Part One: X-mas in Portugal 1/3 -- YYZ-LHR-LIS on BA
Part Two: X-mas in Portugal 2/3 -- Easyjet to FNC
8 Jan 2009
After 5 weeks in warm (but wet) Portugal, it was time to return home to snowy Canada. Our 0700 departure required a hotel stay in downtown Lisbon, but LIS is well situated, less than 10 minutes from downtown, or a €6 cab ride.
Even at 0500 there was a short line for check-in. However, the line took about 20 minutes because there was one CSA checking passengers in on the kiosks, no one seemed to go ahead and use them themselves. He seemed quite happy when I asked to use one to check myself in, leading to a few other passengers doing the same. I think the problem might be that there was no Portuguese option on the kiosks, though I may be mistaken.
LIS is quite a chic airport, and very compact because of the over-use of buses. At this hour lines for security and emigration were non-existent, making this the easiest departure of the trip.
The morning lineup.
The Shengen departures area.
The boarding rush. Those blue plastic/rubber seats aren't that good, but at least there is room to lie down if need be.
Boarding started 50 minutes before departure from gate 19, one of the bus gates. PER was parked just north of the terminal, helping us get out 5 minutes early. The front economy was packed, one row even had 6 PAX (BA's 757s are set up so that part of Club class can be repartitioned for Y class. The Club class seats are 5 across with a severely shrunken seat on the left side.) I was surprised that BA is allowed to sell that seat, I can't imagine using it for two hours.
On the other side of the barrier, there was one business class passenger, with 20 seats to himself! Obviously the service was excellent for him .
After a beautiful sunrise take-off to the north we were served a breakfast brioche (roll) with tomato sauce and bacon, followed by a round of drinks.
The roll was pretty bad, but still better than the service on domestic canadian flights -- nothing!
Smoke poking above the flat cloud layer.
The headrests weren't all that great but I still managed to get an hour of sleep before descent. There was no holding this time, and we were on the ground by 0948 and at our gate two minutes later, landing the perfect distance along 27L.
Qatar's advertising is perfectly placed for arriving flights.
A United 7772 coming out of the fog.
Our 757, seen from the open-air stairs.
Because of the T1 setup, we were bussed the long way around to arrivals. After a good walk and a bus ride through the tunnels of LHR we were in T5, where the line for security took a good 15 minutes, even with a good 15 stations open. Not too surprising with the number of connections available.
8 Jan 2009
T5 is quite beautiful inside, a major improvement on most of T1 (and the part of T2 that I saw). However, I was suffering from severe Flying Urination Syndrome, and the washrooms were sparse and hard to notice, tucked away behind some stores. Apart from that, this is a great terminal, especially because gates are announced sooner, allowing you to wait there instead of in the shopping mall as you have to in T1.
The spacious terminal 5.
Down to the bus gates.
Boarding was called just after 1100 from gate A10 (the bus gates downstairs), and half hour later we were on the bus to the far rows of stands (past the future T5C). The economy seats in IIL are cloth-covered (much better than leather IMO, but I think I may be in the minority here) but seemed to have less legroom than the outbound 767.
Ten minutes after our STD, the captain came on the PA system with the announcement that we would be delayed because an earlier BA 777's crew had taken some minor flight deck equipment from our a/c, and now we needed a replacement. Why this hadn't been solved before our departure time is anyone's guess, but I think they may have been trying to skillfully acquire it from another 777.
Twenty minutes later we pushed back, and after the longest taxi and take-off hold we took-off from RWY 27L just before 1300.
Some other aircraft in the departure queue.
A broken 777 (anyone know why the tail and titles are gone?)
Before too long we were served a snack and drinks (with an extra bottle for lunch), followed by a lunch of either roast chicken or beef lasagna.
The chicken came with a good ratatouille, but the salad . . . never again will I even open it. The desert made up for this though, with a good slice of cake and a piece of chocolate.
The crew of BA93 only showed themselves for the meal/drink service and the duty free. Now, I hate to use stereotypes, but the crew were perfect models of the removed, surly attitude that you hear about BA's crew. What a way to end a vacation.
The IFE wasn't bad, PTVs with 12 channels, not AVOD but still better than most charters.
Unfortunately the out-the-window IFE wasn't too great either, just flat couds. The amenity kits are great however, especially for economy, as are the blankets, allowing me to catch up on another few hours of sleep.
Arriving over Quebec
Before landing another snack was served, this time it was a salmon sandwich and a chicken sandwich, both quite tasty.
Soon after we landed on RWY 23 and got to the gate just 10 minutes late; I guess there is alot of time built into these flights for delays.
Parked at Gate C33
This is something new in YYZ: there is an initial immigration screening (just looking at passports) just inside the terminal. As canadians we didn't seem to have much trouble, but a few foreigners were questioned for a while, making deplaning painfully slow. However, this sped up the second immigration line, so were still beat our bags to the carousel by 5 minutes.
Overall, BA is a great airline to fly, with much better service than in Canada for short hauls, and a great trans-Atlantic Y product. Other than some issues checking in on both the return and outbound flights, the trip went smoothly, with no serious delays or luggage lost. Terminal 5 in LHR is a huge improvement over T1, although the security waits could be an annoyance once all of BA's flights move there.
Well, that's it. Six flights in 5 weeks, a great family trip to Europe, and now it's back to snowy Canada. Ironically, in the last two days we've had a good 20cm of snow, after weeks of 12 degree weather. It's just not right to have this in April. . .
Comments are welcome,