. In the meantime, I took a photo of Hammersmith station:
No sooner had I clicked the photo that a lady from the Underground came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures because of “what happened last year.” I said sorry and put the camera away. The westbound Piccadilly line came and I got on for the trip to Heathrow.
Here’s a photo of the inside of the train:
Hatton Cross station was closed due to “police request” and I got off at the Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 stop. With my 4 bags I desperately needed to find a cart. Here is a phot of my cases on the cart:
The white England bag weighed 31.7 kgs and the Pepsi duffle bag weighed 21 kgs. Quite substantial! I walked to Terminal 1 and went over to the British Airways premium check in area. There was no queue in the Club World line and I simply dropped my bags off and proceeded to security. The check-in lady was kind enough to tell me that the plane operating BA 283 that morning was G-BNLO.
Similarly, there was no waiting at security and I proceeded to the lounge. I had heard that there was a spa at the Executive Club lounge and I remembered seeing photos from Fbgdavidson’s report so I decided to check it out myself. I dropped my camera bag and laptop bag at the cloakroom and then went to the spa. Here is the door of the spa:
The spa doesn’t exactly have a spa – or at least I don’t think so. The lady at the desk told me that I could use the shower suites or else have a massage if I was traveling long-haul. I suppose I could have had a massage but I didn’t really fancy one and I didn’t have that much time anyway, so I just decided to have a shower. Here is a photo of the shower suite:
It was very reminiscent of the showers at British Airways lounge at JFK. When I got out I went back into the lounge and had a coffee:
Also worthy of mentioning that BA provides several magazines other than the Economist in the lounge.
At this point in the day, the lounge was still on breakfast mode so the extent of the food offerings was a couple of croissants, some toast and fruit. I always feel a bit uneasy about taking photos of the lounge because there are so many people in it but regardless here is one that I managed to snap anyway:
Before proceeding to the gate at 11:20 I used the internet terminals and called my sister. Then I walked over to gate 56 (a walk of about 5-10 minutes) and found G-BNLO sitting there waiting for me:
Photo © Balazs Pinter
Photo © Dan Rabolt
Photo © Brenden
Photo © Sam Chui
Airline: The World’s Favourite
Flight Number: BA 283
Route: London Heathrow – Los Angeles
Departure time: 11:55 (scheduled), 12:25 (actual)
Arrival time: 14:55 (scheduled), 14:55 (actual)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-436, G-BNLO
Cabin: Club World
Seat: 64K (Upper Deck)
Boarding had already started when I got to the gate and for some reason no distinction had been made between premium and economy passengers. Perhaps they had all already boarded? Anyway, I waited in line for about 3 minutes and then got on the plane. Boarding was done through door 1L and so I got to the walk through the first business class cabin before going upstairs. This particular aircraft had the higher capacity of J class seating (70? as opposed to 38). I found my seat and said hello to the American gentleman in 64J.
Here is a view of the seat:
And the view out the window:
No sooner had I sat down than one of the F/As came by and offered me orange juice, champagne or water. I chose the OJ and here I am drinking it:
The nice thing about the upper deck is that if you have a window seat you’ve got the luxury of having the side bins between the seat and the window to store various things. Here are some photos of the side bins. More space than I could use and of course it’s also good for putting things aside when shuffling around in my seat or when getting up to roam around the cabin:
Here are a couple more shots of the seat:
Note the shade between the two seats (which the guy in 64J kept closed) and the reading light:
Here are the various seat functions:
While taxiing out I took some photos of the various aircraft. Nothing special to report but here are a couple of the better pictures:
BA 767-336ER G-BNWB:
A tired looking TAP Air Portugal A310-300:
A United Airlines 777-222 N774UA heading to…anyone know where at about 12:15pm?
We taxied out to the runway and held short in order to allow a Qatar Airways A330-200 to take off, presumably bound for Doha. After it was clear, we proceeded onto 27R and the pilots gently increased thrust to what I guess was 70% N1 before fully opening the throttles. We started galloping down the runway and were treating to the lovely roar of the Rolls Royce RB211s. We rotated and started climbing out and banking right.
The service soon started with the passing out of the amenity kit. Here is a photo:
And the contents:
Menus were passed out and the drink service began. I had a scotch with some nuts. The days of the warm roasted nuts served in a small bowl are long gone:
The offerings for today’s lunch were as follows:
Prawns with herb and orange crème fraiche dressing
Tomato, basil and Mozzarella cheese salad
Fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette
Grilled fillet of beef, roast shallt and balsamic butter
Pan-seared cod fillet with lobster and rocket sauce
Chicken fricassee with seasonal vegetables
Main course of classic Greek salad
Apple, almond and cranberry muesli tart with crème anglaise
Blacksticks Blue and Quickes Cheddar cheese
I had originally asked for the prawns and the beef but the beef wasn’t available. The F/A apologised profusely but I said that the chicken was absolutely fine. I had a glass of Italian wine as well.
Here is the tray:
The prawns were really good actually, particularly with the lemon:
The salad was just a salad – can’t really bugger it up but at the same time unlikely to be anything amazing:
The F/A came round with fresh baked bread twice during the course of the meal.
Then the chicken arrived:
The main course was actually really quite good. I hadn’t had chicken fricassee for ages and enjoyed this one. Here I am enjoying the wine as well:
After the main course was cleared away, the apple tart arrived:
And I had a coffee as well:
I was quite tired after all this having woken up quite early and so I decided to get some sleep. The following photo was taken with my digital camera with an 8 second exposure (at this time the cabin lights had been dimmed).
I woke up with about 4 hours to go. During the course of the flight I noticed that the F/As came round the cabin with orange juice and water on a regular basis (perhaps 1ce an hour?).
Here is a photo of the upper deck cabin:
There was nothing on the entertainment system that I felt like watching (in fact I find BA’s Omnia system to be quite substandard compared to other aspects of its product). But the games were quite good and I played crossword and hangman:
With 1.5 hours left the cabin lights were turned back on and breakfast was served. One of the F/As came over to my seat to tell me that he wanted to make sure that I had my choice for breakfast, since my first choice wasn’t available at lunch time. I ended up choosing the chicken and cheese sandwiches and they were really good. Here is a photo of the tray:
The chicken sandwich featured crisp bread, mayo on the toast and good quality pieces of chicken:
The tomato and cheese sandwich had onion chutney as well, which wasn’t great but nonetheless I enjoyed it:
And the dessert was really, really good! I don’t know if you’d call this an eclaire due to the space, but it was filled with chocolate sauce and was delicious:
For the rest of the flight I just took it easy and read my book, Al-Qaeda by Jason Burke. Great reading:
We started our descent for LAX and came in for a smooth landing on 25R, touching down at 14:55 on the dot. We taxied over to Bradley but were delayed pulling into the gate because of the late departure of the Lufthansa 747-400 that was vacating our parking space. In the meantime I took some photos around the airport. Nothing too significant, but I did see this private Saudi 747-400 and here is a photo of it:
Anyone know what it was doing there?
I also saw the American 767-200 whose engine exploded a couple of months ago. When we finally did pull in, we parked next to another British Airways 747-400, G-CIVD, which was operating BA 278 back to London at 3pm. Here is a photo:
Right behind our heels, an Air Tahiti Nui A340-300 pulled in and parked on the other side of us:
Deplaning was done through door 2L. We were held back by one of the F/As to allow the First Class passengers to exit first. I was one of the 20 or so people out of the plane and I raced ahead to immigration. When I got to the passport control desk there was no one waiting. The conversation with the immigration officer went like this:
Officer: How you doin?
Me: Great, how are you?
Officer: Good, where you coming in from?
Officer: What are all these countries you’ve been to before your last visit? What were you doing all this time?
Me: Oh I was studying in the UK and I did some traveling before coming back.
Officer: What are you doing here?
Me: Visiting my parents.
Officer: Ok, have a good one. You’re all set.
The bags came off two carousels as usual and luckily my bags didn’t take that long to come out. Unfortunately the 405 was its usual congested self and it took me almost two hours to get home.
My parents had left the dog in the backyard and after parking the car in the garage I raced into the house without even unloading the bags to see her. She was waiting at the garden door and she jumped up and down, ran around the house and started barking when she saw me.
Took a couple of photos with her. These are for you Sara!
And for a change of pace:
Overall the flight with British Airways was its usual self and that is to say very good. The crew was friendly and charismatic and the service was good. The only thing was that I didn’t see priority boarding at the gate at LHR, but that might well have been a result of my late arrival. Otherwise, all was well and even though I’ve been on 16 segments with BA since September 2005, I can’t think of a better airline to get sick of than the world’s favourite.