Let's go to the USA this time! – Crossing the Atlantic on BA: AMS-LGW-JFK
A few months before, me and my partner decided for a short holiday in New York. It would be a successful trip, with loads of sightseeing, full shopping bags, many positive impressions and some interesting flights again.
Checking the fares and travel options for us, it came out that a combination of BA and AA would offer us a great fare and best use of our time in the USA. An early afternoon arrival, with the last possible return to Europe on the way back. This suits us best, and we could even spend the last full day in the city. We also decided to use JFK over EWR, since there are enough convenient travel options to downtown Manhattan, where our magnificent 4 star hotel was located, very near to Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building.
BA offers Y class passengers to check in from 24 hours in advance, using the website. Some searching around the web and forums learned me that the flight to JFK would be on a 4 class B772, and therefore I really checked in early to make sure that my seat choice was available. It all worked out well. I stored our PDF format boarding passes on my PDA phone.
On the day of travel, we dropped the bags around 90 minutes before our departure. Dedicated BA groundstaff was kind and helpful, they checked our Esta informations carefully for US immigration use, and checked the baggage through to JFK, including a short connection tag attached for LGW rampworkers. The lady additionally handed us a leaflet with the transfer information and procedures for LGW. A nice touch, I have to say!
Boarding was from gate D14. Security for this non-Schengen flight is done at the gate, but went easily. Not too much passengers on this flight. Sorry to have again a security staff at AMS who didn’t trust my Canon camera’s and lenses… I had to take all of it out of my bag. It seems that until now, this only happens to me at my home airport, every time again! One of the reasons that I dislike AMS security staff.
G-DOCX at the gate at AMS
Anyway, preboarding was already performed, and not soon after, also the actual boarding commenced.
Flight No.: BA8112 Date: 16APR09
STD: 1005 ATD: 1003
STA: 1015 ATA: 0947
A/C: Boeing 737-400 Reg No.: G-DOCX
Seat: 24F – Economy Class
My 98th ride on a Boeing 737, and the first time on this same machine. Good to score a new entry to the logbook again. G-DOCX is a 1993 build type –400
Photo © Kim Philipp Piskol
Groundstaff friendly again, as well a the senior purser, greeting at the cabin entrance. She was assisted by a very nice team of younger cabin crew, and the complete team performed well during the whole flight.
Doors were closed already at 09:51am and we departed early. Also a short taxiing today, runway 24 was the active one for departure. Load on the flight maybe around 40%.
Cabin on the BA B737-400
Side panels in bad condition on G-DOCX
Chewing gum, not only on Ryanair, now also on BA …
Contents of the seatpocket
Taxiing at AMS (or LHR?). BA is all around here!
After takeoff, good views on the cities Hoofddorp (my former place for living) and Nieuw-Vennep (where I live nowadays). Now you can imaging the views I have when I sit in my livingroom and look outside.
Airborne runway 24
The city of Hoofddorp
My house in in this picture
When we approached the coastline to cross the Northsea, cabin crew started service. Two were assigned for Business class, the other two for Economy section. They started from the front, so we were almost served last, meanwhile we approached the British island.
There was only a choise of pretzels or a Fruesli bar, plus a drink. My coke came in the tiny can variant.
Service on BA8112
During final approach for LGW, the airport was visible on our right, under the scattered clouds.
Gatwick Airport is visible already
Short finals runway 08R at LGW
Landing was performed way ahead of the schedule, runway 08R. Parking on the remote section of the terminal, gate 104. After deplaning, we had to cross the bridge. We had some time to spend, so good opportunity to take some pics. It was the first time for me using this crossover, even with so many LGW visits done before!
Parking at the gate
Good views from the bridge, Thomsonfly B757-200
Crossing the bridge at LGW
A BA B737-500 starting up below us
After the easy transfer at LGW, back into the terminal. During the transfer, we had once more security, including shoes off (not common on mainland Europe). Staff was very friendly, no stress, and sometimes even joking. That makes passing such security checkpoints more bearable for sure!
Some remaining times to stroll around the large amount of shops in the terminal at LGW. Coffee at Costa, good place to spend my last remaining Pound Sterling, which were still in the wallet from previous visits… A perfect place for us at the window, overlooking the BA longhaul departures.
Our aircraft was visible also, so I was able to obtain the registration already. It was as planned a B772, and being served by Alpha Catering services. Another B772 was getting ready for departure to Orlando.
Since our departure time came closer, we walked down towards the gate. Gate 62 was ours. Since our boarding pass was issued already at home, and reissued to a real one at AMS, we went straigtly to the security officers, checking the passport, asking how many days we would stay in the US and wished us a good trip. Nice that this guy wished me a goodday in Dutch language.
The mightly B777-200ER, ready for the USA
Four friendly BA groundstaff doing preboarding. And checking the Esta data again if everything is matching. A lot of passengers in the waiting area, guess it would be a good load to JFK.
Boarding started at 11:15hrs UK time, First and Business, together with the last rows of Economy class first. So, we got on the bird quite early.
Flight No.: BA2173 Date: 16APR09
STD: 1200 ATD: 1159
STA: 1420 ATA: 1358
A/C: Boeing 777-200ER Reg No.: G-VIIC
Seat: 39B – Economy Class
For me the 12th time to fly on a Boeing 777 aircraft. First time on this BA example.
Photo © Jenny Coffey
Onboard greeted by a friendly male cabin attendant. Last row of seats for us, on purpose. These are the only partner seats in Economy class on BA’s 4 class configured Boeing 777s. Good choice, since the cabin was full house on this flight. Not a single seat was unused, expect row 40 in the middle. These 3 seats are used for crewrest and blocked off by a curtain.
With early closure of the doors, an ontime departure was performed. Taxiing towards the active, runway 08R. Followed by a not too long takeoff roll to get airborne.
The climb out took us further with a left turn, offering another good view on LGW from the air. No good photo opportunities this time, since the sun was facing us already. Departure area was also slightly unstable with bumps and shakers regularly. The flightcrew informed us about it and that they will take us to a smoother altitude soon.
Taxiing to the runway at LGW
Airborne from runway 08R
Gatwick below, interesting traffic, including Mexicana B767-200
Climbing further away into the skies …
About 30 minutes inflight, crew distributed first drinkservice, accompanied by a small bag of pretzels.
And of course the US immigration cards and Visa Waivers were handed out, good to spend some time by filling out these forms. Meanwhile a smell of food came from the pantry behind us. Mealservice was next on the program.
A snack bite first
My meal was AVML (Asian Vegetarian), and tasted very good! Good salad also!
Normal meal was fish or sausage. Here the sausage, with mashed potatoes. My partner said it was ok, but preferred something else …
After the meal was cleaned up, time to relax. I didn’t like the old IFE system and small screen in front of me, but the map is always nice to look at. For the rest some gigabytes of music on my HTC device, which helped me over the Atlantic. Good views on cold Canada.
Our position on the map. Personal IFE system screen.
Cabin view with full house on G-VIIC, while over the Atlantic
Amazing views again.
An Air Berlin A330 was heading close towards us, probably on the same route. It got behind us, at least just out of views. When we started descend to lower flightlevels, it flew over us heading South, so I guess it was heading for an airport in Florida. I was not able to get a good picture though… Also the pre arrival snack was served. A box with fruit, pair of sandwiches and some nuts/raisins.
Pre Arrival sandwich pack. Asian Vegetarian style as well (I ordered it specially)
Approach took us over Long Island, interesting views and a smooth ride. Some sharp turns before establishment on the ILS for runway 04R. On short finals some a first glimpse of the skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan. We touched gently on the ground at 13.49 Local New York time. Taxiing to terminal 7, gate 3, took 9 minutes only. Parking was in between a BA 744 from LHR and a OpenSkies B757 from ORY? At least, I was sure that it was not the AMS flight, since that would have been G-BPEK, and the one at JFK was ‘EJ’.
Approaching for JFK
A little airport below us
First sights of Manhattan at the horizon
After landing 04R, taxiing to the gate at terminal 7
Parking next to a big brother, originating from LHR
After deplaning and a friendly goodbye it took about 30 minutes to clear immigration. We were the only flight at that moment. Groundstaff in BA uniform was taking care for everybody, checking if the documents were all filled out correctly and also the immigration officer was a nice guy. Not much words, but friendly and kind, so a positive welcome to the USA. Our suitcases were already on the belt waiting for us, and clearing customs was without problems as well.
We arrived in our hotel around 16.30 local time, Millennium Plaza hotel. This hotel offered us a fantastic room on the 35th floor, overlooking Manhattan, almost touching the Chrysler building and with clear views on the Empire State Building. Since the room was on a corner, the other 2 windows offered views on the Eastriver and Queensboro Bridge, at the far horizon also La Guardia airport was visible. I can only recommend this hotel, it is definitely worth the money and conveniently located near Grand Central Station but also in a more quiet area of Manhattan.
About the flights. I was happy with the BA service provided to us. Really everywhere friendly groundstaff and really helpful too. On board good service, also meals were good. A bit poor on the AMS-LGW sector though. A sandwich or wrap should be possible BA! Drinks on the JFK bound flight were not offered too often, but available anytime in the galley. I think juices came around 2 times only.
IFE on G-VIIC is old style, but I read that it will be updated this year.
Seatpitch is ok for this duration of flight, especially this nice partnerseat on row 39, which offers normal recline as well. Amenities offered were socks, a headphones, eyeshade and a toothbrush/paste.
For sure nothing to complain with BA, and I will be loyal enough to give them another try next time, again via LGW!
Thanks for reading. Your comments are really appreciated!
[Edited 2009-05-03 02:33:26]