Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA107
Aircraft: Boeing 777-236/ER
Seat: 03K (First)
Distance: 3421 miles
Duration: 7hrs 10mins
Date: Thursday 15th May
Photo © John K. Jonaitis Jr.
Photo © SilverWingPix
At the time of booking this flight was due to leave from Terminal 5, alas this flight instead became one of, if not, my last from Terminal 4. My father drove Kirstin and myself to what had become something of a building site since my last passage. The old set down area was closed off and had been moved further from the building itself with the walkways into the building being riddled with puddles.
The First check-in area was completely empty and so formalities were dealt with very quickly, although for a 12.40pm departure we were told to be at the gate 45 minutes beforehand. Eh? There was a similar "wait" for security so my last Terminal 4 experience on BA was rather positive so far. We went straight to the Lounge Pavilion and aimed downstairs to the Elemis Spa and were 'greeted' by the staffer outside the Concorde Room with a delightful Estuary accent, 'Got a Gold card?', assuming we were going to the First lounge. My response was just to look like I knew what I was doing rather than come up with something snide, 'Yes, and I'm in First too' .
Once again we were to be disappointed by the Elemis Spa experience. Even though I usually arrive at the spa more than two hours in advance my percentage of successful appointments has nose-dived since the spa went from Molton Brown to Elemis control. My wife was booked into a standby spot in case of cancellation but confusingly I was not...a little annoyed we went back upstairs to the Concorde Room. The staffer said, 'That was quick' and as we walked into the CCR she muttered an 'Oh'.
I put my bags down at some seats beside the window and went to the bar to get a bacon roll. I was told that they had run out of bacon! Those who have read my other reports will know this is borderline disaster I asked if there was any in the First lounge downstairs which prompted them to get some from there themselves! A few minutes later and it was brought over to my seat.
This picture will be no surprise to those who have read my previous BA First reports!
My wife went downstairs for her potential cancellation and although it didn't materialize they did put her in one of the massage chairs for a fifteen minute appointment which she enjoyed. Afterwards she went to try and get a bacon roll but they had run completely out and so took a tomato and mushroom baguette instead.
An announcement was made that an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft had a heavy landing on the northern runway and that it was closed with all upcoming flights delayed by at least an hour. I went straight down to the spa once again to see if my new found delay opens anything up. I booked a 12pm appointment in the chair and also a rather optimistic 1pm full body massage.
The Terminal 4 Concorde Room, for possibly the last time
Upon my return I noticed that a bag had been on the seats across from where I'd been sat for almost an hour so let one of the lounge wardens know about it. They came over and opened the briefcase noting it belonged to a Qantas passenger on a long layover. We start chatting about Terminal 5, health and safety and various other topics for a few minutes until it is time for me to head to the spa.
The chair was surprisingly comfortable and quite relaxing, although the Concorde Room staff hadn't had any news to confirm the flight had been delayed yet so I was keeping half an eye out at my watch...Upon my return to the CCR I was told eighteen passengers had boarded our flight but they'd make an announcement about a good time for us to make the short walk to gate 14. That announcement came five minutes later and by the time we got to the gate the SlowTrack boarding line was rather long, but First/Club World was empty.
At door 2L I was greeted and escorted to my seat and offered washbag, sleeper suit and drink. I noticed this was one of the GE-90 equipped 777s with tiddly PTV screens and 12 channels of IFE. When the goodies arrive I was offered Macadamia nuts and subsequently arabic coffee and a date.
Local coffee with a date with Macadamias plus washbag
As we got comfortable we were told that we were delayed waiting for a passenger who checked in, with bags, and managed to go missing. Who are these people? Where do they go? As we wait for this one passenger we were informed that we'd missed our slot, were to be delayed another hour and that we were free to use mobile phones and electronics. This caused the woman in 4K to go into overdrive chatting at very high volume and with phone ringing off the hook at about 120dB.
Menus were handed out and we were given some time to peruse the options before deciding. The CSD opted to come and introduce himself at this time, although it was a little wooden. He said exactly the same thing to everyone and had to stare down at the passenger list before using our names. It was rather awkward...
After some time in my own seat, watching the departures from 09R I went to sit in my wife's buddy seat where canapes and a glass of Chablis were served.
Canapes in 02K
I noticed the aircraft's registration in the galley and somewhat coincidentally it was the same 777 I flew when I emigrated to the US in 2005, and my wife was sitting in the same seat I sat in on that flight.
At around 2.05pm, almost ninety minutes after scheduled departure we were told we were ready for the off. We taxied down to the end of 09R, with CX252 on the other side of the runway mirroring our journey. This brought a smile to my face as I knew we would be on that very flight in eight days time. As we waited for the traffic to clear my wife spotted a fox running perilously down the taxiway towards us from the runway threshold. I wonder how long he'd survive in the middle of Heathrow?
Terminal 5 and CX252
Departing Heathrow on runway 09R
We deviated little from the initial bearing as we tracked across London, although thick cloud cover obscured any potential good views. There was some light chop as we came across Germany but there was a little to do but watch the crew raise the level of Chablis in my glass.
Almost exactly one hour after takeoff I went back to my wife's buddy seat for lunch. We both started off with the smoked salmon which was pretty good, the portion was quite stingy, however, based on SFO-LHR a couple of days before this wasn't necessarily a bad thing
Loch Fyne Baltic salmon with horseradish creme fraiche
Next up was the salad which was pretty boring, it tasted exactly like the stuff they serve in Club World. I decided to leave half of it behind...
Fresh salad leaves with balsamic dressing
My wife had green lentil soup which I passed on and so the next course was duck, a favourite of mine, but the first time in memory I've had it in the air on BA. I thought this was quite good, I suspect duck is quite a tough meat to cook airborne but the result wasn't bad. The sauce helped the drier bits along nicely.
Roast breast of Gressingham duck with juniper berry jus, dauphinoise potatoes, mashed neeps and a panache of green vegetables
The roles from our SFO-LHR flight were reversed and my wife was too full to carry on whereas I was looking to finish the lunch event. The baked apple sounded like it fitted the bill, and it did. The vanilla sauce was superb and I kept re-pouring it over the apple itself.
Liam Tomlin's baked apple with nut and fruit filling served with vanilla sauce
After around one hour of meal service I went back to my own seat for a bit and took a few pics...
1) Seat 2F
2) The GE-90 on this BA 777
3) The interesting cloud formations over Eastern Europe
4) Other traffic in the neighbourhood
As we passed over the Black Sea coast the second loop of movies started, this being one of the BA's fleet yet, if ever, to be equipped with AVOD. I decided to watch 'National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets', not exactly intellectual viewing but good fun for a flight.
As I watched the movie I noticed the crew seemed extremely absent, quite a few of the passengers were getting some shuteye but for those who aren't a quick pass through the cabin every twenty minutes or so can't hurt, can it?
I almost made it through the film but fell asleep just before the end and woke during the credits. By this time we were passing just over Baghdad and needed some hydration so used the call button for water delivery.
The route of BA107
Nearing Kuwait I see the afternoon tea slot approaching and not fancying any of the sandwich options I asked about the ravioli from the 'Snacks' section of the menu. These are available any time throughout the flight and can handily act as a backup if the main options look unappealing, and this was one such case!
The ravoili was served up with bread and unusually, or perhaps not, a bottle of Tabasco sauce. This seemed an interesting way to add a bit of bite to the dish and I slopped a fair bit on to the extent one of the crew said the entire cabin smelled of the stuff, in a polite way of course! (hopefully! )
Ravioli with four cheese filling served with tomato and basil sauce
This course was actually pretty tasty, certainly better than the sandwiches which seem to be a lame second course on pretty much any daytime route in First.
The clearing of the table indicated as good a time as any to change back to civvies and my wife grabbed our clothes from the locker at the rear of the cabin. The final preparations for landing were all made very quickly and the twenty minutes to landing call was done despite the fact we were circling around fifty miles west of the field with little prospect of landing in the next forty minutes, let alone twenty! The flightdeck had even told us that only one runway at DXB was open (like LHR!) but eventually you could just hear all the right noises that indicated it was our turn to land.
The approaching lights of the city and the Burj Dubai in the distance towering above them signalled our final approach onto runway 12L but it wasn't all over there. The taxi round to our gate seemed to be never ending and I breathed a sigh of relief once we finally docked up.
The walk from the gate to immigration underneath the apron seemed quite long but we did climb the the stairs to find FastTrack immigration open (nice idea! ) and completely empty, much like the majority of the desks to be honest! Then there was a hop through security-lite (no belts off, no WTMDs or liquids out etc) and to baggage reclaim. It took a few minutes for the bags to come through but ours were one of the first and then it was through customs (the group ahead of us got taken in) and to meet our driver for the ride to the hotel. The 1hr+ delays at each end of the journey had resulted in us being really quite tired and as we relaxed with a bottle of water en-route to Jumeirah Beach we were glad we weren't in the roasting heat trying to get a taxi!
Verdict: Sometimes ground operations don't work in your favour; delays at both Dubai and London that were outside BA's control didn't help the cause.
However, the flight itself was pretty good, with every flight I take I find the service is more and more the make or break for me. The crew on this flight were pretty friendly, making a few light hearted comments here and there which is always a good sign. If only they could have taught the CSD a thing or two All things said I'd had better (and worse!) crews in First than the friendly group on BA107.
Another flight, another failed attempt at getting an Elemis Spa appointment...need I say more?