Plane: A 321
After a quick and positive 2 days in Barcelona, it was time to head north to my normal place of work in the Vendee region of France. The previous 2 days weather had been great but today was raining cats and dogs and quite cold.
Spanish Beach at Port Ginesta
Rather fortunately it would turn out…
As I had a late flight out of BCN
, I took the opportunity to drive to Mataro and do some work there before I flew out.
I arrived to the airport a few hours early which gave me some time to check emails and relax before the flight. Due to timing I couldn’t find a direct flight to NTE
, so I had to go via MAD
. Not really too much of a problem as I achieved 2 goals here, one being my first flights on IB
, and the other was to go to another airport I haven’t been to before.
When I had finished all my work, I found a quiet place to read a book and wait for the flight, unfortunately a few minutes later I was joined by a couple who decided to talk loudly on their phones.
lounge at BCN
Why they sat next to me when the lounge was almost empty is beyond me, so being near scheduled boarding time, I got up and left and headed for the gate.
When I got to the gate I saw that the flight was delayed about 30 minutes. At this point I wasn’t too concerned as I had 90 minutes connection time in MAD
. When the delay got to one hour, I was starting to get nervous as I had to be in Les Sables by 9am the next day for a meeting. Shortly after we managed to board, but it was a 100% full flight which meant boarding took a long time. We pushed back exactly 90 minutes late and me thinking that I was going to have to stay the night in MAD
. At least the views on takeoff were good!
New Construction at BCN
Jade Cargo 744ERF
Looking north towards Barcelona
Being the optimistic person that I am, I was hoping that we would make up some time on the flight to MAD
to allow me to make the next flight. Unfortunately was lost some time on the descent meaning we landed 100 minutes late. I realised my only hope was that my NTE
flight was similarly delayed. As I ran off the plane and found the nearest information screen, I saw that indeed my flight to NTE
was delayed and I had 30 minutes spare – phew! The next problem was that the rental car place was due to close at 22:30, and this delay meant I would not get into NTE
until about 22:45. I managed to find the number and called to ask if they would wait, to which the lovely woman agreed to.
When I next looked at the gate monitor, it noted departure at 21:35, a delay of a further 20 minutes, frustrating but not much that can be done. After going for a quick walk, I noticed that departure had been delayed until 22:15, which was very annoying. I ran again Hertz and the woman said that she would wait almost an hour after closing to wait for me, which was really nice. With nothing else to do for almost an hour, I figure I would go for a walk and try and find the IB
lounge. I had made my way to the other end of the terminal and hadn’t found the lounge, but for some reason decided to check the departure board. “IB
8544 – last call” – oh dear..! I was a little surprised as it was only 21:35, so I had to make my way very quickly to the other end of the terminal – not a short distance.
When I got to the gate, the agents were waiting, saw me and yelled “Nantes”, which I replied to the affirmative. As it was a remote gate, one agent took me downstairs to the gate and waited with me until the bus came to pick me up. I asked her about the change in times, and she said it had been like that all day, she was just as frustrated.
Plane: CRJ 200
The bus dropped me off at the CRJ and I quickly climbed aboard. My carryon was too big for the small CRJ lockers so it was put in the hold with the other bags, but not before I took my headphones out.
We managed to leave the blocks at 21:45 before a long taxi to the active runway, and a quick departure. Food was served during the flight but all I wanted to do was rest for the hour and half flight. It was a pretty uneventful flight and we landed after 90 minutes of flying and pulled up to a remote “gate”.
We walked off the flight and picked up our carryon bags and went into the terminal to wait for our bags. Pretty quickly it became evident that my hold luggage did not make the flight, thankfully I pack my carryon well expecting this to happen, but still frustrating nonetheless. By this time I was very tired and frustrated, and at 23:45 not expecting the woman at the Hertz desk to be waiting, I was a little sharp to the poor IB
girl who was taking my details for lost luggage. It wasn’t her fault and in the end I did thank her, and acknowledge it wasn’t her fault. She was very pleasant, and did a good job.
After my details were taken I walked out the door to see the car rental offices dark and closed – bugger. However, as it seems quite regulary, I was very lucky, the Hertz woman was still there waiting for me, and 10 minutes later we were both outta there.
Lucky for the cold weather in Barcelona, otherwise without any warm clothes, I would have been very cold indeed.
A very busy 5 days later I was on my way to the airport again, this time a short hop and an overnight at CDG
. With work being busy I was a little later to the airport than I usually like to be, but it was still sufficient not to be late. Seeing as I was pushing the timing I went straight to the gate after dropping my bags off and waited to board, and waited, and waited. It seems, although I did have a lot of luck, I am having a lot of delays. This time, unlike at BCN
, we were kept advised on the delays and after 45 minutes we were allowed to board. We pushed back exactly an hour behind schedule, and quickly took off – not a lot of waiting at NTE
DHL 757 at Nantes
Sunset over Nantes
As with my flight to NTE
, I reclined and rested for the entire trip to CDG
, being dark outside nothing to see anyway. The load on this flight extremely light allowing me to recline and spread out as there was no one behind or beside me – the best way to fly in economy.
We made up 5 minutes on the way to CDG
so we arrived at the gate ‘only’ 55 minutes late, and after picking up my bags, made my way to the CDGVAL. This was the first time I had used this and found it was much better and quicker than waiting for the bus. It still meant though, I wasn’t able to check in into the IBIS until well after 23:00.
Today was going to be a long day so I had hoped to get some good sleep, but for some reason, I didn’t, and combined with having to get up early to work, meant I was quite tired. I had a lot of mail to answer, and found I lost track of time only leaving the hotel at 08:30 for a 09:45 flight. I wasn’t too worried but still ended up rushing onto the CDGVAL and then to terminal 2B for check in. Lucky the BA
business counter was empty so I was able to check in straight away. I walked through security and to the gate holding area and didn’t see a plane so I thought there would be a delay as per normal at CDG
, however as soon as I arrived the flight was called and it became apparent that we were going to be bussed to the plane.
This seemed to be a lightly loaded flight, so although we were bussed, we managed to shut the doors and depart only 2 minutes after schedule. The taxi to 27L was long and we were held short for 15 minutes due to ATC restrictions before we managed to take off.
A variety of tails at 2B
A rather gorgeous MD11
Breakfast was served pretty quickly after we levelled out, and again I was impressed by how quickly the crew serve and clean up on this short flight. I didn’t take any photos of this meal, as I didn’t think it was anything special enough to take a photo of. It was the normal hot English breakfast, which I enjoy.
There was nothing on this trip to photograph, in fact I only saw the ground again just before we touched down. It looked like a normal London day foggy and wet! In spite of the delay waiting to take off we managed to arrive at the gate on schedule.
-OJG waiting for its return trip to AUS
Now I had to find my way through the new Terminal 5. It was well signposted and I made my way through to the passport control. The nice lady at passport control told me where the Concorde Room, even though I did know where it was.
After reading some horror stories about BA
lounge access, I wondered if I would have any problems, but no, I was waived on through into the lounge. As per usual, I headed straight over to the nicest seat that had a power point access and started working. Having had breakfast, and wanting to be able to enjoy the food on the next flight I decided against having any food in the lounge but I did accept a few offers of drinks.
Again I found I lost track of time working, so I didn’t get many photos of the lounge as I thought catching my flight was probably more important. This flight left from Terminal 5B
, but the signage and transport was very good so I didn’t have any problems. Neither did the person who left the lounge at the same time I did, but I think that was due to the personal escort he had – must have been someone important.
Features of the Concorde Lounge
Boarding I thought was very average. The location of gate 35 meant it was a tight squeeze for all passengers, and premium passengers almost had to force their way past the other SLF to get to the premium line, then down an escalator [or lift] down to the bridge. Seems overly complicated when compared to other airports.
Upon entering the plane I was escorted to my seat, a nice touch I think. With no overhead lockers, I took out my book and headphones from my carryon and put it in the cupboard.
One thing I forgot to mention on the forgetful LAX
flight was that I was not able to put my carryon bag in this cupboard because the crew had all theirs in it, and when they had to remove them for customers bags, they were obvious in their displeasure.
My seat for the next 11 hours
1A which remained empty for the flight.
Pushback was delayed by 25 minutes due to a “paperwork” issue, but with a quick flight time planned, arrival into LAX
was still on schedule. I was surprised to see that seat 1A would be empty for this flight but happy as it gave me lots of privacy.
Hors d’ourves were served as soon as the seat belt sign was extinguished, and I took a glass of champagne. Unfortunately, although the weather was clearing, it was still mostly cloudy so I only got a few shots over the UK. Although the BA
seats are more private, I don’t like being so far away from the window, makes taking photos that much harder.
Orders were taken for lunch soon afterwards, my choice being lobster salad for entrée, steak for main, and custard tart for dessert. All were very tasty especially the lobster salad.
Salad of poached lobster with mango slices on iceberg lettuce and cucumber
Michel Roux filleet of beef with cherry tomato sauce, vegetable ratatouille and Parisienne potatoes
Traditional custard tart with gooseberry confit.
After the meal was cleared up, I relaxed and read while watching the map, hoping the cloud would clear before Greenland. Our path was quite southerly so we passed below Iceland unfortunately, not that I would have seen anything with the cloud cover.
An hour or so later, tiredness got the better of me, so I reclined the seat and ended up sleeping for 30 minutes or so. When I woke up, I noticed that the cabin was dark except for 2 of the 3 windows at my seat. Somehow someone closed one of the blinds, the one closest to me thus the most difficult to close, not sure what happened there.
Luckily I woke up just before Greenland, and was treated to very impressive scenery below.
After we passed over Greenland, I went to answer a call of nature, but found both toilets full, quite strange considering the F load was only 8/14. The crew member in the galley at the time was quite embarrassed about this and went to see if there was a free toilet in J, which there was, but he and I ended up chatting anyway. The funny part was when 2 crew members emerged from the toilets at the same time!
More Greenland, note our contrail at bottom of pic.
About an hour later and getting closer to Baffin Bay, I was feeling very tired again, but not wanting to miss the scenery, I requested a cappuccino to keep me awake. 10 minutes later the crew member came back to me to apologise profusely saying the frother was not working and she couldn’t get me what I wanted. Although I wasn’t too fussed in the slightest, she was most apologetic and said how unacceptable it was. It didn’t bother me at all, but I was impressed by the service and how genuine the F/A was. In the end I did get a coffee and biscuits which kept me awake for the rest of the trip.
At this time I was requested to shut the other blinds as “the sun is shining on another passenger” which I wasn’t too happy about, so we reached a compromise – I shut one blind and the other was left open so I could keep looking out.
Lunch was served about 2 hours out from LA
, but being so tired I wasn’t feeling very hungry but wanted to try something so I went for the Chicken and tomato chutney lattice pie. The lovely crew member from the coffee episode told me that the servings were only small so she would give me 2 pieces, so who was I to complain. Dessert was the Chocolate Florentine, chocolate éclair, and Victoria sponge – very tasty.
Chicken and tomato chutney lattice pie, with dessert in the background
Flying over Utah
After a very scenic tour of LA
we landed on time, but the 20 minute taxi meant we were late to the blocks. With disembarking from door 2L, it meant the First Class passengers had to fight with the J passengers to get off the plane first. I had noticed on an earlier flight, that J passengers were held back for the F, but not in this case. I was not fussed as I had over 24 hours scheduled here in LA
, so getting out first wasn’t too important, but being close to the front allowed me to get through customs quicker. Twenty minutes later my bags finally arrived, not the first out but in the top few anyways. By this time and after a very long day I was feeling very tired, and was thinking that instead of spending over a day in LA
, I would rather go home.
As I walked into the arrivals hall, I decided I wanted to go home, so I rang my girlfriend to see if she could ring Qantas and get me on one of todays flights. A few minutes later she rang back and said I was rebooked on the QF
12, so I left Tom Bradley Terminal and walked to T4
and checked in for the flight. Being 6 hours before departure I was (pleasantly) surprised to be able to check in. The guy at the counter was a surprised when I asked the rego of tonights flight but was very happy to find out. VH
-OEI – not bad as I haven’t been on this ER
before, so although missing OEJ was a shame, it wasn’t in vain as I can cross another QF
744 off the list. As it happened OEJ didn’t fly the QF
12 the next day, so it all worked out well!
As per usual, I went straight to the lounge for a nice long hot shower. This time the showers in the First Class lounge were empty so that’s were I went.
With quite a few hours to kill, I picked up a T-Mobile wireless card for free lounge access and worked for a few hours until tiredness really set in.
Views from the lounge
With an hour to go before boarding, I was so tired I felt drunk, so I got up and went for a walk around the terminal.
Plane: B 747-438ER
Boarding started as scheduled 40 minutes before departure, with the premium passengers boarding first. Being so tired I had the orange drink and changed into the sleeper suit as quickly as possible, and found myself dozing. I woke up as we were being pushed back, and then again sometime after we levelled off in flight. As I woke up, I was asked if I wanted the bed made which I immediately accepted, and went straight back to sleep.
I woke up a few times in the night but went straight back to sleep. With 3 hours to go I woke up finally, and got changed out of the sleeper suit. On return to my seat, the ‘bed’ had been put away and the seat in the seated position. Almost as soon as I sat down, I was asked what I wanted for breakfast by the friendly F/A who commented on how much I has slept on this leg. I went for a hot breakfast as I normally do on flights. At home I will never have a hot breakfast, but there is something about a cooked breakfast on a plane which is very appealing as you probably have noted on this trip!
Although 3 of the 4 F trips on this journey have been in full cabins, for some reason this one seemed much busier, with people up and down all the time for the last 3 hours, glad I wasn’t trying to get any more sleep.
We must have been quite delayed after pushback as the captain noted we had made up a lot of time through the night, but because of curfew we were not allowed to land until 6am.
At 5 minutes past 6 we touched down on 34R and made our way back to the terminal. The BA
777 as BA15 had already arrived, but otherwise the terminal looked empty of arrivals which augured well for a quick trip through customs and immigration.
This was the case for immigration, there was no line at all, I went straight to an agent, who stamped my passport and sent me on. Bags on the other hand took a very long time to arrive, and it was another 15 minutes before I was able to collect my bags and head home.
Being my first time in First I did enjoy the flights, and it was interesting to compare QF
. Even though I am a Kiwi, I will always support QF
, however I feel that in my experiences of this trip, BA
service came out miles ahead, shame the seats look considerable more tired than the QF
equivalent. I must note though, having flown J and Y also on QF
, the QF
service is better in those classes.
Now my only problem is my girlfriend has seen the photos and menus, and told me I must take her somewhere First Class…..looks like more FF
earning flights for me!
Next trip, back to France – Bordeaux in 5 weeks, and with that, I will make my annual average mileage [100K] in 5 months.
Thanks for reading