Trip Report BA 66 PHL-LHR 3 July 2008
You can tell you are a geek when you schedule a work-related trip from PHL to London with a goal of selecting flights that gave you seats on two different aircraft models rather than on straight time schedule. Acknowledging this, I booked a trip on BA using a 772 for the eastbound trip and a 763 for the westbound trip.
I checked in online at ba.com 24 hours prior – easy! Seat options were good in World Traveler Plus.
I arrived at PHL to drop off luggage at approximately 15:00 local time. The BA change to Terminal A West is certainly an improvement over the last time I flew with them – we went out of A East and it was a dump. The express bag drop was somewhat slow but decent given that BA only handles two outgoing flights a day out of PHL.
On the subject of A West, there is a good selection of food and other ‘stuff,’ though the terminal is beginning to look rundown and just less than well maintained. Dirty floors and rugs, worn spots on walls and rugs, etc are very visible throughout the area, even on the three gates that seem to be primarily used by LH, BA, and AF. Walking through the terminal, the US gates seemed to be equally poor, particularly since some of them did not have the high ceiling that we had with the BA flight.
The aircraft [G-VIID] had arrived on time serving BA 067. We began boarding the aircraft at about 17:30 and, impressively for any flight at PHL, pushed back before our departure time at 18:10. We were in the air by 18:40 – not bad by PHL standards – and settled in for a pleasant cruise.
The aircraft had a clean, well-maintained interior with no more wear than some spots on the armrest that receive constant use.
My seat in WT+ was comfortable enough – the reduction of one seat per row in the BA configuration on widebodies is quite nice – and being on a 772 was even better. The BA crew promptly did a beverage service followed by a hot dinner [the choice was chicken with mushrooms or salmon – I chose the chicken, which was both hot and tasty enough for an airline meal] with a second beverage service.
Folks around me used the IFE system, though I had a good novel and relaxed with that until I nodded off for the trip.
The crew was present and friendly, and beverages were always available. Breakfast was served before our arrival at LHR [yogurt, fruit, etc], again with multiple coffee/tea service.
Arrival at LHR – Terminal 4 unfortunately – was easy, with prompt baggage delivery and a relatively easy experience with HM Customs and Immigration.
I returned to PHL on 8 July on BA 069 – a flight operated by G-BNWN, a 763, out of LHR Terminal 4. Given the size of the BA operation, bag drop was far quicker than at PHL. Security was thorough, but somewhat less harried than in the United States. The laptop remained in the carryon and I did not have to take off my shoes – a pleasant change from the routine on this side of the Atlantic.
Again, the WT+ seating was comfortable [6 across on a 767!] and the aircraft seemed to be in good condition. The interior was clearly of an older design, but the aircraft seemed clean and welcoming. The aircraft was scheduled to depart at 16:15 – we boarded at about 15:30 and, again, were ready to pushback and taxi by 16:10. Taxi to the runway was quick and we were airborne by 16:30.
Beverage service began within fifteen minutes of departure and, again, the crew was both attentive and hospitable. A hot lunch was served – the choice was chicken tarragon or fish pie [I had the chicken] – and there was a second beverage service while lunch was served. After lunch, there were three additional juice/water services before a snack was served about an hour before arrival. The snack [sandwich, juice, water, fruit, etc] was tasty and, again, was accompanied by a beverage service.
An ontime arrival at PHL [17:05] was met with ground traffic, slow baggage delivery, and an immigration experience that was, uniquely, Philadelphia.
The experience was extremely pleasant and, in the future, I would rank BA as my first choice to the UK if, for no other reason, than the incredible affordability of World Traveller Plus for those of us on a business budget.
Good job BA!