Video Report British Airways Club Europe BA884 - London to Bucharest - A321NEOWizz Air W63031 - Bucharest to London Gatwick - A321-200 Background
Hello A'netters. It has been a while since I have posted any reports here, mainly because there has been no travel since our last trip across to Ireland
We had a bank holiday in August and wanted to make use of it and visit a new country.
After scanning the map, we saw a glaring omission in not visiting Romain yet! A quick search of flights and we found out that Romania would fit our purpose, perfectly. We wanted a 5 day trip and a visit to Romania was not too far and yet 5 days seemed to be the perfect gateway away time in Romania. This
was kind of what we did, albeit in a reverse order.
Looking at flight options, I was able to use my companion voucher onward to Bucharest but there was no availability for the return. Hence decided to book a one way on companion voucher and the return on Wizz Air. This would also mean that we would be on BA's new A321NEO for our onward to Bucharest (Yaay!; hopefully I do not get subbed) and return on Wizz Air's A321 (Normal)
Booking process on BA was the business as usual, quick and easy. Booking process on Wizz Air was alright too. A bit more options to tick/untick but it was acceptable. The price was a bit steep, but given the timing (Late evening flight, giving us the entire day in Romania) and that too on the back of a bank holiday weekend, I think it was worth it.
Thanks to Gcmap, the travel itinerary below:British Airways - BA884
Route: LHR - OTP
Flight Reg:G-NEOU; Delivered to BA on May 2019
Aircraft Type: Airbus 321-200 NEO
Flight time: 18:55 - 00:10 (21:57 - 02:38)
Actual flight time: 2 Hr 41 Min
Load: 6 of 16 in club Europe.
21 Aug 2019
Booking details: Booked via BA website using the Companion voucher for 20000 Avios + Companion voucher + £50 taxes for 2 Club Europe Tickets.
My Log book: 38th Flight on BA / 1st flight on Airbus 321-200 NEO / 213th Total overall flight
Day before the flight, online check in was easy to navigate and bagged seats 3A and C.
Day of the flight, the taxi ride to the airport was a normal weekday peak time event. Took us an hour and 15 minutes.
Once at T5 the check in and bag drop was seamless. We used the self-bag drop counter as our past experience with business class check in have been far from memorable.
Security was quick and we were airside in 15 minutes.
Heathrow T5 on a Wednesday evening
The swanky new self-check-in kiosks
Self-tagging bag drop -> Bye Bye Bag
This was swift
Did a quick duty free shop run before heading to BA galleries north lounge.
It was a typical weekday evening. Fairly busy and slightly chaotic. My wife quipped that it's better to sit outside than at the lounge. Uh oh. Not a good advertisement for the lounge I must say.
Settled in for a drink and some light snacks before heading to the boarding gates, which was at the other end of the terminal.
Let's try the North Galleries Lounge
It was fairly quiet'ish, for a normal evening at the Galleries lounge. I have seen it a lot busier.
Plane spotting from the lounge
Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-200
Air Belgium A340 (Wet Leased to BA) flight to Cairo
PIA B777 to Islamabad
We were going to be on the latest aircraft BA had, G-NEOU which was barely 3 months old when we were travelling. It would also mean that this would be my first A321NEO.
We were on board on time but once onboard there was delay due to 2 reasons.
1. Some passengers didn't board the flight and hence their bags needed to be offloaded and
2. Traffic over northern Europe due to which there was an ATC traffic control on place.
As always, top notch announcements from the flight deck. Precise and transparent.
In 30 minutes we were once again informed that ATC had pushed us back by a further 30 minutes. Which meant a minimum of an hours delay. Hmm.
Time to board
There is our ride to Bucharest, BA's latest A321NEO
On Board BA Airbus 321-200NEO
View from Row 3
Typical BA Cabin Seating
Reading on-board. Already damaged Safety card
A first for me -> Menu on a short haul EU flight
This sight never gets old
Off to Haneda
Departed the gates an hour late and had a 20 minute ride to the runway. Just as we approached our slot, the brand new Airbus started shouting by the means of 3 loud beeps. As soon as this happened I knew something was wrong! Lo and behold, we hit the runway slowly and turned back into the taxi way.
20 minutes later the captain announced that one of the door sensors had been activated and we were going back to the terminal for the engineer to examine it. Albeit the captain is almost sure that this is a false alarm. Sigh. Not a good start on the A321NEO. Details of the captain's announcement in my video.
Back at a remote gate and awaiting the engineer to check. Once the engineer arrived he quickly deciphered that this was a false alarm and further strengthened the original assumption. But the subsequent paper work took another 20 minutes.
By the time we departed for the second time, it was 2130, 2 hrs and 30 minutes behind schedule with a new arrival time of 0240 into Bucharest.
The delay was very well handled by the crew with the captain himself addressing us in the end. Typical BA professionalism.
I need a drink! Why not have two, Sir?
The meal was quite tasty and I complemented it with a Glenlivet.
Had a nap for around an hour after the meal. The NEO once again proved to be a very quiet aircraft.
Rest of the flight was uneventful and we finally landed at 0240, 2.5 hours behind schedule.
Once at the gates, rest of the exit process was quick and we were out of the airport by 0300. But due to the delay, we missed collecting our rental car so had to cab it to the hotel and return the following morning once again, to collect the car.
Overall it was a typical BA flight. Even though there was a significant delay, I think the crew handled the situation very well. I think BA did the right thing in being over cautious. There is no substitute for a 100% safety assurance.
Thanks you BA!
Finally, in Bucharest
Lots of walking
And more walking
Finally at the baggage carousal
Exiting the airport -> Quite busy, even at 3 AM!
Car rental was shut
Let's cab it to the hotel
This system worked well
Message from BASights during our trip -> 5 days in Romania
Sighisoara Old town
Sighisoara Old town
Sighisoara Old town
You pick one t-shirt for the day, what are the chances that you would be going to a Dinopark???
Cobbled streets of Bucharest old town
Our ride for the trip -> My fav small car! love it!
Driving Stats Return trip to London Gatwick Wizz Air - W63031
Route: OTP - LGW
Flight Reg:HA-LXC; Delivered to Wizz Air on Feb 2016
Aircraft Type: Airbus 321-200
Flight time: 19:45 - 21:15 (20:37 - 21:27)
Actual flight time: 2 Hr 50 Min
Distance: 1296 Miles
Load: Absolutely full flight! 230 out of 230 seats with 3 overbooked passengers who had to be offloaded
26 Aug 2019
Booking details: Booked via Wizz Air website for a total of 1281 RON and 1028 RON for 2 tickets with 1 full Wizz Priority including 20 Kilos check in baggage and pre-assigned seats and the other booking just a basic fare with pre-assigned seats. (~GBP438 for 2 tickets also on a bank holiday weekend)
My Log book: 5th Flight on Wizz Air/ 15th flight on Airbus 321-200 / 214th Total overall flight
On the day of the flight, we were at the airport by 1700. The airport was extremely hot and unpleasant. Wizz air priority only had a couple of counters opened with no clear indication. It took us around 20 minutes for bags to be dropped and boarding passes issued. We did get an email from Wizz air the previous day asking us to be at the airport 2hr and 15 min before departure due to congestion and extra security (apparently) at Bucharest airport. The check in experience was inadequate, uncomfortable and hot.
Back at Bucharest OTP Airport
Wizz Air priority boarding (With no apparent signage)
Hot and cramped Bucharest Airport
Add to it, long queues, everywhere
Plane spotting at OTP
Immigration and security took a further 20 minutes and airside by 1740.
Airside was no better and the airport felt overcrowded and hectic. We walked towards the food court which was once again a poor experience.
Heading towards they duty free area
Extremely cramped airside
Trying out the food court
Quite a few smoking areas in this terminal
My pre-boarding meal
Let's explore some other part of this busy and hot terminal building
We decided to move away from here to find a quieter spot and that's when we found the Illy coffee by gate 7/8 to be the perfect spot for a bit of wind down time. We spent around 30 minutes here before heading towards our gate.
This side seems a lot quieter
Some drinks before boarding
Plane spotting at OTP
A couple of Blue Air B737-400 and -500
We proceeded towards our gates at around 1900. The gate 15 area was swarmed with passengers with no spare seats. Bucharest airport has to be one of the worst airports in Europe. Certainly the warmest. It was an extremely uncomfortable experience and could not wait to be onboard.
Our ride to London Gatwick
The aircraft, arriving from London Luton only arrived by 1920 with boarding commencing at 1945. The flight was absolutely full with over booked passengers, who had not checked in online asked to wait until the end.
On board the aircraft by 2005. The temperature inside the aircraft was perfectly cool and was a relief from the refugee camp situation at Bucharest airport.
Wizz Air Airbus 321-200 interiors
Reading material on-board
Boarding complete by 2015 and disembarked by 2025. Good on Wizz air for a quick turnaround. 55 minutes for a fully loaded A321.
Flight time of 2 hr and 50 minutes announced.
Short taxi and we were airborne by 2035.
40 minutes after reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew began food and drinks service.
Quite interestingly they did not accept any Revolut, maestro or Visa electron payments. Not sure why the discrimination against Revolut cards.
Angled and tiny toilets
The captain announcement commenced an hour into the flight. Started off by apologising about the delay. He confirmed that we were cruising at 34000 feet at approx. 860 km/hr. With an expected landing time of 2125 into London Gatwick. Good show by Wizz air thus far.
Rest of the flight was uneventful in a good way. Slight turbulence en-route but nothing too drastic.
Back at Gatwick
Did not know that these were now flying to Gatwick, from Morocco.
All here Verdict
Overall it was a good show by Wizz Air. Quite a remarkable difference from the first time
I had experienced Wizz Air over 4 years ago.
The flight was on-time, service on board was acceptable and the timing was spot on. It was a bit pricey, but given the timing and the bank holiday factor, it was a good deal.
The airport experience at Bucharest was the only let down on our return journey back.
Hope you liked this edition of my report. Looking forward to seeing your comments and feedback.
Until next time, Adios and happy flying!