My original plan was to fly nonstop LHR-DFW on BA. AA looked full, plus it was one of the two days of the week presently where AA flies a 767-300 LHR-DFW on flight AA78/79. I definitely wanted to be on a 777. BA filled up at the last minute--literally in the last three days it went from having more than 30 open seats to less than five. So, I looked around at my nonreving resources and found that the earlier of the two IAH flights on BA was very empty. I did this at an internet cafe at LHR Terminal 3, after returning from MAN, before going to the hotel, because I knew the AA ticket sales desk would still be open. After verifying that BA had lots of seats open, I went to the AA sales desk and bought an employee pass on BA to IAH. I already had a pass on CO IAH-DFW because, well, I usually have one of these on me as IAH is one of my favorite airports to visit at a moment's notice.
So I went back to the Renaissance, went into the club lounge where they have a computer where you can access the internet for free, and I made my employee reservation on BA to Houston. Then I left for Oxford to spend the evening among some of my favorite surroundings.
Monday morning, I woke at about 6:00am and got ready for the day, and packed up. With the plane-spotter's package at the Renaissance, it includes the full breakfast buffet, which is a big event. I stuck to the full English, but they had a huge variety of food. Then it was time to get to Terminal 4. Terminal 4 was the big exciting terminal at Heathrow, and now it is the most remote step-child of a terminal. From the airport hotels there is no easy way to get there. I asked the concierge what is the most convenient way, and he said he suggests to everyone to just book a taxi! The free buses and the Heathrow Hotel Hoppa shuttle bus go to terminals 1,2,3 and 5.
I had my return Hoppa ticket, which was part of my spotter's package, and it was pouring down rain, so I decided to ride the Hoppa to any of terminals 1, 2, or 3, getting off at the first one, and then taking the Heathrow Connect train to Terminal 4 (which is free for airport transfers).
From the time I left the Renaissance to the time I was checked in and through security at Terminal 4 was only about an hour, so it wasn't quite as bad as I have suggested.
I had done my homework, especially after being advised by a friend, of the hidden location of BA's Terminal 4 staff travel desk. It's on the arrivals level rather than departures. I walked up to the desk and the BA employee directed me to the self service kiosk to check in and then she would tag my bag. So I turned around and went to the kiosk, which immediately allocated me a seat on this empty flight, and let me choose my seat.
It opened up rows 27 to 39 on the 777. I pushed the "move forward" button a few times, but it wouldn't let me upgrade myself! The last time BA put me in World Traveller, I took seat 39K which was the last row and only has two seats rather than three. Keeping that in mind, I selected 39K and the machine said "sorry, your chosen seat is no longer available, please select another" and this time 39HK were not available. So I realized this was a race! I quickly chose 39A, even though I preferred to sit on the right side of the plane, knowing the sun would be a bother on the left side.
My luggage consisted of a typical 22' carryon, but I had to check it due to the fact that I had purchased LIQUIDS! I decided to comply with the rules rather than listen to security personnel tell me I am a security threat because I possibly intended to hijack a plane with some nice hand lotion for my mother! So I checked my bag to IAH. I didn't even bother asking if they would check it to my onward destination. It didn't really matter anyway, since I had to reclaim my bag in Houston anyway.
The agent was very friendly. I was hoping she would say, "sir, we have decided to reseat you in club world" but alas she didn't. She tagged my bag and then told me to go out a certain exit, and the look for a certain desk number. I followed her instruction and found the desk, which was a baggage checking desk. It was adjacent to Air Malta or Air Mauritius or some airline that was definitely not BA. There was a BA agent there talking to someone. I showed him my bag, which he took and placed on the belt for me.
There was not a long line at security, and it was rather painless. Once again I didn't have to remove my shoes, which I always appreciate.
When I got through security, it was the first time I've been in the departures area of Terminal 4 in like 10 years. I have arrived Terminal 4 a few times in the last few years, but this was my first time in the departures area, and it seemed strange. The departure gates kind of blended into the shops, where it caught me by surprise. There weren't many windows at all from Terminal 4, but I found one here:
My first time at a KQ gate. Here's one of their 777s. You can see how ugly the weather was.
OK for those of you who actually read this, you'll see that the point of this picture might not be the 747. Look above it. See the SQ A380?
Here it is more zoomed in.
And here it is compared with a huge A340-600.
I walked the terminal and liked the shopping but didn't like the absence of windows. So I decided to make my way to the Priority Pass lounge, which is called the Holideck Lounge. Outside the lounge, which is at about gate 15, it has a sign that it is really three lounges in one. The standard lounge area, then one floor up is a sports bar, and then on top is the "flight deck" which is an observation area! I think they sell individual day passes. When I went inside I noticed the sign that said it was Priority Pass' lounge of the year a year or two ago. It was vast and spacious, and had lots of food and drink available on a self service basis.
I went for the flight deck up top.
Up there I was impressed with the view but disappointed about the weather. There was a fellow aviation enthusiast up there whom I chatted with for a bit. He was flying to the USA for his first time. Flying NWA to ORD via DTW. He was worried because his NWA flight was over two hours delayed and he was afraid he was going to miss his DC9 connection. But then again he was concerned about flying a DC9! He told me he flies business class with his company, but the other airlines were $2000 higher than NWA for a business class ticket to Chicago, so he went with them, though he wasn't impressed so far with either the delay or the thought of a DC9!
Sorry for the rainy windows, but I'm putting in the picture anyway. Continental at Terminal 4 needs to not be cut from my report! This CO777 was Houston-bound and was 3 hours late.
I was taking a pic of the BA 767 that was pushing, but I didn't know at the time that the 777 on the left of the pic at the gate was going to be my plane to IAH.
Now, shall I mention my flight, or is it not yet enough introduction? I think I'll go ahead.
777-200 G-VIIK, featuring power by GE90
Seat 24A. Load factor less than 40%
My flight was to depart at 10:30, but I thought it was 10:40 for some reason. At 10:05 I went down to the "sports deck" to check the monitor, and it said it was boarding, and it was at one of the far gates, (as you can see from the picture), so I had to hurry! I lost track of time watching aircraft take off on 09R.
When I walked up to the gate, they were just announcing boarding, and it was a general boarding call for all passengers, so I went right on. I think I was the second person to board!
A friendly flight attendant greeted me and asked to see my boarding pass. I showed it to her, and she then asked to inspect it closer. I told her that I knew where my seat was. She asked again if she could have my boarding pass for a moment. I gave it to her. She then asked "Are you staff travel?" I responded that I was. She asked if I was BA staff. I responded that I was AA staff. Then she gave me the name of one of the cabin crew, who should be in the rear galley and asked me to have a word with her.
So I went to the rear of the plane and asked for her, and one of the staff waved her over to me. I told her I was asked to have a word with you and I introduced myself as a member of AA staff. She then spoke to me in such a low voice I couldn't really hear (because other pax were nearby) but I got the idea that she was improving my seating.
She told me to follow her and she took me to seat 24A after asking if I prefer window or aisle seats. She also told me that nobody was in seat 24B (she had a very long list of her available seats). So, once again, BA gave me World Traveller Plus. This is the fourth time out of five trips on BA transatlantic where they have let me sit in World Traveller Plus, so I guess they like me!
Here's the view from my window. As I sat there before we pushed out, I kept waiting for the cabin to fill up, but it never did. I remember from the computer that the afternoon flight was fuller, but this one was very empty. It was bank holiday in London and Memorial Day in Houston, so it wasn't a big travel day.
As we pushed out I got another view of the beautiful KQ paint scheme.
I always enjoy the BA safety video/cartoon. I'm not sure if they stole the idea from VS or if VS did from BA, but it's always something I look for. The crew were very professional. Before taking their seats, the "in charge" flight attendant of World Traveller and World Traveller Plus checked on me to make sure my seat was satisfactory and everything was OK. She gave me lots of attention for the whole flight as if I were a premium customer.
We taxied out to 09R for takeoff. It wasn't a long wait for the runway. Here is the takeoff video, and, just like my LHR-MAN takeoff from the previous day, keep your eyes open for the SQA380 after we rotate.
I think the AA 777 you can see as we take the runway was the nonstop to DFW as it was scheduled to leave at this time as well!
Then at the London 2 DME we turned right to 220 and began our climb. (I expected this after listening to the instructions on my scanner while observing from the Renaissance).
Not long into our climb they started with a drink service.
From this picture you can see the amount of legroom in World Traveller Plus.
See how empty the cabin was!
As we reached our initial cruise altitude of 34,000 and approached the North Atlantic over Ireland, I looked back and noticed that I could easily see my aircraft's contrail! I've only seen it once before and that was at night once. Here I was sitting right on the wing, but could easily see the contrail. There wasn't a way to take a picture of it, but you can make it out on the video I took of you look to the left side of the screen.
The only other time I have seen my own contrail was when I was on a BA 777, like this one (maybe the GE90s put out a bigger contrail then RR Trent?) and I was in the last row that time.
At about the same time, they served lunch. It was a good quality lunch and full of all the British bits that I was hoping for. The oatcakes, chocolate, etc. As you can see, BA gives you a bottle of wine even in economy. So friendly of them!
The World Traveller Plus cabin has 38' pitch and has a legrest plus a footbar, which lets you stretch out a bit. Its recline is more than normal as well. Plus there's a comfortable headrest built into the seat. I slept for most of the North Atlantic Crossing. We took a southerly route, which is always a disappointment. If you have seen my CDG trip report you see my enthusiasm for the northern routes!
Another thing I like about BA is that the cabin crew don't make a big fuss about whether the windows are left open or closed. Some flight attendants on DL and AA have been downright rude about it. In my case I left at least one window partly open most of the time, and when we hit land I opened them up, because I enjoy trying to figure out where we are. I usually prefer the moving map over the programming. I did watch part of a movie, though now I don't remember which one. As far as comedy shows, I was hoping for the British Comedy, which they show to the UK but not from the UK. From the UK is American Comedy.
I realized something about myself. I'm nearly as much of a geography nerd as I am an aviation nerd! I always want to know where we are and what our route is going to be and I try to make out landmarks. The moving map really helps in this respect.
Here is New York City. Now look again at the top left of the picuture. You can see we are lined up for runways 13L and 13R at JFK! Going to London I took off on 31L and banked left around that bay that you can see there.
And here is EWR.
Here's just a nice wing shot somewhere around PHL.
And here is BWI.
And this is Washington DC, though it's not clear. Not that any of my pics here are clear!!
Here is DCA Reagan Nat'l.
Random shot of our speed, though it had just flipped to metric as I took the picture. Didn't realize that until now!
Near HSV, here's an AA MD80 headed toward DFW.
Now as we are about 90 minutes from Houston they serve us another meal. I didn't know what to expect, but look at the packaging.
Hopefully you can read this. It's the inside cover of my sandwich box. It really appeals to my aptitude for useless trivia. These little touches mean a lot to me, though I bet most people don't care!
The main contents of the sandwich box were two very tasty sandwiches, and very British, because I didn't even know what they were as I ate them, so I surely don't know what they are now! But they were very tasty. One had a really sharp cheese. There were also some fresh Chilean grapes in there, which is unusual to find in airline food. I considered that this snack pack is actually much better than the pizza AA gives in first class.
Here's a view of our route of flight.
During the flight I broke down and bought some sunglasses, which I was in bad need of. They had problems with the credit card machine, so I got to talk to the cabin crew for a while. They were generally excited about going to Houston. The only one who had been there before was the one who seated me in WTP (as she was really senior) but she had done the LHR ORD IAH ORD LHR trip. (If you are curious about that one, I did a trip report on it a couple years ago--BA294 or BA295 is the title).
I talked to them about good restaurants, as Houston is one of my favorite cities, although I didn't know the location of their hotel. They were a fun crew, and very relaxed because it was such an empty flight. Most of them were pretty junior and seemed to be really enjoying their jobs. Last weekend I flew in first class on AA to LAS and the flight attendant seemed annoyed that I was onboard the plane whenever I spoke to her or whenever I attempted to go to the lavatory! Anyway, sorry for digressing---back to the BA flight LHR to IAH.
Now we are getting closer to Houston.
Jackson, MS airport.
Crossing into my home state of Louisiana. Here's the Mississippi River.
I was hoping to somehow make out New Orleans, but instead I could see thunderstorms over New Orleans off in the distance.
Here we are at the top of descent as we begin our way down into Houston.
Here's the IAH airport. We flew over the north of it to the west and then turned around to land on 08L.
Looking down 15L/R
Landing at Houston.
And we parked at Terminal D next to the LH 744. Air France was to our Right and KLM was just past it.
It was one of those flights where I regretted that it was time to deplane, but all good things must come to an end! I'll be back on BA in WTP in July (I bought a ticket DFW-LHR-DFW for Farnborough--not wanting to nonrev that one after a bad experience two years ago).
Deplaning with a few Club World shots.
The good thing about landing in Houston is the fact that you're at the Houston airport!! I love planespotting in Houston and do it from time to time, since it's so easy to get there from DFW. The last time I went through customs at IAH was way before Terminal E was built and I was arriving from Cozumel on CO after a scuba diving trip.
A view of my plane.
And the other side.
The customs and immigration hall was centralized between Terminal D and E. As we arrived, there were lots of CO arrivals from Mexico and it was very busy. The immigration officer asked me how long I was in Mexico. I said, well I haven't been there in a few years, but I spend the weekend in the UK! He apologized and said that the last 20 people had all been in Mexico. The officer was nice and after that exchange said welcome home and let me go.
The good thing about a long wait at passport control is that you don't have to wait for a bag in the baggage reclaim. I just grabbed it off the carousel and exited with no problems from any of the customs officials.
I didn't have a definite plan on how I was going to DFW. I knew AA was pretty full and had heard from a fellow a.netter that CO was empty, thanks to a transatlantic text message. I sat down, called the AA nonrev phone system, which said there were like 9 seats open and 28 people listed. Then I started thinking, I'm at the CO terminal (downstairs from CO's Term E check in). If I take CO, I can go to Term D and check out the foreign planes plus go to the Terminal E Continental President's club. If I take AA I'd have to travel to terminal A and then get a middle seat in the back of an MD80 as a best case scenario.
So I took the escalator upstairs to check-in and it was very empty (Memorial Day). A friendly CO staffer checked me in, though I didn't get a seat until I was at the gate. He told me it was wide open though. Flying on another carrier I had the SSSS on my boarding pass, so I got the extra special screening. I was the only person going through security at the time--talk about a slow afternoon!
Once I went through, I turned left into Terminal D.
I think I have this picture in like 4 trip reports now, but some might be on houstonspotters.net. Anyway, sorry to repeat myself, but here's my plane with the LH 744 underway to FRA.
Air France's 777-200.
The Privatair BBJ (737) flying nonstop to AMS for KLM!
Air France's A330
Aeromexico Connect E170
Continental's Beautiful Terminal E.
This is from Continental's Terminal E President's Club. I thought this 757-200 was the one I flew EWR-BRS, but was wrong. I flew #110, not #130.
View of the ramp.
Then I went to my gate in Terminal C, where they announced that all standbys had been cleared. So I got my seat and was given a window. The middle seat remained empty and there were plenty of seats open.
The view inside.
The view outside.
I'm really fond of this takeoff video, so please take a look if I haven't exhausted your patience by now! At IAH there's always a sharp turn at about 400' and sometimes you get a great view of the airport. This was one of those times.
Here's a pic of what you would see if you watched the video!
It was a quick flight on the CO 733 to DFW. We did have a fast beverage service. Before long we were descending into DFW.
LUV field. Dallas Love if you don't get the pun!
And finally the landing at DFW.
By the way, some of the more astute readers might have noticed that some of the IAH pictures were taken when it was darker than the time of the IAH takeoff. 4 pictures were from a trip through IAH that was 6 days after the first one. I hope you don't mind!
Thanks for reading this far if you made it! Comments are always enjoyed!
See, I knew American Eagle was first class all along!
Excellent TR as always. You've had good treatment on BA in getting moved up to WTP. It might not be as nice as first class on AA 777's but it's still nice.
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): Another thing I like about BA is that the cabin crew don't make a big fuss about whether the windows are left open or closed. Some flight attendants on DL and AA have been downright rude about it
Some are and some aren't. If I were a revenue passenger and an f/a was rude, I might make more of a deal about it, but I won't since I'm a non rev.
I used to live in Houston, and IAH was a nice airport for spotting. I used to go to the car parks on top of the terminals.
Another cool trip report to my home airport IAH and on BA! I usually miss out getting that aerial shot of IAH after take off! Also nice shot of EK at IAH! Hopefully by September, you'll get to see SQ among the European line up if you take another trip on BA or a random spotting tour to IAH. Thanks!
Quoting Triple7man (Reply 3): A 737 nonstop IAH to AMS? Does it have that kind of range? I didn't think it did.
As mentioned this is a BBJ flown by Privatair for KL in all J. Previously, this flight was a regular KL flight on a 767 with strong J loads and rather poor Y. KL contracted with Privatair on this flight and is the only one in KL schedules. I believe the plane utilizes KL's J seats along with the KL Delft house given at the end of the flight, while the FAs work for Privatair. I'm not sure with Flying Blue or WorldPerks, but on CO you cannot book a mileage ticket on this flight, and I also heard, but not sure, you cannot non-rev on this flight as well for revenue reasons.
The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
Quoting CALRAMPER (Reply 2): I still need to fly to LHR on the CO 777(farmbrough)
Hope to see you there!
Quoting Triple7man (Reply 3): A 737 nonstop IAH to AMS? Does it have that kind of range? I didn't think it did.
It is fitted with auxillary tanks and the weight is very restricted. 42 or 44 passengers and there's actually a limit of 85 checked pieces of luggage, I think. It's on privatair's website. They have 4 flight attendants onboard.
Yes, EK sends the 777-200LR on the 17 hour flight from one Gulf to the other Gulf.
Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 4): Hopefully by September, you'll get to see SQ among the European line up if you take another trip on BA or a random spotting tour to IAH.
I had the good fortune about a week ago where CO delayed my 9:00pm flight to DFW. It was delayed due to a "situation" and the "deep cleaners" were onboard. We left at 9:30pm, and while taxiing out, I saw SQ's tail next to AF. My first time to see the SQ 777-300 at IAH.
Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 4): I'm not sure with Flying Blue or WorldPerks, but on CO you cannot book a mileage ticket on this flight
Once I actually had a reservation on this, using American Express Membership miles, but I'm not sure if it was CO or DL. I really think it was CO miles that I was using. That was two years ago. I ended up not doing it--I used the miles to fly CO and NW mainline transatlantic in business class. Maybe you can't use miles for it anymore. I know you can't nonrev on Privatair.
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): I'll be back on BA in WTP in July (I bought a ticket DFW-LHR-DFW for Farnborough--not wanting to nonrev that one after a bad experience two years ago).
I'm taking CO through the "beautiful terminal E" to Farnborough. Are you staying at the Renaissance while in London then? I considered it, but since I've never been to London before, getting from LHR to central London every day to see other things would have been less economical and rather time consuming.
Thanks for the photos and report ... a pleasure to read. The weather in London indeed looks appalling ... sadly, a common occurrence.
I'm glad the staff did what they could for you ... a shame they couldn't have made the effort to push you up a little further into Club, but it really depends on the CSD you get on the day ... the WT/WT+ Purser can only authorise upgrades within his/her cabin ... you need to have a nice CSD on your flight to get anything better
WT+ is soon getting some enhacements (noise-reduction headsets, new pillows/fabric, greater choice of newspapers (well ... a choice of the Daily Mail or Telegraph ) and a new amenity kit ... I expect even better improvements in the future. The airline is losing market share in that cabin to its competitors.
Speedmarque, the author is apparently AA staff so I wouldn't expect them to know about BA procedures ... I wouldn't interpret it as rudeness at all ... I think you need to perhaps show a little more understanding of the customer's point of view, not just crews'.
- the only time I have ever been downgraded was at LAX on an ID-90 travelling with a full-fare M passenger.
We were given 2 seats in J, and then 'Special Sevices' asked for our boarding passes right before doors-closing, he took one look at the staff-travel code on the boarding pass and said, ' We'll soon fix that' and promptly found 2 Economy seats - making a point of escorting us to those seats and upgrading the other 2 pax
ah well - some you win, some you lose (but that was really humiliating to be escorted in front of 260 Economy pax...)
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): it was time to get to Terminal 4. Terminal 4 was the big exciting terminal at Heathrow, and now it is the most remote step-child of a terminal. From the airport hotels there is no easy way to get there. I asked the concierge what is the most convenient way, and he said he suggests to everyone to just book a taxi! The free buses and the Heathrow Hotel Hoppa shuttle bus go to terminals 1,2,3 and 5.
- interesting to see, I would have assumed the hotel hoppers would still run to T4.
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): Up there I was impressed with the view but disappointed about the weather. There was a fellow aviation enthusiast up there whom I chatted with for a bit. He was flying to the USA for his first time. Flying NWA to ORD via DTW. He was worried because his NWA flight was over two hours delayed and he was afraid he was going to miss his DC9 connection. But then again he was concerned about flying a DC9! He told me he flies business class with his company, but the other airlines were $2000 higher than NWA for a business class ticket to Chicago, so he went with them, though he wasn't impressed so far with either the delay or the thought of a DC9!
- Hmm, does not sound like he was an enthusiast to me!
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): The main contents of the sandwich box were two very tasty sandwiches, and very British, because I didn't even know what they were as I ate them, so I surely don't know what they are now! But they were very tasty. One had a really sharp cheese. There were also some fresh Chilean grapes in there, which is unusual to find in airline food. I considered that this snack pack is actually much better than the pizza AA gives in first class
- I'd agree with the whole pizza thing, think it's quite pathetic of AA to offer that to First customers, I recall getting it as a Y passenger!