As requested in Reply 2 of this thread, here's a British Airways trip report.
January 1997, my first time ever across the Atlantic. I was on UA SFO-LHR-AMS, with a plane change in LHR -- the SFO-LHR plane went on to BRU. I landed 30 mins late due to holding on approach (who could have guessed that would happen) and even though the other plane was at the adjacent gate, UA they wouldn't let us step over and board, in LHR we had to be re-screened and everything, so we got re-ticketed on BA about 6 hours later.
So it was about 45 minutes to get to T4 on the bus with freezing rain, traffic, etc. I got checked in, went and spent my food voucher on some bangers & mash in some bad restaurant, and then headed over to the gate.
Flight: BA438 LHR-AMS
Date: 4 Jan, 1997
Aircraft: G-BMRJ (B757-200, RR engines)
There were about 15 people total in Economy of this 757, what a waste. I had asked if I could be put on an earlier flight and was told they were all full, which was a bit hard to believe looking at this one.
After boarding, we waited over 3 hours at the gate to be de-iced. About every half hour the captain came on the PA to explain to us that they still didn't have a de-icing truck for us.
Finally we got de-iced, and then pushed, taxied, waited in line, and took off. We weren't more than 20 feet off the ground when the seatbelt sign went off and everyone but me took off their seatbelt, which seemed odd to me, and at about 1000 feet off the ground the air hostesses were walking down the aisle tossing boxes to everyone. The contents of the box were food, I think a sandwich and some other stuff. When we were at a slightly higher altitude they came around again offering beverages. I can't remember what I had, it was almost 11 years ago.
The flight was all of about 20 minutes in the air, getting me into Amsterdam only 8 hours later than planned. Being an ignorant American, I was surprised to walk from baggage claim in Amsterdam, not having done any immigration or customs, straight out into the shopping mall that is Schipol, but soon enough I'd found the train station and was on my way.