User avatar
fbgdavidson
Topic Author
Posts: 3869
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:04 am

That time of year again, the Xmas trip home. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll only bore you lot with a BA longhaul report once a year from now on. That usually allows for some variance in the service so makes the report a little more interesting!

Route: Washington-Dulles – London Heathrow (Terminal 5)
Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA292
Aircraft: Boeing 777-236/ER
Registration: G-YMML
Seat: 11K (Club World) / 04A (First)
Distance: 3667 miles
Duration: 7hrs



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Dominic Nortney - Capital Aviation Photography
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Raymond Wang



As is usually the case with our longer trips ex-Washington we book a hotel with a decent park and fly rate and utilize the complimentary shuttle. This trip was no different except we weren’t actually going to stay the night in the room, merely check-in for a few hours and then take the shuttle in. Getting a little hungry (for pre-flight dinner) we headed up rather early, leaving the hotel around 6.15pm. The airport was almost deserted, with the exception of a couple of passengers at the World Traveller check-in we were the only passengers about, unusual given the two late evening flights BA operate. Needless to say we walked right to the front of the First check-in line, a BA Gold cardholder perk, even though we were travelling in Club World. The agent spent a good amount of time tapping away on his keyboard and I asked whether everything was OK and he said he was trying to find better seats for us. Thinking he was trying to put us in the E/F seats that are often preferred by couples I said we were quite happy with the window pairing. He smiled and said that he couldn’t do a window pair as we’d been upgraded to First.  biggrin  I said that I was familiar with the layout of the First cabin and that seats 1E and 1F that we’d been assigned would be perfect  Wink As I gathered our passports and boarding passes I checked to see if the flight was on time and noticed that one of the evening flights was, rather bizarrely, showing as a codeshare with United. It had a four digit flight number, 8748 or something like that, which had me thinking but I couldn’t come up with an explanation…

We walked down to the new security checkpoint which was rather excellent. Instead of being right beside the banks of check-in desks it had moved to a downstairs location into a setting that is rather reminiscent of Dallas Forth Worth in design cues. Certainly the kind of upgrade that IAD needs. Again there was barely a passenger in sight so we were swiftly handled by security. Once airside it was clear where the station (for the train system that is being built) to the concourses was going to be. We then took the moving walkway across to the B concourse where BA have operated in since I last reported on these flights. The new setting and concourse are a large step up from BA’s old stomping ground over in the C/D shed. The new facility (in the First section at least) has a decent view over the apron and really is a miniature version of the Galleries lounges at Heathrow.





First section of the Galleries lounge

We sat down with a couple of glasses of Taittinger NV celebrating our good fortune and the upcoming trip, although the lounge attendant looked a little bored with only us to keep her busy!  Smile I spoke with the lounge warden, explaining I was ‘redefining looking a gift horse in the mouth’ and asked which other seats in First were available. IMO the seats we had were about the worst! I don’t like the middle pairs due to the lack of storage space but in 1F you also have the toilet just at the end of your seat…She invited me round and showed me the seatmap so we plumped for 4A and 4E, so at least one of us (me!) could enjoy the views of Southern England!  Smile

With new boarding passes in hand we took pre-flight dinner around 7.30pm. The new pre-flight dining area for First passengers is much bigger area than previously and an added bonus were the Becher photographs decorating the walls. As a hobby photographer my wife introduced me to the work of the Bechers a few years back and I’ve always enjoyed their pieces.



First dining room

The pre-flight dining experience was rather mixed. We enjoyed the food but the service was rather spotty, OK, really spotty! We weren’t offered any water and the courses took an age to arrive, (even though the options were rather limited) and on an opinion based note, my wife hated nearly all the wines! As a result it took almost an hour and half to complete the whole affair! By this time we had been joined by a family of four who appeared to have all been upgraded too (as they called all their friends and told them!) and a gentleman traveling by himself.





Pre-flight dining: Clam chowder, goat cheese salad, chicken supreme, vanilla ice cream with granola and apple

We went back into the main section of the lounge and had a drink as the clock ticked down towards boarding. Thanks to our lengthy dinner the lounge was a little more alive when we returned as all those who checked in at a normal time filtered through!

At 9.40pm the flight was called and we gathered our coats and bags from the closet near the exntrance and went down to the gate, a short walk up the concourse from the lounge. The line for World Traveller and Traveller Plus was enormous but fortunately BA use an entirely separate gate and jetbridge for Club World and First so we went down there past the crowds.

I was welcomed onboard and escorted to my seat where a slightly rushed pre-departure routine took place. Washbags and pyjamas were handed out along with the usual macadamia nuts and drinks but newspapers didn’t do the rounds.


Lanson Noble Cuvee 1999, the standard macadamias and the current Anya Hindmarch washbag

The captain came on the PA and said that the flight was going to be a little longer than usual as the tail winds that usually aid eastbound transatlantic crossings were not as strong. Nevertheless the jetbridge went back from the aircraft very quickly and we taxied out to runway 1R leaving the ground just ten minutes after scheduled pushback.

Our flight path took us south of Baltimore and across the north end of the Delmarva peninsula before heading more northwards. Menus were handed out at this stage and it was explained that the rather tasty sounding Japanese style sea bass main course had been replaced with a Christmas dinner.

From the port side of the aircraft I had a great view of the Delaware Memorial Bridge’s twin spans and the city of Philadelphia just past it. It was a great night for flying and I was looking forward to the view of lower Manhattan when the one errant cloud of the flight got right in the way! As the canapés were delivered I decided that we were getting a little too into the flight to have any food and it would eat (ba dum!) into precious sleeping time. I told the superb purser (one of the best on any recent BA flight) of my intentions and he said to let the crew know and they’d put my bed together. My wife had other ideas and decided to give the lobster bisque a try and it was delivered with a small vessel of Camus XO. Lovely touch by the crew.  Smile


Post departure canapés

Somewhere over Connecticut I reclined my bed into a flat position and grabbed all the necessary bits and pieces to make it a comfortable night’s sleep. The purser then noticed what I was doing and came over saying that he felt bad someone hadn’t intervened to assist. I replied saying I’d done it a number of times before and it was no trouble, he then asked whether I wanted to be woken for breakfast and if I had anything in mind yet. I had not and usually skip the breakfast offerings into Heathrow in lieu of a sit down breakfast in the arrivals lounge. I slipped my eye mask on and earplugs in….

I next recall awaking for no particular reason somewhere over the Irish Sea, for once on these short overnights it wasn’t by an announcement, but it was just the ready time to prepare myself for landing and enjoy the views over the South of England, something I particularly enjoy doing on my flights home.


Land ahoy!…St Davids, Britain’s smallest city. So small you can’t even see it!

As I figured myself out the every chirpy purser asked whether he could fix me up with anything to eat or drink. A glass of orange juice sounded just the job so he brought one over, and then soon after offered some tea. He said I couldn’t start my morning properly without a cuppa, so it seemed almost rude to turn it down even though I was double fisting!  biggrin 


It would have been very unsporting to say no…

Our passage towards London took us skipping over the southern coast of Wales and then up the M4 corridor a little south of the aforementioned road itself…The snow from the preceding week offered a nice backdrop to the view.




1) The snowswept Welsh valleys
2) The two Severn Crossings
3) Greenham Common, the remainder of what was Europe’s longest runway clearly visible


As we crossed southern England the cloud went from non-existent to patchy to, well, blanket. There wasn’t a whole lot to see once we passed the Reading area with the exception of a bmi twin engined aircraft diving down and being enveloped by clouds heading into the Heathrow area on some STAR unknown to myself!


The First cabin in the morning light

After heading out east of Heathrow we went into similar territory as the bmi twin, down into the cloud, and with some twists and turns we emerged below the cloud cover surprisingly close to the deck very near runway 27R. A nice view of the BA Maintenance Area as always, and the somewhat nomadic G-BOAB in what I assume is an engine run up area….too bad those Olympus 593s won’t fire up anytime soon  Sad

Eastern maintenance area

After a rather slow roll out past the central terminal area we crossed over onto the taxiway running just south of the runway and past T5C. Every time I come to Heathrow a little more seems to be added, I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before BA calls that home too! We docked up at one of those gates right on the end of T5B with those enormously long jetbridges, good for alleviating the DVT that has set in during the crossing…


No doubt whole rules the roost here!

The long jetbridge and headstart from door 2L gave us the chance to gain some room over the group behind. However, my outfit wasn’t doing me much good. I’d opted to keep my sleeper suit on and had worn my full length coat over the top of them. The only problem with this was the fact the trouser legs on the large size suits are a bit on the long side and they kept wrapping themselves around my shoes as we shuffled across the concourse to the lifts down to the transit! I certainly wasn’t going to risk being entangled into one of the half dozen or so escalators one takes to descend into the depths of T5B!

The concourse was completely empty and only two other passengers (both from our flight) made it onto our train before it departed. The immigration hall felt a little busier but this was mostly thanks to the staff members from various agencies milling about. Most importantly IRIS was completely free and it was down to the baggage hall in double quick time.


Baggage hall at Terminal 5

The one problem with being off the plane fast is that your bags always aren’t and it took some time for ours to come through. As I waited a young African man came over to me and asked where the exit was. I asked him where he’d come from (New York) and if he had any items he needed to declare to customs or duty to be paid (no) and told him, and pointed at, the green channel. Imagine my dismay as he walked down the blue channel for European Union arrivals, oh goody!  biggrin 

By the time bags started coming through a decent amount of passengers from our flight had joined us at the baggage belt and for the first time I can remember at T5 our bags were not amongst the first to make it through.

With bags claimed we cleared customs and into the public arrivals area and up to the Arrivals lounge. We were given an invitation to the Concorde Breakfast Room, left our suitcases at the door and immediately got a couple of showers. I asked for one of the elusive infinity bathrooms and even though it wasn’t the sour faced woman that usually staffs the showers we were fobbed off with regular shower suites. Sigh. I agreed to meet Kirstin in the breakfast room once we were done.

I called my mother and told her that we were would be ready in about an hour and she said she was just pulling up to the terminal, this was despite my advice to the contrary when arranging pickup the day before. That’s what happens when your regular ride (Dad!) doesn’t come! As Kirstin and I were in separate shower rooms I said we’d come and meet her at Costa Coffee in 45 minutes…mothers, eh?  Smile


Concorde Breakfast Room in the Arrivals Lounge

After a freshen up I went to the Concorde Breakfast Room, and was the only person in there, although after a few minutes someone came through from the kitchen and took my order of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, a little something to settle the stomach after an overnight flight. It wasn’t until around ten minutes before we were due to meet my mother that my wife arrived having experienced hairdryer technical problems….wives, eh?  Wink

We shared some of my breakfast when it arrived and were soon on our way home…
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
User avatar
CrimsonNL
Posts: 2099
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:34 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:57 pm

Hey nice report, thanks for sharing!

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
too bad those Olympus 593s won’t fire up anytime soon

I hear you on that one...

Martijn
Always comparing your flown types list with mine
 
Baexecutive
Posts: 621
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:29 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:17 pm

Hello,

As ever another excellent TR.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
the sour faced woman that usually staffs the showers

I hear ya, whats her problem LOL.
 
User avatar
ClassicLover
Posts: 4748
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:27 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:53 pm



Quoting Fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
He said I couldn’t start my morning properly without a cuppa, so it seemed almost rude to turn it down even though I was double fisting!

I had to look up "double fisting" to get the full meaning of the term, though I had an idea what you meant. It's not a good term to look up on Google either by the way, judging from the other meaning  Smile

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
It would have been very unsporting to say no…

*laugh* I like that!

That was a great read, thanks for that  Smile Look forward to the next one!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
crdaus
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:13 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:47 pm

Thank you for your report. Great detail and interesting observations. Your trip reports always make me feel I am there also.

How do you think BA's service is holding up? I have been doing the SYD-BKK route in F on BA a few times over the last year and have found that BA's service has remained at a high standard even though other airlines (notably SQ) have diminished theirs. I have been particularly impressed with the BA cabin crews who remain cheerful and service focussed despite their union agitations with BA management.

In terms of on-board catering, it is interesting that canapes are still being served on your route whereas they have been discontinued on BA9 and BA10 - although an "amuse bouche", not mentioned in the menu, is served immediately before the main meal.

I am also impressed that Tattinger NV was served in the F lounge at IAD and it is also offered in QF F lounge at SYD along with Verve Cliquot NV. However, the BA/QF F lounge in BKK offers something really cheap and the food there is awful now.

I look forward to reading your return trip report!
 
shamrock321
Posts: 700
Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 7:27 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:13 pm

Good report, very enjoyable. Regards Shamrock321!
 
Genius12
Posts: 246
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:49 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:49 pm

Very good trip report as usual Fraser!

Would be interesting to see your LHR-IAD trip written up. Any side-trip to JER?!  Wink
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8300
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:59 am

Hi Fraser,

Another good read, always enjoyable and always I find myself with a smile on my face when reading them, thanks for that.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll only bore you lot with a BA longhaul report once a year from now on.

- Oh bugger, just an annual fix!?

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
we’d been upgraded to First

- Nice, and a good thing as you deserve it!

So, off to Jersey on this trip?

Looking forward to the jaunt home.

Best Wishes

Mark
111 732 733 734 735 736 73G 738 739,7M8 BBJ 741 742 743 744 752 753 762 763 764 772 77L 773 77W L15 D10 D30 D40 AB3 AB6 312 313 318 319 320 20N 321 21N 332 333 342 343 345 346 359 351 388 CS1 CS3 I86 154 SSJ CRJ CR7 CR9 CRK 145 170 175 220
 
eastern747
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:34 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:32 am

OK DON'T GET THIS
I assume you bought, or your company bought you a J ticket. No reason for the upgrade given.
You go to the pre-flight lounge/supper for F/C and complain about the service and wine....
you get on a 7 hour flight and have to dress in pj's and sleep flay and only in seats you wanted not offered.Wifey not happy.I think you should be ashamed. Trip report was all about you....BAgoes way out of the way to please you........as been said many times before..the more you give them...the more they want.....disgusting...was the BA logo facing you on your crappy wine?
 
User avatar
fbgdavidson
Topic Author
Posts: 3869
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:24 am

Thanks for the comments...

Quoting Crdaus (Reply 4):
How do you think BA's service is holding up? I have been doing the SYD-BKK route in F on BA a few times over the last year and have found that BA's service has remained at a high standard even though other airlines (notably SQ) have diminished theirs. I have been particularly impressed with the BA cabin crews who remain cheerful and service focussed despite their union agitations with BA management.

Better than expected, at least in First. Club World is suffering a bit but as you the say the cabin crew seem unaffected in their attitudes towards passengers. In my travels with BA I almost universally feel the crews are proud of the airline and product on offer, with some cutbacks being made it must be hard for them to stay loyal to the product but they do so.

Quoting Crdaus (Reply 4):
In terms of on-board catering, it is interesting that canapes are still being served on your route whereas they have been discontinued on BA9 and BA10 - although an "amuse bouche", not mentioned in the menu, is served immediately before the main meal.

On the return flight the amuse bouche was served in lieu of canapes.

Quoting Genius12 (Reply 6):
Would be interesting to see your LHR-IAD trip written up. Any side-trip to JER?!  



Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 7):
So, off to Jersey on this trip?

You'll have to see. Wink

Quoting Eastern747 (Reply 8):
I assume you bought, or your company bought you a J ticket. No reason for the upgrade given.
You go to the pre-flight lounge/supper for F/C and complain about the service and wine....
you get on a 7 hour flight and have to dress in pj's and sleep flay and only in seats you wanted not offered.Wifey not happy.I think you should be ashamed. Trip report was all about you....BAgoes way out of the way to please you........as been said many times before..the more you give them...the more they want.....disgusting...was the BA logo facing you on your crappy wine?

You're certainly entitled to your opinion but I prefer to judge a product based on what is presented and offered, in this case to F class passengers. I could make excuses for everything noting 'but it was OK because we were upgraded' but that would've been tedious and clouded my judgement somewhat. I very nearly did write a Verdict section at the end, something I usually do, and in my draft I started off saying that I was very grateful for the upgrade, and I was.

You might not have read my other reports but I'm not exactly a stranger to flying premium classes (all self funded I might add since you brought it up) and feel that reporting on them as they are is the best way to not only report my experience but to help others when researching and planning similar trips.

Trip report was all about me? OK. well what do you expect me to do? By its very nature it is a recollection of my experience and my travelling companion??  Yeah sure
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
JFKMan
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:46 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:55 pm

Nice report. No meal pics?  Sad

But still...looks really nice. Thanks
NYC
 
lukeyboy95
Posts: 1058
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:07 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:20 am

Many thanks for this TR Fraser...

I too looked up double fisting... could you please give me the meaning to which was intended in your TR... It is a rediculous inuendo in a google search! Well done on your upgrade... looks of a really great standard... Its great you took the time to considerately draft this report for people of the forum but I must pick up on...

Quoting Eastern747 (Reply 8):
.I think you should be ashamed. Trip report was all about you....BAgoes way out of the way to please you........as been said many times before..the more you give them...the more they want.....disgusting...was the BA logo facing you on your crappy wine?

A completely out-of-spirit and unprovoked comment on your report... I'm sorry Easert747 but there is a certain decorum that can be used when commenting on TRs that users have gone to the effort to make. Are you intoxicated!?

Again thanks for the TR,

Luke
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
User avatar
fbgdavidson
Topic Author
Posts: 3869
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Sat Jan 09, 2010 2:50 pm



Quoting JFKMan (Reply 10):
Nice report. No meal pics?  

I didn't eat on the aircraft, well only the canapes.

BA make a big deal about feeding First and Club World passengers in the lounge before boarding takes place on quite a few of the shorter overnight flights, particularly from the US East Coast. In Club World this is known as 'Sleeper Service' (and there is no full meal service in Club World in the air) but in First there is full meal service on the ground (which I partook in) and in the air, which I didn't in lieu of sleep.

Quoting Lukeyboy95 (Reply 11):
I too looked up double fisting... could you please give me the meaning to which was intended in your TR... It is a rediculous inuendo in a google search!

To clarify, it'd be the meaning where one person is currently consuming more than one drink at the same time  biggrin 
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
lukeyboy95
Posts: 1058
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:07 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:10 pm



Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 12):
To clarify, it'd be the meaning where one person is currently consuming more than one drink at the same time

Ah-ha. I see ... well I'm often guilty of double fisting!
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
Comeflywithme
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:51 pm

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:01 pm

Great to see one of your reports again....I always look forward to reading them.

Must say the IAD pre-flight dining presentation does look a lot finer than the T5 CCR. The tables are set out splendidly. Although you had a slow wait the food looks not bad at all.

I like the T5 Arrivals Lounge it's a nice place to relax and freshen up. The CCR breakfast room was very quiet on my last visit as well. Pity your mother arrived early and you had to rush.....typical  Big grin
 
User avatar
fbgdavidson
Topic Author
Posts: 3869
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:11 am



Quoting Lukeyboy95 (Reply 13):
Ah-ha. I see ... well I'm often guilty of double fisting!

Glad you figured out which form of double fisting was yours  Wink

Quoting Comeflywithme (Reply 14):
Must say the IAD pre-flight dining presentation does look a lot finer than the T5 CCR. The tables are set out splendidly. Although you had a slow wait the food looks not bad at all.

The dining room is rather nice. It'd be better if there were a few less tables as the room is a little congested. Not much privacy if it is full, but then again you've got to be prepared for a possible 17 First passengers to appear simultaneously I guess....

Quoting Comeflywithme (Reply 14):
I like the T5 Arrivals Lounge it's a nice place to relax and freshen up.

Indeed. The concept of the pre-flight dinner with post flight shower and breakfast is an excellent one. BA have nicely managed to get all the elements in there rather well. It is too bad the shower rooms feel a little pre-fab with the plastic walls and funny lino type floor otherwise it'd be stellar!
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
Stretch 8
Posts: 2468
Joined: Fri May 28, 1999 4:00 am

RE: BA First: Washington Dulles - London (w/pics)

Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:51 pm

Fraser: Thanks for this report, top-notch as usual.

As you may recall, I flew IAD-LHR-DBV return back in September, in CW (I was too lazy to do a TR). Your description of the new IAD lounge is right on the money. It is a huge improvement over the old location. I also thought that T5 (my first visit) was really fantastic. Loking forward to my next trip on BA.

R
Maggs swings, it's a drive deep to left! The Tigers are going to the World Series!!!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ConnectAir, TFlintoff24 and 106 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos