The Trip ...
As I said in Part 1, I'm was just aiming to share a typical UK domestic experience and as I was travelling in uniform I didn't think it appropriate to be snapping away with a Canon; so all photos were taken with my Nokia 6234 in Flight Safe mode. (No rules were broken -- the phone was off for T/O and landing and on as a MP3 player when okay to do so) . The bulk of the detail is in Part 1, but the inbound journey illustrates some of the chaos caused by the knock on effects of fog at Heathrow.
As I mentioned in Part 1, I had been called down to Heathrow for a meeting and was intending to return home to Edinburgh on the 1930 flight. Consequently, I sauntered through the Online Check-In area and security around 4 o' clock intending to have a more substantial snack prior to retiring to the Lounge. I had carried a casual jumper to put on, so that once my uniform jacket was crumpled into the case, I could enter the Terraces Lounge "under cover".
|Heathrow - One of the BA Self Service Areas|
|Heathrow - Waiting in Costa Coffee; looking at the Gate 5 area in Terminal 1|
There's always a fair sprinkling of BA crew around Costa as they wait to head home (standby, etc), and I sometimes wonder what message this sends out about staff catering . I was in 11C heading home and I decided to try and change to the back row; always good for a chat with the crew in the rear galley. The warning bells starting ringing as I headed over to the Customer Service Desk... not an encouraging screen.
BA1454 1715 Delayed 1730
BA1458 1830 Cancelled (Just happened as I was looking at the screen)
BA1462 1930 My Flight - Delayed 2055
BA1464 2045 No comment....
Now the Edinburgh flights can be very busy; firstly there is the obvious "haggis and heather/Edinburgh Castle" tourist traffic. Secondly, Edinburgh is a major financial centre with HBOS plc, RBS Group and Standard Life all headquartered there; so there are always a few "broad pin stripe boys" who expect expecting the earth when travelling.
Of course the knock on effects of Heathrow's fog were still being felt and I suspected that further flights may be cancelled and merged. A stratagem quickly formed in the head...get home on the delayed 1454 at all costs. The Customer Service Desk was in chaos and I hopped quickly round to the Executive Lounge. 4 smiling ladies waiting to welcome me... I entered just as the 1830 cancellation was announced. Within seconds I went from being alone to being surrounded by about 50 people. Fortunately, I was at the front of the queue and was quickly off loaded from the BA1462 and on to the 1454. Another 10 or so pax were equally lucky. In practice the Ground Staff were delighted; another few bods out and less to juggle later. Despite being unpopular with pax and the Tabloid Press, sometimes Ops need to make the harsh decisions and cancel flights to restore the equilibrium for the next day. As you can see it was the correct move.
|From BA.COM ... from an arrivals at Edinburgh perspective.|
Heading home then...
BA1454 G-EUUG A320 Gate 76.
Boarding was announced around 1730 necessitating a quick hike through the Gate 5 area and out along the silver tube.
|Heathrow - Heading along the Silver tube to Gate 76.|
|Heathrow - G-EUUG on Stand 76.|
Usual very friendly welcome from the Captain, explaining about the late arrival of the incoming aircraft from Glasgow followed by a super welcome from the Cabin Services Director who covered every base - Cabin Crew, upcoming safety briefing, the meal, Executive Club and One World Alliance.
Another very clean cabin, compared to the 757, the Airbus cabins seems to stay cleaner, longer. Incidently, I don't know if the overhead flood lights had new tubes but the ceiling lights were so bright that neurosurgery could have been performed in the cabin. We pushed at 17:51, with the usual rush hour congestion at Heathrow leading to a prediction of a 20 delay for T/O. Safety Video run prior to the cabin lights being dimmed. My major annoyance on the early evening shuttle flights is the preponderance of business types; at least 1/2 cabin couldn't manage the courtesy of 3 mins for the Safety Briefing. Wall to Wall pink - the Financial Times being studied very hard by the pin stripe brigade.
Airborne at 18:12, Crew Released at 18:15 and Belts off at 18:19. Unlike the southbound flight, the screens were redeployed for the flight info displays.
The route tonight took us east past Luton and than a left turn to head NW towards Sheffield. Passing east of Manchester we then headed north over the Lake District and were handed off to Scottish Control. Cruise was FL280 Ground Speed 838 kph with a very slight tailwind. Over the border and a right turn direct towards Edinburgh. We were straight in tonight, approaching over Livingston and the M8 motorway to land on the easterly runway.
Those of you who battled through my flowery writing style in part 1, will have read about the savoury or sweet choice on the midday flights. Fortunately, as this was an evening flight a little dinner is served - hooray. A very tasty chicken salad with tomato, lettuce, artichoke hearts and a minty cous cous. This is served with a Rhubard Crumble desert and a "doubled ended roll" (one half is white bread and the other was wholemeal). A full beverage service is available with the business types taking coffee and 2 bottles of red!
|Chicken Salad with Cous Cous, Artichoke, tomato and lettuce.|
So there we are, a fun day of chaos all caused by fog around Heathrow despite as BA777ER236 says the fact that we're certified to Cat3b. This is just the fun caused on one route, multiple this up across the BA Route Map and you can see why the press seem to report just BA's problems. To some sections of the Press, BA is Heathrow. What is not reported is the huge efforts made across every BA team to minimise the impact - it's not easy and certainly not always popular but it works... bear in mind too, that BA's fares can be cheaper than some LCCs and they will get you home. Not to mention a delicious chicken salad.
Thanks for reading