British Airways First
My Argentine wife and I a Scot, decided that the time was right to move to Argentina on a permanent basis from our home in Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow. I had become disillusioned after 25 years of teaching various subjects to 16-18 year old unemployed kids, 50% of my work time seemed to be spent filling in paperwork for auditors to see if I was doing my job correctly which of course I wasn't due to filling out paperwork. And so when the option of voluntary
redundancy came along, I decided to get out. The biggest factor in our decision was the fact that my mother had died suddenly in early spring, along with the fact that my wife was increasingly becoming unsettled in the UK, finding it hard to conform to the British way of life. We had our other home in Argentina to go to located about 100 miles from Buenos Aires where my wife was brought up and where we had lots of friends not to mention a super climate, good fishing and a very good golf course with thankfully little rough. At least we had one last summer in Scotland to enjoy and plenty of time to organise the move, which would take place in the UK autumn/Argentina spring.
Time moved quickly on, we had managed to have a couple of long weekends away one in Stockholm and one to Helsinki which included a day trip to Estonia, although I had been several times to both destinations I wanted my wife to see them before the departure, we had enjoyed excellent flights in economy, to ARN
with SAS and to HEL
+AY. And in a beautiful autumn day we also fitted in one last trip to Loch Lomond just a short drive away - a special place for me and one which leaves me with lots of lovely memories gained over many years cycling, camping, walking and fishing by its 60 miles of beautiful shores.
View over Tallinn
View out the window HEL
Beutiful Loch Lomond.
Organising our flights to EZE
We had a couple of AZ
flights in J booked for October but I had later found out that Alitalia have a maximum luggage allowance of only 30kg per person in Business class so I got them amended to be used at a later date when we wouldn't have so much luggage and got started looking for availability for a miles redemption with BA
as they have a far superior luggage allowance. Eventually I was able to get two F tickets travelling on November 7th which although not the date I was looking for was the best I could get for now, I hoped availability would open up nearer the time and I could change them for an earlier date.
The removal of our personal belongings was organised for the 2nd of October as we had to vacate the apartment that week, the whole process would cover two days by the company we decided to do the removal, one day would be for professionally packing of our stuff and one for the arrival and loading of the container. All went surprisingly smoothly and the container doors were shut and sealed before the lorry made it's way to Grangemouth where the container would be loaded on to a ship bound for Antwerp in Belgium and from there transferred on to another ship bound for Buenos Aires.
All packed and ready to go.
We moved camp 200 miles over the border to Southport - a seaside resort in the north west of England where we had the use of my late mothers apartment and which gave us a base to pass the time until the flight.
We had originally been informed that the container would take at least six weeks to reach Argentina and which by my calculations, would give us enough time to arrive and still have a few days to organise things at our house in readiness for the arrival of our belongings. However, out of the blue we were informed that it would now be arriving in Buenos Aires on the 28th of October and that it would be ready after customs clearance for delivery a few days later. This news upset our plans a bit as the agent in Buenos Aires had also emailed us informing us that hefty charges would be accrued the longer the container sat at the port so although I had been regularly trying to see if earlier availability for a flight had opened up it was now of far more importance than ever.
Two or three times a day I would check BA
.com for any availability to EZE
without any luck when suddenly on the 25th two tickets in FIRST became available, flying out on the next Monday the 29th I grabbed the chance, changed our booking and we were ready to go.
* A note regarding trip report photos. I had planned to use my new Samsung NV10 to take lots of pictures and videos, unfortunately I realised too late that the charger had gone with the container and not in my laptop bag as I thought. For a few days before departure I tried in vain to buy one but couldn't for the life of me find anywhere that sold any. Anyway I bought a throwaway camera as backup instead and luckily my Samsung battery still had enough charge to take a few pictures. I didn't want to use the flash on the first leg to GRU
for obvious reasons - some pax were ready for sleep shortly after take off. So please excuse the lack of meal pictures, the few in-flight photos that I did take are all of the GRU
leg as the cabin was quieter and it was daylight.
Monday 29th of October
We arranged a people carrier to take us, and our six suitcases from Southport for the hours drive to Manchester airport and thankfully it arrived as arranged on time at midday. All the cases were loaded without any problem and soon we were on our way. Just after 13.00 we arrived at MAN T3
and after grabbing two trolleys we got a little confused trying to find the check in area. It appeared you had to take the lift up to the check in area, not sure if that is the only option of getting there but it proved a nuisance trying to balance all the cases and two bits of hand luggage whilst negotiating the busy lifts.
Good news!! The BA
Club World priority desk was open so we made a beeline for it although the other desks were relatively quiet. I handed over our reservation and the pleasant agent said how many cases are you checking in Sir? six I replied, okay lets have a look. After tapping on her keyboard and looking at her screen she looked up and said in a rather loud voice, First Class to Buenos Aires, six cases not a problem.
I knew we were over the 23kg mark for each case as the previous evening we had fun and games trying to balance and weigh them on the bathroom scales. I wasn't really 100% sure of BA
's policy on weight limits at the time as they had been giving out differing information on their website over recent months so I was feeling a bit nervous as I placed the first one on the scales. My heart missed a beat when the agent said - do you know that bags over the 23kg limit will be charged excess? Then she paused slightly before adding - in future, but we are allowing it for now free of charge, I am just letting you know for future reference,a smile came back to my face. One, two, then three cases went through okay all just a few kg over the 23kg mark although, still well inside the 32kg max limit. Things were going well until the fourth and fifth set the yellow button flashing, sorry Sir but you shall have to take a couple of kilos out of each case or they won't go through the system. Turned out my wife - who had commandeered five of the cases for her belongings that she didn't want to send in the container rather sheepishly admitted adding items to them without my knowledge that morning.
By this time a longish queue had formed around the check in area and all were witnessing the frantic goings on with the two of us scrambling about on the floor unlocking, opening and transferring items, from one case to another. Thankfully the sixth case was within the 32kg limit and could take a fair bit of the excess. The shame of it, who'd have thought that First class passengers personal items would be scattered about the floor including several pairs of my underwear, on view for all to see.
Eventually after what seemed an age all the cases made it through without setting off that damn yellow alarm button and I calmed down from my sweaty and flustered state.
With heads bowed we headed to negotiate security next which as it turned out was pretty effortless despite my wife having now acquired two bags (one hidden beneath a jacket) caused by the shifting around of our items at check in. Next priority was the lounge for a much needed alcoholic drink
Upstairs at the entrance I presented our LHR
F boarding passes to a rather old looking lounge attendant who in turn was being inducted into the process of whatever lounge attendants duties are by another equally old looking attendant but who thankfully was a more well informed one. She said to her confused inductee "they are allowed access due to their First Class boarding passes you do not need to ask for any other proof". Eventually, after a while permission was given to enter and the inductor told us to enjoy our visit - thank God I said to myself, as that G&T was becoming more and more needed by the second.
lounge at Manchester.
lounge is attractively situated at Manchester, overlooking the departure area below and also affording grand views of the apron and runway. It was quiet at that time of the day as it was now well after 2pm.
I enjoyed the well-earned Gin and Tonic along with some nibbles - they had stopped serving lunch food by that time. A couple of strong coffees, some biscuits, cheese and fruitcake lifted my spirits and I started to relax and look forward to the trip ahead.
Boarding was called and we made our way to the gate where the 757 was waiting for us, BA
domestic services are all one class so no priority boarding or special services for passengers booked on F tickets although I had managed to get seats 3A and 3B allocated at online check in the previous day. The full flight left the gate about twenty minutes late at 1600 we were informed most of the delay could be made up in the air as long as there was no delays at LHR
which was of no concern to us really as we had plenty of connecting time to pass at Heathrow.
Onboard we enjoyed a couple of tasty sandwiches and a red wine all served as usual by the efficient Cabin Crew who do a sterling job serving a full 757 flight on such a short journey. Thirty-five minutes later we were over London and without any holding we were on approach to LHR
, the sunny weather affording good views of several London landmarks. We arrived at the gate at Terminal One not long after the scheduled arrival time only to find there was no one manning the bridge so a few minutes was wasted waiting for someone to appear.
The transfer bus was waiting to take us to Terminal 4 where the BA247 would leave for Buenos Aires. We entered and as we wanted to use the toilets we made for the nearest Lounge, which happened to be the Gate 1 Lounge. On showing our boarding passes the desk agent informed us we were very welcome to use the lounge but as we were travelling in First Class we were entitled to use the Concorde room, something I already knew of course. We only stopped long enough to use the toilet facilities and have a quick drink, as it was very busy and not very relaxing. After a short stop at Duty Free we made our way to the Concorde room where we had to show our entitlement to enter to the doorman outside, giving them a quick glance he told us to enjoy our stay.
It was very quiet and we chose some comfy seats near the food and drink bar and just opposite the restaurant where one can dine after 7pm.Browsing the bar menu we ordered some soup and I had a champagne with a choice of pink or white to go with it. Not feeling too hungry after the excellent potato and leek soup we decided against using the restaurant and instead nibbled on some cheese and biscuits and fresh fruit salad. I also poured myself a Johnnie Walker Blue as I had never tried it before and was none too impressed with it's overpowering smoky taste, I shall stick to the cheaper stuff thanks!!
I decided to ask at the desk if it was wise to nip out landside for a last cigarette before the flight. On turning the corner I arrived at the desk just as one of the younger agents was popping a large piece of melon into her mouth I startled her so much with my sudden appearance that she almost choked on it, she was rather embarrassed that I had caught her in the act. She advised that it could take me an hour to go landside and come back airside so I decided that the smoke would have to wait till I exited Ezeiza.
The lounge began to fill up but never got that busy to spoil the ambiance of the place with quite a few travellers taking advantage of the free dining in the restaurant I noticed. I spent half an hour on the internet and had a couple of coffees with biscuits and just people watched, mainly to see if anyone famous was about, turned out the only famous faces were on the telly opposite.
Around 8.30pm our flight was called so we made a move, as our gate was a fair walk away.
Boarding had obviously been going on for a while as there wasn't that large a queue to the only bridge that was in use and which prevented any queue jumping for us. After about ten minutes waiting we eventually reached the door to be met by the FA
who when noticing my wife's FIRST boarding card immediately informed another cabin crew member who offered to show her to her seat I on the other hand was prevented by one of the FA
's who didn't realise we were travelling together until he looked at my boarding card and apologised for preventing me from following. We were taken through Club World and into the First class cabin situated in the nose of the 747. After arriving at our seats our jackets were taken and hung in the wardrobe and our amenity kits were brought to us, I noticed that our pyjamas and slippers were already laid out for us on our seats. I had a window seat, 3A and my wife behind me in 4A. I had intended choosing the middle pair of seats 4E/F for our journey but I hummed and hawed so much when choosing at the online seat selection that I missed them to someone else. Our seat allocation was excellent though as during a night flight you don't really talk much anyway and with the buddy seat available at meal times you can eat together plus it's nice to have the windows to look out when daylight comes around.
We were asked if we cared for a drink, we both declined the Champagne for orange juice instead. Simon the CSD came round and introduced himself to the two of us and had a chat for a while, before leaving he told us to inform him if there was anything we wanted.
The doors were closed and we pushed back bang on time at 21.10 to taxi out to the runway and after not too long a wait we lined up and were on our way. After climbing for a bit the Cabin Crew were released in order to carry out their duties and David the FA
came and introduced himself and informed us he would be looking after us.
We both changed into our dark blue FIRST pyjamas and chose to hang our own clothes in the wardrobe. A plate of canape's was brought to me and I asked for Champagne to wash them down with and then browsed the menu to make my choices.
The unfortunate side to flying to EZE
is the timing of the flight, as it leaves so late in the day my appetite is not at its best especially having eaten in the lounge. I hate eating too much late at might when flying as it leaves me feeling stuffed and uncomfortable so I usually end up picking at my dinner rather than enjoying it as I would if it were a day flight.
I had informed David that my wife and I would be eating together and he prepared the table after asking which one of us would be using the buddy seat, I said my wife and he asked her if she would like a cushion as the seat could be a bit uncomfortable after a while. I replied that she had plenty of built in cushioning herself and when he realised I was joking he said in a rather camp manner "you are terrible, what a thing to say about your wife" - he informed me later that he had been chatting a while with her and said my wife was a lovely person which was a rather nice thing to say. He really knew how to build up a rapport with the passengers who were willing to partake in a bit of banter and as I was one who was willing we carried on having good laugh throughout the flight to GRU
. As well as being a nice bloke he carried out his duties to a very high standard and is certainly a credit to BA
Mark Edwards foie gras and duck confit
with plum wine jelly and brioche croutons
Grilled asparagus with black truffle butter
Roast onion soup with Cornish Yarg cheese croutons
Fresh salad leaves with your choice of sweet red pepper
or roast garlic and tarragon dressing
Beef fillet with a cep reduction, Anna potatoes
and green beans
Catch of the Day - Please ask your crew for details of
today's fresh fish selection served with your choice of
sauce vierge or caper butter sauce, seasonal vegetables
and new potatoes
Richard Corrigan's roast breast of chicken
and stuffed ravioli with garlic and thyme sauce
Poached Loch Duart salmon salad with lemon dressing
Shaun Hill's rhubarb tart with ginger sauce
and vanilla ice cream
Chocolate espresso delice with Mascarpone cream
and fresh raspberries
Cheese Plate Montgomery Cheddar. An award-winning straw-coloured
unpasteurised cheese that is rich in flavour with a hint of
fruit; this variety is made from the legendary Jersey cow's
milk and is a British Airways exclusive.
Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue - Shropshire Blue
contains an underlying hint of rich, buttery caramel
while maintaining a smooth Blue taste.
Chabis - Made from goat's milk this is a soft cheese
with a fresh, mild flavour.
I kick myself now for not making the most of the dinner but at the time I just wasn't hungry, I never took a starter and picked a bit at the salad leaving the rest for my wife. I chose the salmon for the main dish purely for the fact that I knew it wouldn't end up lying in my stomach and making me feel too full. My wife chose onion soup then the steak and praised both. Dessert was the best part and we shared our two choices - the advantages of sharing a table. Both the rhubarb tart and chocolate dessert were excellent. I chose the red wine from Mendoza, just as well I showed no interest in the white as I heard them saying all the whites had not been loaded for some reason. A nice fresh mug of coffee finished the meal off and we were able to help ourselves to the box of chocolates, which had been laid out on the table in front of row 4 for all to enjoy.
I observed some of the passengers having their beds made up,they wanted to get as much sleep as possible my wife included. Just before she visited the toilet to brush her teeth David asked her if she would like hers made up as well. I decided to make my own up later.
I had noticed that the FIRST cabin of 14 seats was full, the couple in 4E/F seemed to be work colleagues and that meant we were the only other male female couple combination in the cabin with all the others being men travelling alone, apart from the two male doctors in 5E/F who I overheard had arrived from AMS
after overcoming some problems and which the cabin crew had been made aware of.
The cabin fell dark and quiet so I settled down to watch the IFE and was none too impressed with what was on offer either the films had started or were not really worth watching and I soon nodded off without having the seat in the full flat bed position. I awoke with the duvet over me, which had made me sweat, then woke again feeling chilly after having throwing it off.
This on off nonsense would last all night for some reason no one else seemed to be having this trouble, as a bad in-flight sleeper I slept as good as it gets for me and found the seat very comfortable. During one of my awakened periods I visited the toilet and found David the FA
still on duty, he immediately asked if I would like anything prepared and so I had a coffee and a plate of Duchy of Cornwall biscuits to go with it. We spent some time chatting , him interested to hear our story of living in Argentina and me asking about his layover in Sao Paulo. He told me he had been to Sao Paulo once before but did not utilise his time there as best he could and was determined to make better use of it this time. He also said he would love to visit Buenos Aires someday as they do not get the opportunity to stopover there as the crew do LHR
then do a GRU
duty on one of their layover days in Sao Paulo.
After another few hours of me playing the game of awakening and nodding off I had a peek out of the window to see the first sign of daylight approaching, always a welcome sight for me on this route and which was also the sign for the Cabin Crew to start getting breakfast prepared.
Chilled fruit juice
* An energising fruit smoothie
A selection of yoghurts
A selection of cereals
* Fresh seasonal fruit plate
Bakery A wide selection of breakfast pastries and rolls
Scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, pork sausages, saut'ed
mushrooms, grilled tomato and hash-brown potatoes
Creamy wild mushroom omelette
Apple and sultana crepes with Mascarpone
and cinnamon cream
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas - Traditional English Breakfast,
Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions
Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger
or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee - Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated,
espresso or cappuccino
A fruit smoothie was my choice of morning drink and followed by a splendid full English breakfast with warm croissants and jam and plenty of coffee.
We arrived at GRU
where we were thankfully allowed to stay on board as my wife and I still had our pyjamas on and I observed eight of the fourteen FIRST passengers getting off. Whilst on the ground we changed back into our clothes avoiding the cleaners who had come on board to give the cabin a quick clean. A new crew boarded and David came to wish us well and say his goodbyes, we also thanked him for looking after us so professionally.
Carol the new Purser and a Glaswegian like myself came to introduce herself and we had a good chat about moving to Argentina and about Glasgow. Only one passenger, a woman, joined us at GRU
in the FIRST cabin, I guessed she might have been one of the flight crews wife as she seemed to be known. After about an hour we were ready for take off again and on our final leg to EZE
SAO PAULO - BUENOS AIRES
Snacks A selection of chilled meats and cheese
* Fresh fruit plate
Tortilla fiesta omelette with roast peppers,
olives and cheese
Toasted steak sandwich
A selection of bread rolls
Iced cinnamon danish pastry
Beverages We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas -Traditional English Breakfast,
Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings -Fruit and Herb Infusions
Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger
or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee - Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated,
espresso or cappuccino
I heard the noise of a Champagne cork popping so I took the offer of one to celebrate the near coming to an end of the journey and then my wife came to share my table for a snack of chilled meats and cheese and more Champagne followed by coffee with Danish pastries and a pick of the chocolates left in the box from the previous evening - Carol advised which ones were the best.
A view from 3A of the FIRST cabin.
Approaching Buenos Aires we flew over the container terminal where our containerised belongings had arrived two days before and where we would be on Thursday to observe the customs clearance.
More or less on schedule we started the final approach to Ezeiza.After a period of ten minutes holding which I had never experienced before in all the years of flying into Ezeiza, I can only think it may have been due to a change of runway.
Due to the opening of door 2 for disembarking, the F cabin was not the first to be let out but as the flight was not too full after the stop at GRU
it wasn't long before we exited.
The immigration queue was thankfully short and as I was now to be a permanent resident I had to deliver a sealed envelope given to me by the Argentine embassy in London to the officer attending to me. Without any problem my passport was stamped and on looking at the page I noticed that instead of the usual tourist marked stamp it was now marked as being permanent. Next, through into the baggage reclaim and it wasn't long till the belt started moving. Just as I noticed our cases coming through I was approached by a pretty young lady who asked me if I was Mr H when I replied yes she went on to inform me that one of our cases was still at LHR
, whilst she was telling us this I grabbed the five cases which had made it with us. She took our details and issued us with a $400 limit Travelex debit card, which could be used in shops or any ATM.
We next had to go through the tiring task of lifting our five cases off the trolleys on to the scanning belt - on a previous trip they detected 10kg of Daffodil bulbs, which I had planned on planting in the garden, but they confiscated the lot despite my wife's protestations saying they were for scientific purposes. I had visions of them thinking they were onions and imagining their reaction when they tasted them!! The cases had all to be put back on to the trolleys once again, which one could do without after such a long trip. We then exited through the doors to arrivals to be confronted by the faces of many excited greeters who were waiting to welcome relatives and friends.
We had finally arrived and outside in the warming sun we waited for the driver and I could light up a cigarette at last.
As usual in all my experiences whether in the back or up front, BA
's in flight service was excellent and all the cabin crew went about their duties in a professional and friendly manner.
First experience is for me pretty good, comfy seat especially in recline and bed position with enough space to spread out. Food for me is never a big deal and with all the choices you would be hard pushed not to find something you like, add to that the choice on offer in the lounge dining before boarding and you shouldn't have anything to complain about. The only two things that could be improved upon were the IFE which was rather behind the times and the amenity kit which my wife thought was pretty spartan compared to even TAM's J offering, although to be fair the very comfortable pyjamas and slippers (a bit on the small side for my size 44 feet) made up for it to some extent. So, lots more positives than negatives but then again I never do have many complaints with any airline I use, whether in the front or down the back.
Four days later the container arrived and was emptied by an excellent crew and all our items arrived safely. We are settling in and I am busy getting on with tidying up the long time neglected garden and redecoration of the house. I used to use the excuse of being on holiday to get out of doing those jobs but I can't get away with that any more.
Unloading in Argentina well under way.
Our missing suitcase turned up after the container, we were informed that we had to go to the local bus station to collect it which I thought was a bit stingy on BA
's part and poor PR
, not being prepared to send it straight to our door by taxi is not what one would expect when travelling in First Class. If Air France could do it for us when travelling in economy I don't see why BA
Oh almost forgot!!!! CUQUI is happy to see us again although she desperately needs a wash and a haircut. This time there is a difference though something tells me she somehow knows we shall be hanging around longer than usual.
CUQUI glad to see us after so long waiting.