My first time to England (other than switching planes enroute to AMS) was the only time I flew over on BA. All sorts of silly things happened because of my lack of knowledge. I was booked SFO-LHR and back on BA, not by choice, just told my travel dept. that I needed to go to London and that's what they gave me.
I was used to flying with a 22 x 14 x 9 roll-aboard and no other bag of any sort. I think I probably verified that the dimensions were OK before my flight, but didn't know anything about weight restrictions on carry-on. So when I checked in, they weighed my bag and wouldn't let me carry it on. Since I had no small bag or backpack or anything in the bag, I couldn't keep anything with me, had to let it all go, including my camera (some stupid 35mm point and shoot I'd had for ten years).
I hadn't been allowed to reserve a seat in advance, and apparently most other people hadn't either. We were literally given seats sequentially, no "window or aisle", you get what you get. So the guy two in front of me got 21A, the woman between us got 21B, and I got 21C, the 3 seats on the far left in a 747-400; I guess I was lucky not to be the recipient of a middle. Lovely way to do things, nice customer service.
Flight: BA286 SFO-LHR
Date: 2 Nov, 1998
Aircraft: G-BNLJ (B747-400, RR engines)
This was when BA had their world tails or whatever they were called. This one was Martha Masanabo:
Photo © Søren Geertsen
It was a long time ago, but I think we departed basically on time on the 28's -- it was dark before we pushed back, this was the 1830 departure in November. After dinner and a few glasses of wine I'd finally fallen asleep when there was shouting behind me. I woke up, pretty pissed off, to find some old American guy in the D seat (left aisle of the center section) about 5 rows back yelling at the people next to him that he'd had enough of their complaining, it was annoying him, and he wanted them to stop. The purser came and said he'd called for the flight crew, and soon one of them showed up, about 8 feet tall with a big hat adding another foot or so. He asked our friend what seemed to be his problem, and he explained in a whiny voice that the people around him were non-stop complaining about everything -- the food, the drinks, the seats, the pillows, and it was annoying him, and he'd had enough of it and wanted them to stop. It was all very odd. I don't know what resolution there was, but the captain/FO/SO eventually left and it was quiet for the rest of the flight.
If I remember correctly, breakfast was something really un-English like a breakfast burrito. I had tea, thinking, "this is BA, I should have tea," and it was crap. We landed, around 2pm, and sure enough, my bag never came out. Lots of other people didn't get theirs either. We filled out forms, were given phone numbers to call, and were on our way.
I called all afternoon and evening, and all night, and at every jetlag insomnia moment, and at some point around 3am they told me they'd figured out that an entire container of bags had been inadvertently left behind in SFO, and would be on the next day's flight. I had to buy new clothes, including shoes, for a business meeting the next day. When my bag arrived, it had been very carefully gone through, obviously by someone with plenty of time with it, although that could have been the delivery service, but at the time I wondered whether ground crew in SFO might have kept a container off "by mistake" to go hunting through. Apologies if any of you in the a.net community worked there then.
After 3 days of business and 1 day of sightseeing on a sunny, 60F Saturday, I was set for a departure at 11am on Remembrance Sunday or whatever it's called. It was cold and rainy, and I'd been up all night, so I was exhausted.
I asked for a window at check-in, and she said there weren't any but that she'd make a note and they might give me one at the gate. Yeah right, that's gonna happen. And yet, when I went to board, I said, "I was told to ask about a window seat," and the older woman taking boarding passes said, "oh yes, we have a new seat for you here, thank you for remembering to ask." It was in fact not really a window, but was exit row -- there were two seats instead of the normal 3, and mine was lined up with the other middles, with no one where the windows would be. So infinite legroom and elbow room, not bad.
Flight: BA285 LHR-SFO
Date: 8 Nov, 1998
Aircraft: G-BNLS (B747-400, RR engines)
This one was Wunala Dreaming:
Photo © Benny
It continued raining while we boarded, and right at 1100, our scheduled departure time, the Captain announced we would observe the minute of silence or whatever it is, and I think there was compliance. I was so tired, I did my usual "fall asleep before pushback and wake up on takeoff roll" -- which was something like 1145. I remember, when we were given a choice of lunch entrees, the guy next to me asking the air hostess whether the salmon was "nice," and ordering it, and that I got something else (but what that something was, I'll never know). I slept through most of the flight, but I do remember the pre-arrival meal into SFO was a scone, and I had more of the awful BA tea. This time my bag arrived.
I wrote a letter to BA requesting reimbursement for the clothes I had to buy and the stolen camera, making a weak argument that their draconian weight-based carry-on policy plus putting my bag in the hands of too many people with too much time alone with it contributed to its theft. I expected to get something for the clothes but nothing for the camera. What I got was... no response at all, for months. After having had to return to the UK and specifying "not BA", I finally got a response about 8 months later, with all the clothing $$$ plus a stern explanation that I never should have checked the camera but as a good faith gesture they were giving me $100 for it, which was certainly more than it was worth at that point. Too bad for them, I was already hooked on their competitors by then.