British Airways | Airbus A321 | LHR-CDG | Club Europe

This Trip

British Airways | Airbus A321 | LHR-CDG | Club Europe
Hilton, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Air France | Airbus A320 | CDG-ARN | Economy
Radisson Blu Waterfront, Stockholm
British Airways | Boeing 767 | ARN-LHR | Club Europe

Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Route: Heathrow – Paris de Gaulle
Flight number: BA322
Seat number: 1A
Cabin: Club Europe
Flight date: May 2016

Check In / Security

As is always the case with British Airways flights from Heathrow these days, I skipped the check in area as I was only travelling with hand baggage and I already had my boarding passes. From what I could see though, it wasn’t too busy considering this was the day before a long weekend.

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As the South security area didnt look too busy, I figured id head through there and my suspicions were correct. Despite it being a little busy, everything worked well enough and I was through in no more than five minutes.

Lounge

Up to the Galleries First lounge, and this would be my final visit to this one for a few months due to my BA Gold status expiring a few days after this trip. I was pleased to see a few positive improvements had been made to the catering since my last afternoon visit just over a month previously. This included a light bites area, consisting of cold cuts, cheese and other smaller snacks. Although the buffet still needs a bit of work when it comes to presentation.

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Gnocchi from the menu – this was very good

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The rest of the lounge has also had a mild refurbishment recently, including new furniture and deep cleaned floors (http://mediacentre.britishairways.com/pressrelease/details/86/2016-72/5903)

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Boarding / Onboard

Boarding was an hour and a half late – the reason being the age old excuse of a late inbound aircraft. It was done the correct way today, with Gold card holders and Club Europe customers invited to board first – and the fast track was being strictly enforced with everybody’s boarding passes being checked before people were permitted to enter. I saw a few people being sent away. Although due to seven rows of Club plus quite a few Gold card holders on this flight, there was still a bit of a wait.

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Row 1 on the A320 fleet is the place to be for legroom these days

Service

The service got going during pushback for this flight, with hot towels being handed out.

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Once airborne, it was a race against time to get the service completed on this full flight. As this was a band 1 flight, there was no choice of meal – just a chicken salad, which was decent enough, dished up at the same time as the drinks service.

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Followed with a Baileys.

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Arrival

We landed on probably the furthest runway from our parking stand – so ended up having to taxi for a good ten to fifteen minutes.

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As I was sat in row one however, I was the first off and was land side in just a matter of moments.

Conclusions

Despite the warnings of things being very busy on this day, I found that things weren’t too much different to a normal day, so top marks to Heathrow security staff for working efficiently there. The BA Galleries First lounge was once again a pleasant enough place to wait for a few hours, but I personally found the presentation of a buffet awful for what is supposed to be the airlines First Class lounge (although in reality, it’s a OneWorld Emerald lounge). Having said that, the food I ordered from the menu was great. Although menus were a little hard to come by, and as is seemingly common in this lounge, finding somebody to actually order the food was also a little difficult. On board, the crew did a great job serving everybody efficiently on this 45 minute flight. The food was tasty enough and there was a decent drinks selection.a

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British Airways | Airbus A319 | DUS-LHR | Euro Traveller

This Trip
British Airways | Airbus A319 | LHR-DUS | Euro Traveller
NH Koningsallee, Dusseldorf
British Airways | Airbus A319 | DUS-LHR | Euro Traveller

Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Route: Dusseldorf – Heathrow
Flight number: BA939
Seat number: 7A
Cabin: Euro Traveller
Flight date: May 2016

Check In / Security

As I had checked in via the app and already had my boarding pass, I didn’t bother with a visit to the check in desk.

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Instead, I made my way through security, where there was a fast track, and for the first time I was granted entry despite it being a self serve gate type entry. Security itself wasn’t particularly fast though, due to it being full of once a year flyers who had to be told everything at least four times and then still getting it wrong.

Lounge

Once upon a time, around four years ago British Airways had their own lounge in Dusseldorf. However this has long closed and instead the airline uses the third party Hugo Junkers lounge in concourse B. I have used this lounge previously when flying Air Berlin and was a little surprised to see that nothing al all had changed. Quite literally nothing! Even down to the sandwich fillings! Other than that, it still remains a decent enough place to wait – once you find yourself a seat.

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Somewhat uninspiring entrance

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Boarding / Onboard

Boarding was once again a different process. This time around, Club Europe, Gold and Silver passengers were given priority. On board, it was the now standard BA Airbus short haul cabin, with six rows of Club on todays flight.

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Service

Service was identical to the outbound flight, although one difference was that I was welcomed personally by the customer service manager (most likely due to my BA Gold status).

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Arrival

Arrival was made more than thirty minutes ahead of schedule and as such, it was a slow taxi over to the far side of Terminal 5A and on to a remote stand. One thing I noticed this time around that I hadn’t seen before was that there was a separate bus for Club Europe passengers. Although with the mass stampede to exit, I’m not entirely sure how easy it was for the crew to enforce.

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Conclusions

Once more, British Airways got the job done to a reasonable standard. The personal welcome is always appreciated (by myself at least) although I have noticed its only ever mixed fleet crews that deliver this. If there is one negative, it was the arrival on to the remote stand and having to be bussed to the terminal. I guess its more of a Heathrow issue than an airline one, but I can’t help but wonder if the terminal is over capacity somewhat, and if/when a third runway is built are things likely to get worse?

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NH Hotel Konigsallee, Dusseldorf

This Trip

British Airways | Airbus A319 | LHR-DUS | Euro Traveller
NH Hotel Konigsallee, Dusseldorf
British Airways | Airbus A319 | DUS-LHR | Euro Traveller

Stayed in: May 2016

Introduction

As a lot of the major players in Dusseldorf appeared to be a way out of town, I turned to another brand that I am a fan of, but don’t hold any status with, the NH. Convenient for the central station with a good enough location in the centre of town, it was also a decent price. The only downside being the very cheapest rooms were box rooms (something I’m not a fan of) and all the midrange rooms had sold out. However, the junior suites weren’t too outrageously priced, so I opted for one of those.

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Main Room

The room itself probably wasn’t that much bigger than a standard room at other hotels, however the layout was a little different, meaning that it had a spacious feel to it. Included was a kingsize bed, a small lounge area and a work area.

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Bathroom

The bathroom was a little small in comparison to the rest of the room, but was useable enough. It featured all the usual furniture and a bath/shower combo unit.

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Amenities

The usual amenities were present in the bathroom, along with a Nespresso machine in the room and a generously stocked minibar.

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In Conclusion

Not a bad hotel, with a good location in Dusseldorf. The plus sides were that the bed was extremely comfortable, it featured a good sitting area and everything was clean. The downsides however was that the curtains seemed a little small for the windows they were covering – meaning that they leaked a to of light in. And with a city centre location there was quite a lot of light in the area. Also of note was that the free wifi was shockingly slow. It wasn’t just in my room either, as it wasn’t much more usable in the lobby.

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British Airways | Airbus A319 | LHR-DUS | Euro Traveller

This Trip

British Airways | Airbus A319 | LHR-DUS | Euro Traveller
NH Hotel Konigsallee, Dusseldorf
British Airways | Airbus A319 | DUS-LHR | Euro Traveller

Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Route: London Heathrow – Dusseldorf
Flight number: BA938
Seat number: 22F
Cabin: Euro Traveller
Flight date: May 2016

Check In / Security

Unusually for a BA flight, I had to actually pay a visit to check in on this occasion. Due to the airline now charging everybody on a hand baggage only fare to choose a seat (including elites) or be dumped where ever they see fit, more often than not I seem to end up in an aisle seat.

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Normally I can pull a few strings to get my preference before hand, but this time I was unable to – so I had to resort to plan B. This was not collecting my boarding pass online and then visiting a Self Service machine and choosing for myself there, as the software in these hasn’t been updated. The downside of this approach however is that most people do tend to check in online and therefore most of the seats had gone. And this is what had happened here. Not to worry quite yet though as I had one more roll of the dice…

On to security, and as the South fast track looked a little busy (whats new…) I made a U turn and headed for the North fast track instead. This was a mixed bag. Much like on my last time using this one, I was through in a few seconds due to the fact it was deserted. However as a shift change appeared to be taking place, I then ended up waiting around ten minutes for my bag to appear. So in hindsight, by the time I’d made the walk to the Northern end of the terminal and then back again, I probably didn’t end up saving all that much time.

Lounge

Up to the lounge, and this is where I’d have my final roll of the dice to try and get a window seat. I asked the lounge agent and she could see from her computer that there were a couple of rows blocked off at the rear of the plane. A quick call upstairs and I was moved to 22F with the added bonus of 22D and E still being blocked – so likely to end up with the entire row to myself. Excellent result!

As I’ve reviewed this lounge previously (https://my-tripreport.com/2016/04/16/british-airways-airbus-a320-lhr-arn-club-europe/) I’ll only focus on the food on this occasion, which was the only real difference between the two visits. Despite the lounge serving somewhat questionable food during lunch and dinner, the breakfast options have always been generally good. There are a few menu options, plus an extensive buffet of hot items, fruit, pastries, cereal and porridge. The champange is the same throughout the day.

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I usually do a bit of a hybrid of the two and order a couple of poached eggs, then top up with buffet items.

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As my flight would be departing from the B gates, I had around ten minutes to visit the Galleries Club lounge in T5B. I’d not visited this one for a while, as more often than not there just isn’t time to get settled between arriving at the satellite and boarding beginning. This time was much the same – a few pics, a glass of water and then back down to the gate. As this lounge caters for pretty much everybody that is entitled to lounge access (BA Silver/Gold card holders, OneWorld Sapphire/Emerald card holders, Club World, Club Europe and First passengers) departing from T5B, it was unsurprisingly quite busy.

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The more basic Club lounge catering

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Boarding / Onboard

Due to my second lounge visit, I wasn’t actually at the gate when it was announced. Although I’m pretty sure I over heard the announcement and it was done the old way – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Club Europe all at once. Still amazes me that despite the new procedure being in place for the best part of a year now, there are still flights being boarded the old way – and on home turf too!

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Once on board, there were no surprises as far as the cabin went.

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One thing of note however was that mid way through boarding, a stray bag appeared in the cabin. Despite numerous announcements from the crew nobody claimed it and a good fifteen minutes later it was offloaded. Luckily it didn’t cause any more disruption than a couple of extra announcements being made.

Service

As Dusseldorf is a Band 1 British Airways route, due to the fact it has a scheduled sector time of 89 minutes and under, the service consisted of Lemon melt shortbread biscuits, crisps or nuts, plus a choice of drink from the bar. The service was a little different on this sector – a lone crew member came through the cabin with the snack baskets, followed by the other crew member with the drinks – I guess with just two of them on an hours flight, thats the method they have found works out the quickest.

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Arrival

Arrival was a few minutes late, most likely due to the hold up with the bag and a slow taxi at LHR. Due to Dusseldorf not being the biggest airport in the world, it still only took a few minutes to reach the station however to transit into the city.

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Conclusions

Yet another standard European hop from British Airways, where they provided an efficient enough service for a decent price. Sure, the on board catering is a little basic on these shorter runs, however if recent rumours of the airline charging for food from the autumn onwards are to be believed, then I’ll personally find it a bit of a shame.

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Alitalia | Airbus A321 | FCO-LHR | Economy

This Trip

Alitalia | Airbus A321 | LHR-FCO | Economy
Hilton Garden Inn, Rome Fiumicino
Alitalia | Airbus A319 | FCO-FLR | Economy
Hilton, Florence Metropole
Alitalia | Airbus A319 | FLR-FCO | Economy
Alitalia | Airbus A321 | FCO-LHR | Economy

Airline: Alitalia
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Route: Rome – London Heathrow
Flight number: AZ204
Seat number: 27A
Cabin: Economy
Flight date: May 2016

Picking up pretty much straight from my flight from Florence, it was a bit of a race to make it to the gate for my next flight on time for boarding. This is where Fiumicino lets itself down a bit – everything is a little bit too far apart, and it doesn’t seem all that well thought out. Seems as though despite there being plenty of gates, bus journeys are pretty frequent. Due to the rush, there wasn’t any time for a lounge visit as the one in the G gates still isn’t open (I’m sure it said 1st May on my last visit).

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Boarding / Onboard

Boarding started around ten minutes after I arrived at the gate, and for the first time on this trip, the agents went through the priority lane and sorted through who was supposed to be there and who wasn’t. Not that it mattered all that much, as once more it was on to a bus. What was more frustrating is that the bus pulled up a couple of planes down from the one that I had just disembarked…

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Service

Service on board this flight was a little slow to get going, but with a 2+ hour flying time, I guess there was no real need to rush. Once more, it was the pre-packaged sandwich along with a choice of soft drinks. One thing to note was that for the third time the sandwich was of a different variety – chicken and cheese this time. So a good deal for frequent flyers.

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Arrival

Unusually for Heathrow, there was no holding, meaning it was pretty much straight in. As we landed on 09L there was a little delay getting over to Terminal 4.

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Conclusions

The final of four flights with Alitalia on this trip and on all four occasions, flights were reasonably full the crew provided a decent enough service and the on board food on the two flights where I received it was tasty enough. The only issue was really Rome airport – where everything seemed to be miles away from everything. In future, I’ll definitely leave more than 90 minutes to connect when using this airport.

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Alitalia | Airbus A319 | FLR-FCO | Economy

This Trip

Alitalia | Airbus A321 | LHR-FCO | Economy
Hilton Garden Inn, Rome Fiumicino
Alitalia | Airbus A319 | FCO-FLR | Economy
Hilton, Florence Metropole
Alitalia | Airbus A319 | FLR-FCO | Economy

Airline: Alitalia
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Route: Florence – Rome
Flight number: AZ1678
Seat number: 18A
Cabin: Economy
Flight date: May 2016

Check In / Security

Check in was a little busy as I had arrived a little later than usual. There wasn’t a queue in the priority line however, and I was seen within a couple of minutes.

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Lounge

Alitalia don’t have their own lounge here – instead its just the one third party lounge, which caters for all. It was before security and not the greatest – small, dark and basic. It didn’t even offer Wifi – you had to use the airports, which was pretty slow.

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Boarding / Onboard

Boarding was made a little late, due to the inbound aircraft arriving a little late from Rome (although isn’t that always the excuse?). When it did get under way, it was done in what appeared to be typical Alitalia fashion – there was a priority line, but it wasn’t enforced in the slightest. Not that it really mattered anyway, as all flights are boarded by bus in Florence.

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On board, I was met with the standard Alitalia cabin.

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Service

Not an awful lot can be said about the service on this flight – mainly because there was none, except for a tray of wet wipes handed out. Seemed a bit of an odd thing to hand out, especially as there wasn’t anything else given out food or beverage wise.

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Arrival

Despite the late start, due to some nicely padded scheduling, arrival was made more or less on time. Having said that, we then ended up being put on to a bus gate, which in turn took an age to get over to the terminal. Not what I needed with a shortish connection…

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Conclusions

Not an awful lot to say about this part of the trip really, due to the thirty minute flying time and the almost complete lack of service on board, third party lounge and contract workers in Florence.

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Hilton, Florence Metropole

This Trip

Alitalia | Airbus A321 | LHR-FCO | Economy
Hilton Garden Inn, Rome Fiumicino
Alitalia | Airbus A319 | FCO-FLR | Economy
Hilton, Florence Metropole

Stayed in: May 2016

Introduction

When looking around for places to stay in Florence, somewhat surprisingly, the Hilton came out at the best price. Although that was more than likely due to the fact that it wasn’t exactly a city centre location. This was a non issue however, as they ran a free bus to the city.

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Check in went without a hitch – something that had been concerning me, as despite originally booking for two nights, I ended up only needing one due to my delay in Rome. It was confirmed that I’d been given an upgraded room also.

Main Room

The main room was on the 13th floor and whilst not seeming overly big, it was a little different to the standard. Most of the room was taken up with the bed, however it featured a pretty big work desk too.

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Bathroom

The bathroom featured a shower stall as well as the usual furniture.

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Amenities

Standard Hilton amenities in the bathroom, as well as a tea/coffee tray and a mini bar.

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Lounge

The lounge was on the top floor. it wasn’t the biggest by any stretch, however it did feature a pair of reasonably sized outdoor terraces.

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There were also snacks and drinks throughout the day.

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In Conclusion

A very good hotel for a reasonable price in what is an expensive city. Sure its a little far from the town – you cant reach it by foot, I was informed that public transport involved a few changes and the taxi I took cost around €20, but the free shuttle worked well. There is howver a cinema complex right next door with a couple of places to eat and a small park on the other side of the hotel which made for a pleasant enough evening walk. Its convienient for the airport, but as taxis are a flat rate of €20 from the airport to anywhere in the city, this isn’t so much of an issue.

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