So after a pleasant week in the UK it was time to pack the bags and hit the skies again. Our last few nights had been spent in the LHR
Marriott and Sheraton Skyline. Both good bases to tour from if you have a car and pleasant stays were had in both. We checked out of the Sheraton and the concierge organised a taxi to take us to Terminal 5.
We entered T5
and headed for the BA
First Class check-in located on the far right of the hall. Two agents were having a good old chin wag before they eventually saw us. I handed over our itinerary with the PNR and she proceeded to process us.
She enquired if I had already checked-in I replied I had did it online the evening before. There was a pause and she just looked at me……I explained further that I was unable to print our boarding passes then she realised what it was she was actually supposed to do.
Seems they have become so used to passengers doing everything online for themselves that it comes as a surprise that some do still come to check-in in order to get issued with boarding passes.
After that underwhelming start to the trip things got decidedly better from then on. We negotiated the BP
and passport check then headed through security. As usual I was left wondering if it was shoes/belts off or on. I kept my shoes on but took my belt off. The laptop had to come out of the bag.
At the other side the lady in front of me was having a job juggling all her belongings as she took her stuff out of the trays. Suddenly her laptop slipped out of her grasp and fell to the floor with a sickening crash.
A result of the stupid tray system they have a T5
– one needs an extra pair of hands to negotiate the system properly.
There is a door located just after one gets through this pantomime which allows first class passengers a short cut into the lounge complex instead of having to walk past the shops. We showed our boarding passes and were allowed to enter. Pleasant staff at the desk inside then verified our entitlement and welcomed us in.
The Concorde Room was quiet and a friendly member of staff asked if we wanted to dine. It was now lunch time so we accepted the offer and were shown to a table in the dining room.
The menu has recently been updated and there are sufficient choices to keep one happy. To start with Champagne for me and orange juice for my wife were delivered to our table.
I chose the Tapas platter to start with and my wife the Tomato and Mozzarella. Both were very much enjoyed and well presented.
For the main dish I went for the Farmhouse Chicken and Tarragon pie and my wife went for the rabbit food - sorry - I meant the vegetarian salad. Mine was by no means over endowed with good looks but was none the less delicious. Although, similar to the QF
lounge main course dish in Sydney was not all that hot. Wife was happy again with hers, so that’s good news.
Puddings next and my wife went for the Set English Custard with summer berries and Clotted Cream and I had the warm Treacle Tart with Ice Cream which was fantastic – and not to be missed if you should be in the Concorde dining room.
I was rather impressed with the whole meal and service. If only they could serve this up in the First Class cabin I would be a happy bunny. Regular top-ups were offered before we exited to go and sit out in the terrace area to have coffee.
We made use of the free WIFI and relaxed in the comfy chairs looking out to the airfield before leaving to go and buy a digital camera. After the camera was purchased we ended up outside the short cut door to the lounge instead of the main entrance somehow so we went back in. In my haste I forgot about the second eligibility check and was politely called back.
This time, instead of going to the Concorde Room we made for the F lounge to have a look. There we had some tea and sandwiches and some biscuits. It’s a big lounge and we didn’t explore it all, we were going to sit in the "terrace" but were driven back "inside" due to the humidity.
I didn’t quite feel relaxed in the F lounge for some reason – no idea why.
We were leaving from gate B25 so we left the lounges with plenty of time and headed for the transit train. We could have gone to the lounge at the B terminal but decided just to give it a miss as we had eaten and drank enough so we just took a seat in the gate area and waited for boarding to commence.
We were escorted to our seats in the nose of the 747. I was in 2A my wife in 2K. She was about to sit in my seat and I said “No dear your seat is over there” pointing to 2K. The female FA
jokingly said “Oh it’s like that is it she has to sit where you tell her” which I thought was funny.
Once we were settled I went over to have a chat with her. Just as I was nearing her seat the same FA
said “Oi you’re not allowed over that side your seat is over there”. She had a great way of communicating with her passengers without being overly friendly and obviously had many years of service behind her.
I noticed we had all the new additions to the F cabin on this flight including the new pyjamas and slippers and wrap – I had been given a L size pyjamas and I got them changed for a M size instead. Although any improvement is welcome it is the service that makes a good flight experience for me and I felt this one had got off to a good start.
Once in the air we were given the usual canapés with the drink service – so good were they I forgot to take a picture till after I had scoffed the lot.
The Scottish CSD came round the almost full F cabin and introduced herself to everyone. Now call it coincidence or not but in all four of my BA
F flights the two most memorable ones have been when this has happened. I do feel no matter how busy they might be carrying out other duties that if the CSDs take the time to introduce themselves to their F passengers it shows that they care. After all it only takes up 15 minutes of their time. I also noted that very little use of calling you by name happens these days……….no big deal in my opinion just an observation.
On to the grub now and this would be a test. Surely after two poor experiences in a row it would be third time lucky?
First up was the starter. Loch Fyne smoked salmon with horseradish potato salad and lemon dressing. It came to me as a bit of a shock at first. I had assumed it would be cold smoked salmon and not hot. Nonetheless it was very tasty and enjoyed.
For the main course I chose the “Catch of the Day” dish of Welsh rarebit-crusted Cod with a Clam Chowder Sauce. Must say it didn’t look all that good on the plate but again tasted okay without tantalising the taste buds too much.
The wise cracking FA
asked me about dessert and although I wasn’t all that hungry she persuaded me to have the Baked Alaska. It tasted great with the hidden ice cream in the sponge going well with the tangy berries and sauce……..a really tasty dessert and a good end to what had been a semi decent if not a memorable meal.
Not normally a good sleeper I was surprised to have such a good sleep on this flight. I was awake when the cabin lights were switched on so I soon went and changed out of the pyjamas before breakfast was served.
As usual I went for the full cooked breakfast and even had the sense to ask for some brown sauce to go with it. It tasted great.
We soon started the descent to HKG
. The last time I had landed at HKG
was a couple of months before they shut down Kai Tak and I still remember it well. My brother and I were way down the back in BA
economy and had to put up with a group of screaming girls as we banked sharply to the right then descended in between the skyscrapers. At least I got the chance to keep that memory of Kai Tak with me. Many of todays fliers will never know just how thrilling an approach and landing it was.
We left the relatively cool sanctuary of the terminal and were hit with a sudden blast of heat – welcome to Kong Kong in June. The taxi queue was short and it wasn’t long till we were heading to the Renaissance Kowloon with suitcases sticking out the boot of the car. Thankfully the car had air conditioning so it was a enjoyable drive to Kowloon.
We arrived at the Renaissance and our luggage was taken care of. We were given a refurbished room on one of the high floors and settled in. The room was spacious and very nicely furnished.
Feeling refreshed after a few hours sleep and a shower we went up to the executive lounge for a snack and a drink.
We left the hotel for a wander just in time to see the light show. It was still baking hot so we were eventually driven inside to the air conditioned mall.
The next few days were spent doing the usual sightseeing stuff most of which I had seem before. It was very humid and although there was an odd rumble of thunder the threatened rain never came. It was the forecast of rain that put me off visiting the island of Cheung Chau which I would have liked to have seen……maybe next time.
Having already posted the HKG
leg of the trip Thai First. (by Comeflywithme Jul 13 2009 in Trip Reports)
I shall fast forward to Frankfurt and inside the Senator lounge.
You’ll know if you were one of the unfortunates to have read the report we arrived here after coming off an excellent F experience with Thai.
We had a few hours to pass before our Lufthansa flight to Buenos Aires. The senator lounge we were in was okay but nothing great. It got very busy and there is no free WIFI which came as a bit of a shock having become so used to having it in most of the lounges we had visited around the world.
Wasn’t too impressed with the toilet facilities either I have to say. This was to be our first ever flight with Lufthansa so we were interested in what they had to offer.
It was time to go to the gate and on arriving we found the area to be very busy although we did manage to find some seats. An announcement was made that boarding was delayed for fifteen minutes. A further call was put out and another twenty minute delay was announced. The reason given was a replacement aircraft as our original 747 had gone tech.
No real problem as I expected we would make up the delay in the air. A call was also put out stating that because economy was full only one piece of hand luggage would be allowed and anyone travelling in economy would have to check-in any extra pieces.
Eventually boarding was called and we queued up at in the priority line. After the passport check we had to join another line which contained all the economy passengers as well – so much for priority boarding. Somehow my wife and I became separated with a couple of passengers in between us. My wife handed over her boarding pass and the scanner beeped. I saw the agent issuing her with a new one and my wife questioned her about us being together.
The agent was quite dismissive of her question and moved on to the next passengers. My turn next and the machine beeped again. Usually when this happens it can mean good news. Not this time though. I was issued with a new boarding pass with 9A my wife had been given 9B instead of the 3H
/K I had got assigned many months previously.
Having survived the Frankfurt version of “priority boarding” we found our seats which were positioned at the door just across from the toilet and galley.
I had a chat with the female FA
questioning her if she knew why our seats had been changed.
She admitted she had no idea why. When boarding was completed I had a look to see who was in our original seats and found just one lone male in the window seat.
The pleasant female FA
came back and admitted the ground staff had cocked it all up and that we weren’t the only ones to have been shifted.
She said if we wished we could move as only half of the cabin seats were occupied. I had a look round but the only two free seats together were in the middle rows so we just stayed put.
Don’t get me wrong the seats we had did have plenty of room and I hear 9A is much sought after by the single traveller as it allows for easy access when you have a seat neighbour.
As it turned out the toilet being so close to us was not a problem with the cabin being so quiet. The only downside was the draught of cold air. It came from the door area throughout the flight for some reason. A further delay was announced as a non boarded passenger had to have their baggage offloaded. Pre-departure champagne was handed out and we settled ourselves in for the long 13 hour flight ahead.
Once in the air a drink service took place Gin n Tonic for me.
The meal service began and a look at the menu indicated yet another celebrity chef who I had never heard of had been recruited by Lufthansa at considerable expense no doubt. Why airlines bother getting hold of these so called celebrity chefs is beyond me as the food style today with most airlines is more supermarket ready meal than Michelin * a la carte.
Anyway for starters was a “Veal simmered in vegetable stock with red vinaigrette and cucumber herb salad”. Tasted okay I thought so not a bad start.
A quick look out the window showed we were leaving the Spanish coast. If I remember correctly somewhere over Galicia
Main dish was next and I went for the “Steamed Halibut with Almond butter mashed potato and summer vegetables”. Okay, take a look at the picture and tell me what you really think? If some top celebrity chef is earning big bucks to come up with something like that………I’m going to become a celebrity chef.
The dish was spoilt not only by the amount of salt that was in it but the amount of stock…..it was more like a soup than a main course.
The choice of desserts was either a “jelly with strawberry lime compote” or a “melon cocktail” both of which inspired me enough to go for the cheese instead.
Coffee and chocolates were served – the best part of the meal.
My first experience of a Lufthansa meal had not left a pleasant taste in the mouth I have to say. AZ
had been bottom of my list in quality of longhaul meals LH
would now be taking AZs place I’m afraid to say.
The female flight attendant who was mostly looking after us smiled when she spotted that we had both changed into our Thai F pyjamas. She remarked how nice we looked in them and recognised them as being Thai F ones. She was interested to hear of our recent travels. We did get the odd funny look from the other passengers but I didn’t care - better to be comfortable than not.
Past half way over the Atlantic a coffee and sandwich round was made which was well timed as I was feeling a bit hungry.
My wife went to sleep and after watching a film I got my head down. Problem was the seat – it has to be the most uncomfortable business class seat I have ever been in. No matter how much I faffed about with the controls I couldn’t get comfy at all. Tiredness eventually won in the end and I managed to get a few hours of off and on sleep.
Well into Brazil a second meal service was given. More of a snack than a meal as the portion was very small indeed. A couple of crayfish tails with salad and a very economy like pudding. I wonder if all the big European airlines are making cost cutting measures in their premium cabins food now. The small dish did taste nice though.
Darkness came and despite me thinking we would make up the delay it was obvious we were going to land nearly one hour late. Ricardo our driver would be waiting for us no doubt adding on a waiting charge getting higher as the clock ticked by.
We had now reached the Argentine side of the River Plate and the lights of Buenos Aires could be seen below.
On the approach our FA
came and strapped herself into the jump seat across from us. I asked how long her layover was going to be and she said three nights. She told us that she hoped to do some horse riding during her time here as she had done before on previous trips. She asked us about our life in Argentina.
We said our farewells and negotiated the usual immigration queue. Unlike on our departure a few weeks previously we gave the diplomatic line a miss as there were already a few people waiting. It had been a long slog from Bangkok but we both felt in good shape surprisingly.
Baggage was out pretty quick and the baggage scan was negotiated without too many problems owing to the fact we have the knowledge to avoid having all our bags scanned.
Ever reliable Ricardo was waiting for us as usual and we started the two hour drive getting back home just after 11pm. Too late to liberate the dogs from the mother in law. Our round the world trip was over.
The whole round the world trip had all gone according to plan bar the TG
cancellation which wasn’t really much of a problem in the end.
Most memorable flight had been our EK
one from CHC
. It was just one of those flights which started and ended up being perfect. Our economy trio of NZ
flights were great too and had a lovely holiday feel to them.
The Thai BKK
ground experience was just fantastic and will live in our memory forever.