SCH DEP 08:20
ACT DEP CANCELLED
This holiday had been planed a few months back, since we needed to be in Menorca for my Dad's 60th birthday, we figured a couple of days in Son Caliu near Palma would be nice before we headed over to Mahon. As we wanted to leave from Heathrow, and with the itinerary we had, a combo of BA & IB flights looked the best option, Heathrow to Palma via Madrid, Palma to Mahon and home from Mahon via Barcelona. BMI operate a non-stop route to PMI but the pricing was way over the top.
We left the car in the staff parking area and took the courtesy shuttle over to T1, upon exiting the shuttle we noticed a problem, a sea of people in huge ques outside the terminal and a sea of others, including us, penned up in the old drop off area. I realised there might be a few delays due to yesterdays rain, but nothing like this, it was just mad!
Since the terminals were still full of passengers from last night, BAA staff were only allowing small numbers into the terminal. I had a bit of a row with a chap from BAA as I wanted to access zone R, this being BA's premium check-in area for T1, he said no as it was full, I told him that was rubbish as I'd been informed it was empty, (a lady next to me had a friend waiting for her in zone R, she said it was empty and to get in there) I told him he was just a job's worth, which he didn't take too kindly too, but get real pal, how can you expect to know what's going on without a radio and no form of communication with inside??
BAA were well out of their depth here, complete chaos, just a total lack of organisation and communication, pretty poor!
Suffice to say they gave in, anyone travelling in First, Club or holding a BA silver or Gold card could now enter zone R, yippee!!!
I noticed a que which ran along the right hand wall as you approached zone R, this was the que for re-ticketing and re-booking of cancelled flights, it stopped outside the entrance to zone R and ran all the way back into BA's T1 ticket desk, quite a que, glad I'm not in that!
Zone R was quite calm , we got in the small que for check-in, as we got to the front I noticed the departure's board, our flight along with Milan & Berlin showed the dreaded words, CANCELLED, we were told by a member of staff to join the que outside for re-booking. Whilst unhappy with this we joined the que. After about half and hour I realised the que was not actually moving.
I left Nicole (my better half) in the que with the bags and found a BA floor manager for zone R, explained the problem and asked why BA's premium card holders were receiving the same treatment as normal passengers( I had noticed Gold Card holders join our que) and why was the Zone R ticket desk closed, surely it should be open to help premium passengers? -- The explanation was lack of staff and trying to deal with the situation as best as possible. It seems to me BA were not organised at all today, given all the previous issues, 911, 711 etc etc,I expected BA to have a decent game plan to get people moving after a problem, I was very disappointed this was not the case.
|The que from zone R|
It took us 3.5 hours to reach the ticket desk, I will say it went quite quickly, the mood of the que was good natured, staff frequently patrolled with water, a round of sandwiches and just chatting with people to help if possible. All in all, it was not as bad as I had feared.
|Getting closer to the Ticket Desk|
Upon reaching the ticket desk it took another half an hour to sort us out, I think the ticket agent was new as she had to ask for help. We were quite lucky in the end, a direct flight to Palma with BMI later that afternoon, excellent, much better than I had actually hoped for.
The BA T1 Ticketing desk has 10 positions, whilst we were being served, only 5 positions were open, given the considerable backlog of people behind us, all the positions should have been open, no wonder it took so long to get there!!
It was now 11am, we had tickets for the 14:40 BMI flight to Palma, arrival would arrive later than planned but at least we would get there today.
In the off chance it was possible to check in early, we headed over to the BMI area of T1. In a stark contrast to the rest of the terminal it was very quiet here. Check-in for BMI opened 2.5 hours before the flight, we had to find somewhere to wait out the time with our bags.
We managed to find a table in Costa on the upper lever of T1 and nursed a coffee for the next hour, it was getting pretty cold by the time I finished it, but given the numbers of people around I wanted to keep the table!!
|View from Costa Coffee|
12:00 rolled by and we headed down to check-in, I was so looking forward to getting rid of the bag's and getting through security.
Check-in was ok, took a while but we managed a window seat on an exit row, the extra legroom would be good as BMI's 320's seem pretty tight legroom wise from my experience. I asked the agent to enter my BMI FF number, however she managed to put it on my girlfriends boarding pass, no surprise the miles have not credited my account -- will have to write in to have them credited.
The security ques were surprisingly short, it took perhaps 20 minutes to get through, it still worries me that people can't read or prepare for it, you know, coin's out of pocket etc.....
Once through security, a little last minute shopping needed to be done before we headed over to the BA Terraces Lounge.
At the lounge, it took a while to get in, the staff were rather reluctant to allow access since we had BMI tickets, however they relented and allowed access, good idea on their part.
The lounge was pretty full as usual, but we located some decent comfy chairs towards the rear of the lounge.
Since it was lunchtime, a decent selection of sandwiches, snacks and a decent spread of salad with pasta,meat, cheese etc had been laid out, I made good use of this since we were flying BMI, very nice indeed!
|Lunch at BA T1 Terraces|
|Lunch was good!|
An American couple, their 4 young children and nanny occupied some seats near, they didn't stay long, but did proceed to change the baby's nappy on the sofa, quite unpleasant!
21.07.07 BD163 A320-232 G-MIDV 10E
1st Flight on this aircraft & 65th A320 Flight
SCH DEP 14:40 SCH ARR 16:15
ACT DEP 15:09 ACT ARR 16:20
Boarding started early at around 14:10 or so, upon arrival at gate, the reason for early boarding became apparent, boarding via bus as the plane was parked over At T1 domestics.
|BD165 Operated by G-MIDV today|
Our allocated seats were 10 E & F, Nicole let me have the window so I could watch planes etc, the guy seated in 10D was asked to move to 11A as the row was empty and needed someone in it as it was an exit row -- nice, row to ourselves and a exit row with the legroom!
|Legroom in 10F|
Push back occurred at 14:49 and we taxied over to 27L for departure, wheel's up at 15:04.
Looking around the cabin it was clear the flight was far from full, perhaps 60% if that. Given this is peak holiday season and the only non-stop from Heathrow to Palma, this flight should be pretty full, that said, I looked at booking this flight but it was quite an expensive option.
The flight itself was quite smooth, we purchased a can of Carlsberg each and just read/slept the rest of the flight.
|Relaxing in flight|
Wheels touched down at 18:04 local time, despite all the problems we were only about 4 hours behind the original arrival time, can't really complain.
|Heading to the gate|
The walk from the plane to baggage claim was quite long, once there baggage took around 45 minutes to arrive, however there were quite a few flight having arrived at the same time.
Headed outside for a cab to the hotel.
BA -- Not their finest day
BMI -- Can't complain but not my first choice of carrier, I do use them quite often for work as we have a corporate deal so know what to expect.
The return was as planned, I'll post that report later, I'll need to find a new host for my pictures as I've pretty much used up my A.NET allowance
Thanks for reading, any comments are appreciated.