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newbief1yer
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Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:05 pm

Background

The background for this trip was, in March this year, we had just qualified for out first BA Companion voucher and wanted to use it in October. Scanning though various location we noticed that BA were starting their direct Chengdu (CTU) service from September onwards. We grabbed this opportunity and booked two tickets via the superb BA website, using the BA Amex companion voucher, £1100 poorer but super excited, I couldn't wait to try out the BA 777 Club world to CTU. My only gripe was I was unable to select my seats in advance, I thought at least with club world when you are expected to shell out your (or your company's) hard earned money, BA should at least allow us to reserve a seat in advance. Well, it was not to be. So will wait for the 24 hour check window to open before we can select our seats.

Next stop Chengdu!

Route Map, courtesy of gcmap.com

1: British Airways BA 89 : LHR - CTU
Flight Reg: [url= http://www.airframes.org/reg/gymmk] G-YMMK [/url]; delivered Dec 2000
Boeing 777-236ER
Seat 15K
Departure time 15:35 (15:45)
Arrival 08:55 (08:20)
18 Oct 2013
Price: GBP 550 (BA AMEX Redmeption voucher)



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Photo © Steven Austen
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Photo © Akbarali Mastan

24 hours before departure

Checked in 24 hours before departure. Got pretty decent seats as I had desired. 15 j and k. Bassinet seats. Last row of club world cabin.

One month before our travel date I grabbed a long stay parking at Purple Parking - 11 days for a mere £62.00, a steal for sure. Having used them before, if you have an extra 20 minutes to spare, I think is the best deal in the market. Regular, free shuttle ply from the parking area to all 4 terminals. Since our flight was in the afternoon, I was sure we would have ample time to spare and hence went for this deal. (But towards the end of the trip, we realised this is not the best method if you are using T5; better options available closer to T5)

On day of travel

Left home with plenty of time to spare with the plan of using the galleries lounge. Reached purple car park, seamlessly connected to t5, albeit it was a 25 minute shuttle ride away.

At t5, there was a bit of queue for club world baggage drop. Wife mentioned that it would've been quicker to use the world traveller baggage drop instead  

Security was quite brisk although t5 looked extremely busy. A quick scroll through duty free, picking up some chocolates we made our way through to the south galleries.
En-route made an appointment with the elemis spa for a 15 minute massage. Had an hour and 15 minutes for lunch before hitting the spa

Lounge – South Galleries:

Heathrow Lounge – South Galleries – T5
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The lounge seemed extremely busy, I am not sure if its always the same, but today it was bursting at its seams. Found a decent place to relax and grab some food and drinks.

Tidiness: perhaps it was due to the large crowd, but the lounge did look a bit shabby, crumbs of food all over the place, tardy sofas, etc. on the whole not impressed with the tidiness. Staff seemed a bit demoralised too.

Food: decent selection of food on offer. Hot food consisted of pasta, rice and Thai curry, and wide ranges of jacket potatoes and varied fillings. Cold selection included a good array of salad selection along with wide ranges of cold sandwiches. Drinks wise I felt it was excellent. Great variety of wines, champagnes and hard liquor. On the whole food and beverage was excellent for a lounge that seemed this busy.

Drinks: Other facilities: there were a lot computers for business activities, a kids play area, a cinema - on the whole quite well stocked to while away a few hours.

Toilets: was just about alright. Not as clean it could've been but not filthy either.
Staff attention to detail. Could improve on this. More so the body language of the staff just felt as if they were forced to be there.

On the whole I am not impressed as this is BA flagship lounge. Been to better lounges (the priority pass lounge at T3- fantastic).decor looked outdated, average staff, only saving grace was the food and bev. on offer.

From here it was a quick jaunt to the spa. The spa was very good, albeit only for 15 minutes, I thought it was a good way to relax before a long haul flight.

Boarding

Boarding commenced at 14:30 and we reached the boarding gates by 15:00. We were one of the last passengers to board. We were all bussed (crowded bus..!) to the aircraft which was parked in a remote stand; which looked like closer to T3. It was a long ride away.

Expecting to see the smiling panda aircraft, it was not to be so. Our aircraft for today was G-YMMK, Built in 2000 and delivered to BA in Dec 2000. Interestingly, speaking to the crew, it seems that BA rotate that aircraft and not specific to Chengdu. In fact, during taxiing, we did notice the aircraft waiting for departure elsewhere, although I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture.

I think this was the first time I was boarding a 777 via stairs and the size of the engine left me gobsmacked! It’s no wonder that this aircraft has been a work horse for many airlines and was she a beauty.

GobSmacked.!
http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y437/Varun_KR/DSC_6810_zpsc680848e.jpg

G-YMMK – delivered December 2000
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Bus to G-YMMK
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Boarding was quick. We were not introduced by names, but were offered drinks even before we reached our seats. Champagne it was for Me.!

Nothing much to say about the seat and cabin layout as I am sure it’s been discussed many a times on this forum. There were a few kids at the back of the club world cabin so not sure if this was the best idea to choose the last row seats. Nevertheless the load looked light and I later came to know that out of a total 250 odd capacity this 777 could carry, the flight had a total load of 80...! 0 in f, 12 in club, 8 in WT+ and 60 in WT. Not feeling very optimistic about this route.

Cabin crew were very friendly (special mention to Gary, who has been serving BA for 40 years now.!) Got to get a Tour of the first cabin. Having not seen many first cabins, I thought the BA one looked the part - sophisticated, clean, and crisp and felt new.

Always – I ve never left Heathrow without seeing these whales
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For better of for worse - IAG
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First impressions about the club world was that it felt slightly cramped to my liking, although I did like the clever use of space. Seats comfortable and with the divider up I like the sense of privacy you get. One gripe is that to get a good view, you need to sit in row 10, which means that you were too close to the lavatory. Or else the best seats would be row 15, which meant you had a window seat with direct aisle access, but right over the wings.

New First cabin tour
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Flight took off at the scheduled time and we were airborne before 4:00 pm. Announcements made by the captain and menu card handed over.

Nearly empty Club world cabin, after take off
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I like the manual – neat and professional
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After take off –Southall?
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BA, BA and more BA
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Menu – note the Keralan veg curry – surprised to see an South Indian dish on a Chinese flight
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Coffin – kidding, was a very decent seat and a very good flat bed
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The food option looked appetising and was looking forward to it. was surprised to see a Kerala veg curry on a flight to china, and was almost tempted to try it. Tried the buck fizz for first round drinks service. Food quickly followed with prawn salad as the starters. The starter was amazing and my wife could not believe that this was airline food. This was followed by Chengdu style chicken (again excellent) and topped it off with some delicious chocolate and orange mousse and green tea ice cream. On the whole food was easily the best I've ever had without a shadow of a doubt. Service was also prompt and it never felt too hurried or lethargic, top so far.

Crab salad starter
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Chengdu style Chicken – sumptuous
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Yummy desserts…
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Post dinner drinks
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Pre landing snack – salmon and scrambled egg wrap
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Tried out the AVOD whilst having dinner. The usual BA standard, better screens for club world, but choices were very good for a 10 hour flight. Good collection of recent movies. settled for GI Joe retaliation, which is a kind of a movie that you leave your logic and brains back at home and just enjoy the pyrotechnics on screen.

Movie and dinner done with it was now time to experience the flat bed. We were somewhere above Moscow when I resigned and tried to sleep for a bit.

Slept off, just about now..
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Had an ok’ish sleep, not as good as I had imagined, but that could be more to do with my excitement than the flat bed not doing its job. Might've got around 3-4 hours of sleep before it was time for breakfast.

Breakfast was served an hour away from landing. Again it was top quality. We even had warm breads.! Tried the salmon and ham roll which was tasty and did well as a breakfast.

The descent into Chengdu was smooth but just as any other Chinese cities these days, it was foggy, more like smoggy and raining. Toughed down at 8:30 and we were at the gates by 8:50. Immigration and baggage collection was super quick and we were out of the airport in our taxi by 9:15.!

Note: liked the captains announcement welcome us to Chengdu, signing off by saying thank you for choosing BA, and not like we had any choice!   like the humorous touch.

On the whole the best way to reach Chengdu from London. Although I doubt BA's tactics. With loads like these I see it quite hard for BA to sustain this. I am not even sure if the 3:30PM return to Heathrow, would give passengers enough time to connect to any US bound flight. As just an O&D route I see it hard for BA to sustain this, perhaps a re-jig in timing should allow for any further US connections and perhaps this should be the angle BA must be looking towards.

Reverse thrusters on..
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2: British Airways BA 88 : CTULHR
Flight Reg: [url= http://www.airframes.org/reg/gymmi] G-YMMI [/url]; delivered Dec 2000
Boeing 777-236ER
Seat 11A
Departure time 12:45 (13:35)
Arrival 16:05 (16:50)
28 Oct 2013
Price: GBP 550 (BA AMEX Redmeption voucher)



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Photo © Hualiang liao
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Photo © Jay Piboontum



Checked in the previous day. This time it looked like. There were a lot more passengers in club world than before. All the window seats had been greyed out and we had been assigned the first row window seats 10 j and k. Not sure about how inconvenient it would be so close to the lavatories, decided to change seats to the middle 2 seats - 12 e and f. Hoping to see if we can amend it at the airport.

Another thing to note was that the flight time looks to be changed to what it originally was - from a 10:55 departure to 12:45, landing into London at 16:05. I am not sure if this was done due to the dst time change, but for whatever reason, we were not informed by BA. Only got to know it when I was about to check in online.

On the day of the flight, we reached Chengdu international airport with a lot of time to spare in the hope that we would be able to shop some last minute spicy delicacies from Sichuan. Reaching the airport I realised that terminal 1 was still the old terminal where we had been before and was looking its age. It was terminal 2 where all domestic flights were used (except Sichuan airlines at the time of writing).

Chengdu international airport is not the easiest as there were a couple of groups of Indian and German tourists who were completely lost and I had to step in to help them navigate the airport.

We were told that the check in gate would only open in an hour’s time. There is nothing much to do in the international departure area of the airport and advisable that you reach there as close as possible to the time of the flight.

The check in gates opened at 10:30 for a 12:45 flight. The check in area was the bare minimum and nothing special for the club world section. We were told that due to the storms in London, there would be a delay of around 40 minutes (which meant a new departure time of 13:25). We were also able to change our seats to a window one, 11 a and b, but we were told that the club world cabin is full (nearly). I was happy and disappointed at the same time - happy about the future of this route but disappointed that the cabin is full, I was being selfish  

Check in counters
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Map of CTU
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FIDS
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Check in was attentive and all details explicitly mentioned - the baggage tags, our lounge access, etc...Good on them.

As there was no other international flight during this time from Chengdu airport, immigration was sub.1 minute and we at the airside in no time.

Once airside, you realise how difficult it would be for BA to maintain a premium clientele on this sector. Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel that lounge access is very important for premium passengers, and the lounge access for club and first passengers was a joke,, if not a laugh out riot. it was a small room with some sofas scattered with few verity of drinks and some crisps/peanuts. I would be horribly gutted if I were a 6000 GBP+ paying first class passenger on this route. BA really need to give this a thought, I can surely say this was truly sub standard, perhaps on par with the lounge I used in Tangier. The only way I can think of is to substitute the 777 for a 787, or else I predict this route to disappear into there realms of historic routes in less than a year, given the current situation.

The empty CTU Terminal 1
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Lounge food at CTU
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So far the entire check in process at Chengdu is in shambles (for premium customers) - no availability of early check in, very poor duty free selection and a less than adequate lounge, doesn't warrant BA to charge the premium tag it does. Hopefully the flight is better than the on-ground service at CTU.

Boarding

G-YMMI – Delivered November 2000
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Getting ready
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Boarding gate at CTU
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On Board G-YMMI
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Boarding was on time and although it was again, being in China, chaotic. There was no announcements made, and we just began standing in line and we were allowed to board! No priority queue for premium members, parents travelling with children, no announcements what so ever. Once again, in line with the poor ground service at Chengdu.

On board, we were directed to our seats. So far, only once have I been addressed as my name. The 13 year old aircraft did not show its age and was looking quite new. Slightly dirty with a few pieces of crumbs on my seat/floor area, but nothing too drastic. I particularly liked my seat as it gave me a good view of the great RR engine, which I have now become a huge fan of. (Novice question - do airlines get to choose which engine they want to use, and do BA choose RR being British or are RR actually better than their GE counterpart?)

It was a refreshing change to hear the captains’ voice, in china. He duly apologised for the delay and the reason for the delay being the late arrival of the flight into Chengdu due to storms in London. He explained that the route looked clear and we should be into London with a flight time of 11 hours.

Boarding was soon complete and we disembarked some 35 minutes behind schedule. It was a short taxi to the runaway, and that's where the twin RR's came into life.

From here on the rest of the flight was uneventful. Similar to our onward journey, our trip back to London was turbulence free and very good service. Once again the crew were efficient, but lacked any personal touch, except for one Singapore based CC, who made an effort to speak and chat casually (informed me about CTU going 787 from next summer onwards). No complaints on the whole, but would've expected a bit more of a personal service, an X factor, which was missing.

Plane Spotting at CTU - Sichuan Airlines
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Air China (A319 - Delivered Sep 2004)
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Load was slightly better this time with 4 in F (Chinese senior officials - had their own personal coach drop them to the aircraft, and later on in LHR, had a Jaguar waiting for them), 25 in CW, 10 in WT+ and 70 in WT, taking it to a total of 109 pax.

Once again, the food on board, personally, was fantastic! Easily the best I ve had on a flight. Perhaps a bit more can be done on the presentation, but all that is forgotten once you start eating it. Good quality wines and champagnes also n offer. On the whole I couldn't ask for more, in terms of F&B for the 11 hour flight - great lunch, followed by a well stocked bar, and then a pre landing snack - perfect! Top marks for BA on this front.

Stir fried prawns and Kung pao sauce
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Chinese Mushrooms
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Opera cake for dessert
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Stir fried sea bream for mains
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Spiced salmon with wasabi mayonnaise as starters
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Menu
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A couple of movies later fell asleep for around 3-4 hours. Once again, the bed proved very effective and the only reason for a short nap, was because I chose not to over sleep.

Wembley Arena
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The Marketing genius, i.e. The O2
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Is this normal – 43000 Feet?
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Once we approached London, we had to circle a few times before we were given a landing slot. The landing was one of the smoothest I have experienced. As predicted, we were 40-45 minutes behind schedule. It was then a quick hop to the immigration, and once done, bags were waiting for us - priority tags did work, as ours was one of the first bags to be on the conveyer belt.

BA Heavies – The whale and the beauty side by side
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Can never leave Heathrow without seeing these heavies – do they ever fly?
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American Marmite livery – love it or hate it – I love it!
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In summary, for a redemption ticket, this value ticket cannot be matched - in terms of efficient service, quality of food, good beds, decent IFE. But paying a full price ticket, I cannot say the same about it, unless they up the ante at their ground services in Chengdu.

Hope you liked the trip report, thanks for reading and all your comments welcome. Until next time, safe flying and keep the trip reports coming. Adios..!

Few Sights and sounds of Sichuan
The stunning Jiuzhaigou
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Huanglong
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I like to move it ..Move it..
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Giant Buddha at Leshan
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Previous trip reports:

China - The Low Cost Way - Spring Airlines - SJW-CTU
China United Airlines (KN) - CTU - SJW - B737-700
Norwegian B737 - LGW-TOS-BGO-LGW
Jet Airways : LHR – COK
Barra Trip – that was not to be
LHR - KWI - BA 747 - Part 1 - Middle East - China
Part 5: PVG-LHR - BA - Economy - B777
Part 2: KWI-DXB - FlyDubai - Economy - B737
Part 4A&B - SHA-SJW-SHA - FM: Eco: B737
Part 3A&B : DXB-HKG-PVG: CX & KA :Eco: A333
Morocco Trip - LGW-RAK-TNG-LHR - EasyJet & Iberia
Dusseldorf Calling - BA & EZY - Club/Eco - A321
 
Flightsimboy
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2005 12:49 pm

RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:17 pm

Great to see this trip report on the new service to Chengdu!! and in style on BA Club Wold!!

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
My only gripe was I was unable to select my seats in advance, I thought at least with club world when you are expected to shell out your (or your company's) hard earned maoney, BA should at least allow us to reserve a seat in advance. Well, it was not to be. So will wait for the 24 hour check window to open before we can select our seats.

That is a shame, that you cannot select seats in advance on BA...Is this normal for all flights?

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
I think this was the first time I was boarding a 777 via stairs and the size of the engine left me gobsmacked! It’s no wonder that this aircraft has been a work horse for many airlines and was she a beauty.

GobSmacked.!

You haven't seen the glorious GE-90 115Bs on the Boeing 777-300ERs....Majestic, especially when viewed in-flight when sitting close by to them..Really an in-flight entertainment in themselves.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Nearly empty Club world cabin, after take off

I don't get the idea of sitting and facing the person across from you....Hopefully those privacy screens remain up or is it high enough you don't see the person across from you

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Menu – note the Keralan veg curry – surprised to see an South Indian dish on a Chinese flight

Might have to do with the similarity of spicy food from the Szechuan Province.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Novice question - do airlines get to choose which engine they want to use, and do BA choose RR being British or are RR actually better than their GE counterpart?

I think airlines choose what they want with the 777-200ERs but with the 777-200LR and 777-300ERs it's only the GE-90s

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Expecting to see the smiling panda aircraft, it was not to be so. Our aircraft for today was G-YMMK, Built in 2000 and delivered to BA in Dec 2000. Interestingly, speaking to the crew, it seems that BA rotate that aircraft and not specific to Chengdu. In fact, during taxiing, we did notice the aircraft waiting for departure elsewhere, although I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture.

Very unfortunate not to be flying on the Panda aircraft....would have been so appropriate!!

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Is this normal – 43000 Feet?

Yes, the longer the duration of the flight, the higher the fuel burn allowing the aircraft to fly to an even higher altitude. Though your pic sequence do seem a bit out of place in this report.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
I like to move it ..Move it..

Hilarious!!
LAX772LR - "Answer to goofy question:" in response to my question about the B737-MAX8 being grounded. 48 hours later all B737-MAX8 grounded worldwide. Go figure!!
 
Baexecutive
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:38 pm

Great TR!

Glad you got to see prime FIRST, that crew member looks thrilled to see you as she slouched over the seat!

With loads like you described, it's a shame the crew didn't spend a little more time interacting with you but glad you enjoyed the hard product.
 
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AirAfreak
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:30 pm

Quoting baexecutive (Reply 2):

I noticed this, too! She is an eye-sore in this photo of the sophisticated and chic BA FIRST!!! Someone should photoshop her out and insert the famed, Singapore Girl!!! =]


And onto newbief1yer,

Thank you for a nice trip report with BA to CTU!!!

The food looks delicious and am very happy you had a nice dining experience on-air!!! My favorite is the Chengdu-style Chicken - I love Asian Cuisine and now I am reminded I am long overdue for dim sum!

I was disappointed with your lounge affair in CTU. Does KLM share this lounge with BA in Chengdu? The sofa chair looks dirty, but comfy. lol!!! How was the Thai Curry at the BA Lounge? I love Thai Curry dishes!!!

I really have to experience the BA Club World seat before I decided if I hate it or like it. It looks so cramped with 8 across and so uncomfortable to be facing another passenger - even if I know my seat mate, it's awkward. What are your thoughts as far as seat width? 2-4-2 is 2 seats, too many for long-haul J, in my opinion. I might as well fly an A330 in 2-4-2 in an Economy Comfort seat and purchase a "Japanese Delight" meal on an AMS-CTU flight for far less money than this Club World seat, I think. Again, I think. Don't hold me to this, but I am really really un-sure.

How was Chengdu? I quite like your photos of the beautiful scenery and the panda! How fun to see such beauty!!! The thought to visit Chengdu has not crossed my mind, but I would definitely go for the experience and to see something new!

Thank you and bon voyage!

Air Afreak =]
Korean Air | Excellence in Flight.
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:33 pm

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
Great to see this trip report on the new service to Chengdu

Thanks flightsimboy, we had a great trip too..

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
Is this normal for all flights?

Yes, from what i know, you need to pay if you wanted to reserve your seat, or else, it can only be chosen when checking in online, 24 hours before departure. Not sure for First class.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
You haven't seen the glorious GE-90 115Bs on the Boeing 777-300ERs

Ah, i think i have with 9W, but not up close.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
Hopefully those privacy screens remain up or is it high enough you don't see the person

The privacy screens are down during landing/take off. But otherwise, with the privacy screen on, it did feel cosy, very private.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
ight have to do with the similarity of spicy food from the Szechuan Provinc

Perhaps. But still odd to see a 'Keralan' (south indian state) dish.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
I think airlines choose what they want with the 777-200ERs but with the 777-200LR and 777-300ERs it's only the GE-90s

I see. good to know.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
Very unfortunate not to be flying on the Panda aircraf

Ah yes. My wife was saying that even few of the Chinese tourists along with us in the bus were grumbling that it wasn't the Panda aircraft.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
Yes, the longer the duration of the flight,

Ah, i used to thik that ~40000 was the usual limit, hence was surprised to see it at 43000.

Quoting baexecutive (Reply 2):
Great TR!

Thanks baexcecutive

Quoting baexecutive (Reply 2):
it's a shame the crew didn't spend a little more time interacting with you

Yes, i felt so too.
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:50 pm

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
I noticed this, too! She is an eye-sore in this photo of the sophisticated and chic BA FIRST

Ah yes. I only noticed this after i shot the photo. A bit hasty on my part.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
Thank you for a nice trip report with BA to CTU

My pleasure AirAfreak

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
Does KLM share this lounge with BA in Chengdu?

There are i think 3-4 such facilties - exactly same layout and similar rooms spread across the concourse. They open up each room as and when the other room overfills. Yes, KLM does share a similar room, if not the same room. There is only a special lounge for Air China and Star Alliance members - although it looked pretty similar, albeit with better sofas and slightly better food offering. As from my experience, CTU has a lot of scope for improving ground services and comparing it with the domestic terminal 2, this international terminal is a pale shadow of the newer terminal. I am sure there is plans for an upgrade of this terminal, but none that i know off. (more on the domestic terminal in my other trip report here

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
How was the Thai Curry at the BA Lounge?

It was tasty, although the ambiance in the lounge pulled it down for me by a few notch.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
really have to experience the BA Club World seat before I decided if I hate it or like it. It looks so cramped with 8 across and so uncomfortable to be facing another passenger - even if I know my seat mate, it's awkward. What are your thoughts as far as seat width? 2-4-2 is 2 seats, too many for long-haul J, in my opinion. I might as well fly an A330 in 2-4-2 in an Economy Comfort seat and purchase a "Japanese Delight" meal on an AMS-CTU flight for far less money than this Club World seat, I think. Again, I think. Don't hold me to this, but I am really really un-sure

If travelling alone, the window seat is great for privacy, and space/seat width wise, i felt perfectly fine, although i may not be the best judge of it as i am relatively small (5'7'', with a waist of 30"). If travelling as a couple, the center 2 seats are perfect. But then you need to be acrobatic if you need to get away from your seats. Once again, these are definitely marmite seats - you love it or hate it. Although not a big fan of marmite, i am perfectly fine with CW seats. But your idea of premium eco on KLM A330 also sounds like a good deal.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 3):
How was Chengdu? I quite like your photos of the beautiful scenery and the panda! How fun to see such beauty!!! The thought to visit Chengdu has not crossed my mind, but I would definitely go for the experience and to see something new!

Chengdu is grand. it has a great mix of the Chinese cuisines (i am a big fan of sichuan cuisine) and modern facilities. It is a great starting point to visit the rest of the province. The pandas are well worth it. The panda base is extremely well maintained, in comparison to the number of people who visit the site. The pandas look very well taken care off, bordering to being spoilt even. Yes, they are adorable and extremely fun to watch. got some videos here and here
 
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AirAfreak
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:37 pm

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 5):
Ah yes. I only noticed this after i shot the photo. A bit hasty on my part.

Oh no worries at all!!! It's humorous to catch the "real-ness" of the cabin crew. I can imagine a smile when all a cabin crew might want to do is yell and scream with their eyes bulging out and then the backdrop of thunder, rain, and lightning suddenly appears in the First Cabin. lol!!!!!!!

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 5):
There are i think 3-4 such facilties - exactly same layout and similar rooms spread across the concourse. They open up each room as and when the other room overfills. Yes, KLM does share a similar room, if not the same room. There is only a special lounge for Air China and Star Alliance members - although it looked pretty similar, albeit with better sofas and slightly better food offering. As from my experience, CTU has a lot of scope for improving ground services and comparing it with the domestic terminal 2, this international terminal is a pale shadow of the newer terminal. I am sure there is plans for an upgrade of this terminal, but none that i know off. (more on the domestic terminal in my other trip report here

At the very minimum, they should knock down a wall or two and re-decorate to give the illusion of space in such small quarters. I understand rent can be expensive, however, a joint-effort in one larger lounge should be sufficient instead of 3~4 lounges.

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 5):
If travelling alone, the window seat is great for privacy, and space/seat width wise, i felt perfectly fine, although i may not be the best judge of it as i am relatively small (5'7'', with a waist of 30"). If travelling as a couple, the center 2 seats are perfect. But then you need to be acrobatic if you need to get away from your seats. Once again, these are definitely marmite seats - you love it or hate it. Although not a big fan of marmite, i am perfectly fine with CW seats. But your idea of premium eco on KLM A330 also sounds like a good deal.

Good to know re window seat in Club World... I can have a real-"live" flight experience in my coffin!!! lol!!!!!! I am 6'2" wi/ 33 inch waist, but 44 across the chest so I am broad-shouldered and this is where my concern is raised. I will feel terribly uncomfortable if my shoulders should rest with a partition or wall during a long flight. Otherwise, a G&T will fix that!

Hmmm, yeast-extract in a jar... I don't want to knock it until I try it. So, when my future travels take me to the United Kingdom, or New Zealand, I will purchase this paste and see for myself! (I just did a look-up on wiki because I have never heard of or tried marmite.) But OK! I learned something new today!!!! Thanks!!! =]

Any idea on how KLM is doing on their AMS-CTU flight?

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 5):
Chengdu is grand. it has a great mix of the Chinese cuisines (i am a big fan of sichuan cuisine) and modern facilities. It is a great starting point to visit the rest of the province. The pandas are well worth it. The panda base is extremely well maintained, in comparison to the number of people who visit the site. The pandas look very well taken care off, bordering to being spoilt even. Yes, they are adorable and extremely fun to watch. got some videos here and here

I am going to order dinner tonight from my favorite Chinatown take-out here in Los Angeles... all this talk of Sichuan cuisine opened Pandora's Box of cravings! Anyhow, I really like hearing the pandas are well-taken care of. I am happy there is a sanctuary which is safe and comfortable for them. Very good to know and worth a visit!

Now, I am going to go through your videos and photos of CTU Domestic... knowledge is power!!! =]



Cheers!
Korean Air | Excellence in Flight.
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:03 pm

Hi newbief1yer,

What a nice and interesting trip report on BA's new route to Chengdu.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Menu – note the Keralan veg curry – surprised to see an South Indian dish on a Chinese flight

That was surprising to me, too

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
but choices were very good for a 10 hour flight. Good collection of recent movies.

Yes, I have found that BA has a very good film selection on their int'l flights

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
but just as any other Chinese cities these days, it was foggy, more like smoggy and raining.

Yeah, on several TR's I've noticed Chinese cities are always so smoggy.

Your pictures of the pandas and of Chengdu were great—it might be a place I'll visit someday. Thanks for sharing,
-Ytraveller
 
LondonCity
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:17 pm

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Nevertheless the load looked light and I later came to know that out of a total 250 odd capacity this 777 could carry, the flight had a total load of 80...! 0 in f, 12 in club, 8 in WT+ and 60 in WT. Not feeling very optimistic about this route.

With Chengdu, BA was rather late on the scene and it's allowed rivals to become established.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Note: liked the captains announcement welcome us to Chengdu, signing off by saying thank you for choosing BA, and not like we had any choice!   like the humorous touch.

But passengers do have a choice. Not from London, of course, but plenty of options via mainland Europe with flights departing from the UK regions.

Quoting newbief1yer (Thread starter):
Boarding was on time and although it was again, being in China, chaotic. There was no announcements made, and we just began standing in line and we were allowed to board! No priority queue for premium members, parents travelling with children, no announcements what so ever. Once again, in line with the poor ground service at Chengdu.

I would tell BA about such slackness. Its ground handling agent is falling down on the job.
 
toby25
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:53 am

My god i must have been sleeping! I knew that BA wanted to fly to CTU but had no idea that they already started! Hopefully the loads will pick up soon and they will start operating to other Chinese cities, like CAN. Did even know that they painted an aircraft with a panda!

Do you know if the passengers had connections in LHR or were majority terminating in LHR?

Thanks for an insightful TR
Toby
Seriously dude! I swear!
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:40 am

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 1):
Though your pic sequence do seem a bit out of place in this report

Yes I noticed it after you posted it, thanks for pointing it out.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 6):
At the very minimum, they should knock down a wall or two and re-decorate

Yes Agree. As I said, lots of scope for improvement, and I am sure within a year this airport will be unrecognizable.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 6):
Otherwise, a G&T will fix that!

That would fix a lot of things :P

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 6):
Any idea on how KLM is doing on their AMS-CTU flight
Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 6):
I am going to order dinner tonight from my favorite Chinatown take-out here in Los Angeles

No idea. They've been flying a combi version of the 747, is what I think. I am not even sure if its a daily flight or not. presumably, as I keep seeing the aircraft whenever I am at CTU.
and Hope you enjoyed your dinner.

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 7):
What a nice and interesting trip report on BA's new route
Quoting ytraveller (Reply 7):
Your pictures of the pandas and of Chengdu were great—it might be a place I'll visit someday. Thanks for sharing

Thanks for the comments ytraveller.

Quoting LondonCity (Reply 8):
With Chengdu, BA was rather late on the scene
Quoting LondonCity (Reply 8):
But passengers do have a choice. Not from London, of course
Quoting LondonCity (Reply 8):
I would tell BA about such slackness

Do you think so LondonCity. I think they were alright. before the start of this year, I think the only way to fly from mainland Europe into CTU was KLM, or any of the Chinese carriers and transit from main land china. This year, you have BA, Etihad and QR join the band wagon. I don't feel BA is late, I only feel its the wrong equipment. they will always struggle to fill a 777 in a 4 class config - that too with 12 new F.! The only way I see them fill those bad boys are Chinese senior officials on government trips, and that too I am not sure if they get any concession from BA, I guess not.
Yes I have passed on my comments to BA but no response yet.

Quoting toby25 (Reply 9):
My god i must have been sleeping! I knew that BA wanted to fly to CTU
Quoting toby25 (Reply 9):
Do you know if the passengers had connections in LHR or were majority terminating in LHR

Ha.!yup, the route commenced on September with a 3 weekly flight.
From what I could see, most of them terminating in LHR, but a few that had transits to European locations. I got to know this as most of them missed or nearly missed their connection due to the late arrival of the flight
 
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:59 am

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 10):
No idea. They've been flying a combi version of the 747, is what I think. I am not even sure if its a daily flight or not. presumably, as I keep seeing the aircraft whenever I am at CTU.
and Hope you enjoyed your dinner.

Cheers! Yes, I enjoyed my dinner - at In-N-Out Burger and then I decided this morning to run over to Chinatown for congee and dim sum for breakfast... It was a very satisfying last few days!!!  

I hope KLM and BA can both make money on this route, together!  
Korean Air | Excellence in Flight.
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Thu Nov 07, 2013 3:08 pm

Glad you enjoyed your meal

:D

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 11):
I hope KLM and BA can both make money on this route, together

I am confident with an aircraft change to a 787, BA should be able to do well on this route. perhaps a code share with some local Chinese airlines to help onward internal connectivity and also feed into this route to LHR, may help. I don't work in the airline industry, so not sure if this is feasible or not.
 
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Fly-K
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:31 am

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 4):
There is only a special lounge for Air China and Star Alliance members - although it looked pretty similar, albeit with better sofas and slightly better food offering

Not really, I had the pleasure to enjoy the CA lounge some weeks ago before the midnight departure to FRA. It really is very similar to what your picture of the BA lounge shows. BTW, boarding was chaotic too, but they managed to have a priority lane (and separate bus, as the A330 was surprisingly parked on a ramp position in the middle of the night in pouring rain...)

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 11):
I hope KLM and BA can both make money on this route, together!

Keep in my mind some Chinese secondary airports subsidize long-haul flights and I have the suspicion, BA's LHR-CTU service might be such a case.
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:18 am

Quoting Fly-K (Reply 13):
Not really, I had the pleasure to enjoy the CA lounge some weeks ago before the midnight departure to FRA

I see. Which airline were you flying with Fly-K?

Quoting Fly-K (Reply 13):
BA's LHR-CTU service might be such a case

I would not surprised if so. Simple maths tells me that both my flights were a loss making affair
 
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Fly-K
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Fri Nov 08, 2013 1:15 pm

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 14):
Which airline were you flying with Fly-K?

I was on CA FRA-CTU-FRA.

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 14):
Simple maths tells me that both my flights were a loss making affair

Interestingly, FRA-CTU was also rather empty (10 in C, maybe 50% LF in Y), while CTU-FRA was much better booked.
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Fri Nov 08, 2013 1:36 pm

Quoting Fly-K (Reply 15):
I was on CA FRA-CTU-FRA

Didn't know that CA fly from FRA to CTU. DO they code share with anyone? LH I presume. So technically its possible to book a LHR - CTU via FRA on LH and CA metal..?
 
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Fly-K
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:38 pm

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 16):
Didn't know that CA fly from FRA to CTU.

The route started only in June and is operated three times a week with A330-200. LH codeshares on it, so yes you should should be able to book a LHR-FRA-CTU on CA/LH.
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
 
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newbief1yer
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:35 pm

Quoting Fly-K (Reply 17):
The route started only in June and is operated three times a week with A330-200

I see. quite a few airlines jumping into the CTU-Europe band wagon this year. EK next.?
 
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Fly-K
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RE: Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World

Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:43 pm

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 18):
quite a few airlines jumping into the CTU-Europe band wagon this year. EK next.?

I'm not sure if they have traffic rights for further Chinese destinations. Unlike EY and especially QR, which go more into scope than scale, EK seems to focus on A380s to the main markets.
Meanwhile TK is eagerly pushing for rights to more Chinese cities as well.
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...

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