Farewell to bmi transatlantic service
Here is one of the my February trip reports and it is a rather sad occasion. BMI
announced its ending of all transatlantic operation last year and as a fan of bmi transatlantic service, I feel that it is only right if I fly from the US to Manchester on one of its beautiful Airbus A330-200s again. Unfortunately, I can’t make it to the last ORD
flight, which was my original intention, and after searching through www.flybmi.com,
I found a business class reward flight from Las Vegas to Manchester on February 12, 2009, so I jumped on it. It is an interesting flight for me, as it is my first flight flying out from an international flight from Las Vegas and finally a eastbound transatlantic flight on bmi. Here is my full report.
February 12, 2009
Lv1350 Arr0740+1 Airbus A330-200 G-WWBB
Swissport is the official agent for bmi here at Las Vegas. There were separate lines for economy, premium economy, and business/Star Gold members, and the agents were friendly. There was no wait, but the J agent was busy on the phone. It took her five minutes before waving me over. She was efficient but here was my only problem for this trip. I had booked 1K for this flight, but when I got my boarding pass, I saw 3G
, which is an aisle seat. I immediately asked her what had happened to my original seat. She just did not know what happen and could not find me another window seat. It was quite upsetting as it was possibly my last bmi transatlantic flight. Well nothing could be done. She was quite apologetic about it and immediately told me where the lounge was.
Most international flights here at LAS
used terminal two, which was very simple, compared to the newer terminal one especially Concourse D. Well it was better than I thought, and when I asked the TSA
agent if there were any food outlets inside the secure area, she was actually friendly and told me that there were a few typical fast food outlets and coffee joints. TSA
was not busy as the flights were quite spread out and as you can tell from the screen, there were not many flights.
There was one single lounge here at T-2, and it was called the Las Vegas Lounge. The lounge was rather average with few armchairs, a bar area, a small business center and basic restroom facilities. Nothing too special, but the staffs were extremely kind and made the plain lounge experience a bit better. Snacks were limited to packaged ones, cheese and crackers, and light snacks, and there was an open bar staffed by one of the nice attendants (no self-serving beverage stations – alcoholic or non-alcoholic), but I struggled if I should tip the attendant!
G-VTOP Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747-400 “Virginia Plain” from London LGW
XA-ZIM and N997AM Aeromexico’s Boeing 737-700 Winglet
I saw an interesting airline, Sunwing, which was featured on my photo album. They operated their “very delayed” Calgary flight with a nice looking Boeing 737-800 with winglet.
Gate 4 was our gate this morning, and the aircraft, G-WWBB, arrived Las Vegas only a few minutes behind schedule. BTW, this is my second flight with G-WWBB, but also meant that I am not able to fly all three BD
A330-200s (G-WWBM is still missing from my list). The flight looked pretty full to me and I wonder if the yield is really that dismal for bmi to cancel the flight. Boarding began at 1:28pm, after a few wheelchair passengers got on board. Business class was almost 100% full and the F/As were busy chatting with passengers. Pre-takeoff beverage was offered and champagne kept flowing during the twenty minutes of boarding time. The chef, Phil, passed out the menus for today’s flight. The F/A, Cathy, passed out amenity kits, headsets and hung up coats. The purser, Annie, made her round greeting each business class passengers. Door was closed a minute early at 1:49pm, and we pushed back five minutes later. Las Vegas was not terribly busy at this early afternoon hour. We took off from R/W1R at 2:11pm.
Flying time was nine hours and seventeen minutes, shorter than normal due to flavorful tailwind. The routing took us over Grand Canyon, as we climbed up to 37,000feet. We passed Aurora, Colorado, North Platte, Spencer, Fairmont, Wausau, Escanaba, Sault St. Marin, near Val D’Or, and leave the North American continent by passing Goose Bay, Canada, and we climbed up to 40,000feet. Finally we saw land again as we passed the Irish city of Donegal, and then South of Belfast before descending towards Manchester.
I really like the new generation bmi seats, despite a little lack of storage space, but I rate it above BA
’s Club World. First, the seat looks smart with the beige upholstery and there were quite a number of positions you can choose. Both the seating and full flat sleeping positions are comfortable, and I had a very nice five to six hours sleep, and there is no sliding on the full flat position. The seat does not sink very low. The new television is huge and there are shoe storage bins. There is also a bottled water holder, but the position was a bit odd. I basically think bmi has a good product and competitive if they have the right to start Heathrow to USA service. It is such a waste for relatively short flight to Cairo, but I guess the further Saudi Arabia and Middle East service will be good with it especially the redeye segment.
Beverage and meal:
There were cutbacks from my previous experiences, and there was no longer individual breadbasket (but a very nice choice of warmed soft white or wholemeal brioche rolls were offered on this flight) and the portion can be small for the entrée. Quality is actually better than expected especially outbound from an overseas station. The onboard chef, Phil, spent much time preparing the dish and the presentation looked nothing but gorgeous. The F/As were very generous with additional serving if you requested them. However, they ran out of cheese plate but Cathy immediately offered me a second dessert.
Breakfast order was taken after tea service, and I was surprised that there was not the automatic fruit plate first, and then entrée second. I am just so used to most Asian airlines style – fruit plate and yogurt first, and followed by the entrée. And the menu was written to imply that. But my request for a yogurt after my egg dish was honored with no problem. Breakfast was served around 6:07am Manchester time, an hour and half prior to landing, which was a perfect time – not too early and not too late.
Here is the full menu transcript and wine list.
Champagne Cattier Brut Antique Premier Cru
Cave De Turckheim
Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Colli Perugini Rosso
Sandeman 20 Years Old Tawny Port
Glenlivet 18 Years
Las Vegas to Manchester
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Vegetable and goat’s cheese parcel with tomato chutney
Smoked duck slices with dried fruit compote
Sacchettini filled with ricotta and served with a tomato sauce
Flax and Mustard Seed Crusted Halibut with confetti rice
Grilled chicken breast in an applewood bacon jus with dauphinoise potatoes and oven roasted vegetables
Moroccan lamb chop with citrus and chili sauce, butternut squash, courgette and baby onions
Personal Bakery Selection
Apple Dumpling with caramel sauce
A Trio of mocha, white chocolate and brandy cream mousses
Cheese plate – farmhouse cheddar, Stilton and rouge affine
Express meal option
In order to allow you to maximize your personal time – to sleep, work, or relax – we are pleased to offer an express meal option on this flight, in place of the a la carte meal menu.
Personal Bakery Seleciton with either:
- a mixed seasonal salad and soup
- your choice of one of the main courses
Please let a member of the crew know if you wish to opt for an express meal today.
Barbeque beef and cheddar ciabatta
Cheese plate – farmhouse cheddar, Stilton and rouge affine
Fresh Fruit plate
Freshly ground coffee
Twinings tea selection
Green and Blacks Chocolate
Freshly squeezed orange juice
White peach smoothie
Choice of cereals
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Bakery selection with preserves and marmite
Warm Chocolate Bread
Warm Cinnamon Bread
Freshly prepared white and brown toast
The Great British Breakfast
Crispy bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, rosti potatoes, choice of fresh fried or scrambled eggs from the skillet
Boiled eggs, bread and butter
BusLas-man 08-0111 J3
Definitely the weakest part of the flight, compared to its UK competitors, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. There was no audio video on demand and the movies and television programs run in a cycle. I watched the comedy channel, which was fine, but with a new cabin, I expect an upgrade on the entertainment system. Fortunately, the old system meant the nose view and downward view camera are on, and I can watch the sunrise on my screen despite not having a window. The F/A made an effort to make sure we get the view of takeoff and landing on the PTV.
They are all really friendly and that aspect has not changed. There were three F/As serving the J cabin, with the chef in the galley, and Cathy and one other F/A serving the passengers. The service was not rushed and beverages were refilled during the meal services. Annie, the purser, was very sweet and checked on the J passengers, after the services were completed in the back. I think the friendly F/As on its long haul flights are bmi’s strongest asset (Unfortunately, I can’t quite say the same for the short haul flights though), and I will miss my BD
experience because of them.
There is an amenity kit and you can check out the contents in my photo album. I also rate BD
’s amenity kit above BA
and Virgin (well not really offering an amenity kit, but they have pajamas) and I like the brown and blue leather design. The quality of the bag was not too great and the zipper was already not working after I open them for photo purpose, but I like the leather cardholder or photo frame.
Descent began at 6:58am and we landed on R/W5R at 7:28am. We parked at gate 55 eight minutes later, next to American Airlines’ Boeing 767-300ER N346AN arriving from Chicago. There was no line at immigration, as the AA
flight arrived much earlier and most folks are returning UK residents. The agent asked me many questions but maintained her smile throughout the short Q & A session. Bags came out shortly after I entered the baggage hall. Priority bags made out first and it made a very good ending to my bmi experience. This aircraft will head back to Antigua in a few hours.
I will definitely miss bmi transatlantic service, and sad that they never got a chance to develop flights from London Heathrow to the USA. I heartily thanked Annie and Cathy especially for an excellent flight, as well as the rest of the F/A team.
Next report will be on another high quality regional airline, VLM.
[Edited 2009-02-21 08:54:49]