Sun Air | Dornier 328 Jet | GOT-MAN | Euro Traveller

This Trip

British Airways | Airbus A320 | LHR-ARN | Club Europe
Clarion, Stockholm Arlanda
Qatar Airways | Boeing 787 | ARN-DOH | Business
The Airport Hotel, Doha
Qatar Airways | Airbus A350 | DOH-SIN | Business
Crowne Plaza, Singapore Changi
Cathay Pacific | Boeing 777-200 | SIN-HKG | Business
Cathay Pacific | Boeing 747-400 | HKG-HND | First Class
Hilton, Tokyo Odaiba
ANA | Boeing 787 | HND-ITM | Premium Class
Courtyard by Marriott, Osaka
Asiana | Airbus A330 | KIX-ICN | Business
Four Points by Sheraton, Seoul
EVA Air | Airbus A330 | ICN-TPE | Business
Novotel, Taipei Taoyuan Airport
EVA Air | Boeing 777-300ER | TPE-SIN | Business
Conrad Centennial, Singapore
Qatar Airways | Airbus A330 | SIN-DOH | Business
Doubletree by Hilton, Doha Old Town
Qatar Airways | Boeing 787 | DOH-ARN | Business
Radisson Blu, SkyCity, Stockholm Arlanda
SAS | Boeing 737-600 | ARN-GOT | SAS Plus
Sun Air | Dornier 328 Jet | GOT-MAN | Euro Traveller
Hilton, Manchester Airport
British Airways | Airbus A319 | MAN-LHR | UK Domestic

Airline: Sun Air
Aircraft: Dornier 328Jet
Route: Gothenburg – Manchester
Flight number: BA8233
Seat number: 2A
Cabin: Euro Traveller
Flight date: April 2016

Check In / Security

Check in opened around two hours prior to departure – which was a little annoying (but hardly surprising) as I had arrived from Stockholm a couple of hours previously. And theres not an awful lot to do landside at Gothenburg. When it did open, my bag was given a priority tag, which was a little surprising as BA don’t give their elites travelling in economy priority handling. Maybe those rules are different on Sun Air?

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There was a fast track available, however as BA rarely make it clear if you’re eligible to use it or not (despite it being a published OneWorld Emerald benefit) I used the normal lane, as it wasn’t too busy.


There are two lounges in Gothenburg – the SAS lounge, for all Star Alliance carriers and the Menzies lounge, catering for OneWorld and SkyTeam flights. As such, it was the Menzies lounge I used. It was a reasonable lounge, with plenty of light and a couple of secluded areas – which nobody seemed to be using, so I took advantage of that fact.




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The food options included a salad buffet and crisps/nuts etc.

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Boarding / Onboard

Boarding was more or less on time, but there was no priority boarding. With a maximum of 38 passengers though, it wasn’t really an issue.

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Legroom on this small jet (at the front at least) was pretty decent.


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Sun Air has a pretty good reputation for their on board service, and its very well deserved. In fact their motto is “not bigger, but better” and I’d have to agree with that. The service got underway with a drinks run, complete with snacks. On the mainline at this time, this would be all you’d get for the entire flight.

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However on Sun Air, this is followed up with a meal.

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Which is then followed up with an ice cream service.

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And finally tea or coffee.

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Previously, there was also a digestif run, but that didn’t happen on this flight.

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Arrival was made a little early. There was a short wait for the bags to appear and mine was around the tenth off. Despite it having its priority tag, there were others without that came out before however.

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Another fine run with Sun Air. The food on board was plentiful and tasty. Only minor issue was that the digestif run wasn’t completed, but that could have been done away with since my last flights with the airline back in February 2015.

Questions? Comments? Come and Say Hi on Twitter!

Look out for the YouTube video soon!

British Airways | Airbus A320 | LHR-ARN | Club Europe

This Trip

British Airways | Airbus A320 | LHR-ARN | Club Europe
Clarion, Stockholm Arlanda
Qatar Airways | Boeing 787 | ARN-DOH | Business
The Airport Hotel, Doha
Qatar Airways | Airbus A350 | DOH-SIN | Business
Crowne Plaza, Singapore Changi
Cathay Pacific | Boeing 777-200 | SIN-HKG | Business
Cathay Pacific | Boeing 747-400 | HKG-HND | First Class
Hilton, Tokyo Odaiba
ANA | Boeing 787 | HND-ITM | Premium Class
Courtyard by Marriott, Osaka
Asiana | Airbus A330 | KIX-ICN | Business
Four Points by Sheraton, Seoul
EVA Air | Airbus A330 | ICN-TPE | Business
Novotel, Taipei Taoyuan Airport
EVA Air | Boeing 777-300ER | TPE-SIN | Business
Conrad Centennial, Singapore
Qatar Airways | Airbus A330 | SIN-DOH | Business
Doubletree by Hilton, Doha Old Town
Qatar Airways | Boeing 787 | DOH-ARN | Business
Radisson Blu, SkyCity, Stockholm Arlanda
SAS | Boeing 737-600 | ARN-GOT | SAS Plus
Sun Air | Dornier 328 Jet | GOT-MAN | Euro Traveller
Hilton, Manchester Airport
British Airways | Airbus A319 | MAN-LHR | UK Domestic

Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Route: London Heathrow – Stockholm Arlanda
Flight number: BA784
Seat number: 1A
Cabin: Club Europe
Flight date: April 2016

Check In / Security

The standard British Airways Club check in at Heathrow really wasn’t anything special. Just a standard bunch of check in desks, with a sign next to them. Blink and you’ll miss it. Also due to the fact its available to BA Bronze, Silver, OneWorld Ruby, Sapphire, Club Europe and Club World passengers, it can get a little busy at times. Since my last time through T5, this appears to have changed. There is now an area thats separated by (some rather cheap looking) barriers.

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Due to my British Airways Gold status however, I was entitled to use the First check in area, at the far end of the terminal.

Fast track security at Heathrow is somewhat hit and miss. Some times you’re through in a couple of minutes, and other times the staff even tell you not to bother and use the standard lanes instead. This occasion I was through in around five minutes – pretty good going really. In fact the whole terminal was quite quiet.


As previously mentioned, I was able to skip the BA Galleries Club lounge and instead use the Galleries First lounge. I have mixed feelings about this one. Despite it being far from the best First Class lounge out there, I’ve visited so many times over the years it’s got a familiar, almost homely feel to it. The recent light refurbishment (new chairs, polished floors and new menus) have been a welcome addition.

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The food options are from either the buffet or menu. On this occasion, I visited the buffet.

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Boarding / Onboard

Todays gate was over in T5C – unusual, as most short haul flights depart from the main building rather than the satellites. Therefore a train journey was in order.

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Last August, British Airways announced new boarding procedures. Out was the previous Bronze, Silver, Gold, OneWorld Elite’s and Club Europe (plus First on flights where this cabin is operated) all in one go, the official line at least is: Club and BA Gold/ OneWorld Emerald first, then BA Silver/ OneWorld Sapphire, followed by BA Bronze (priority boarding isn’t a published benefit of OneWorld Ruby) and finally everybody else. In reality however any mixture of the above has happened on my many BA flights since August, including the “all aboard” – which caused a mass scrum. On this flight, It seemed to have been done correctly. I say seemed, because for once, there wasn’t a mass scrum so was therefore able to walk towards the podium without having to fight my way through the crowds.

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Once on board, I was given the typical friendly “good evening” as i boarded and I took my seat in the recently (between Summer 2014 and Spring 2015) refurbished cabin.

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The on board service started on the ground, with hot towels being handed out.

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Once airborne, the initial drinks run began, along with packets of nuts.

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The main meal service began not too long after. The choices were Cod with minted pea mash or a chicken caesar salad. The cod proved to be popular as it ran out pretty quickly. This was also my option.

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My dinner service finished with a Baileys… or two.

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Arrival into Stockholm Terminal 2 was made a little behind schedule. Due to the fact we were probably the last arrival for the evening, there was no queue at passport control. There was a bit of a wait at baggage claim however, but once the bags did arrive, mine was the fourth out and I was on my way to to the hotel for the night.


This was your standard British Airways flight really – friendly crew, tasty food and generally without any issues. It was good to see that the airline has made the Club check in experience at its home base a little more premium, and the fast track security is pretty decent when it works. The First lounge has seen some welcome improvements, however it does still get a little busy at peak times – I struggled to find a seat after I had eaten.

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Look out for the YouTube video soon!

LOT/Air Berlin/BA | B734/E175/Q400/A321 | LHR-WAW-KRK-TXL-LHR

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

This report starts out with a message I received from fellow a.netter gabrielchew whilst I was in Argentina, back in April. He mentioned that he’d found some great fares to Krakow with LOT over a weekend in June – just £85 in fact. Without much hesitation, I logged on to the LOT website and the flights were booked.

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I also splashed out an extra £19 to reserve seats, which is something new since I had last flown with the airline in December 2012.

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I guess it was a little pricey, however due to the low fares it didn’t make the final price too outrageous. Also the fact that it included seats for all four flights, meant it was still far better value than the £15 per sector that British Airways wanted to charge me for pre booking seats on a trip to Milan in August.

On to the day of departure. I did consider exploring the train, as I was still studying options to get to LHR that didn’t involve the coach but I figured as it would cost the same but take double the time I really wouldn’t gain all that much by doing so. So for the first time in a good few months, it was on to the coach.

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Upon arrival at T2, I attempted to use a kiosk to grab my boarding passes, however as I’d already checked in, it didn’t like it and I ended up having to join a queue instead.

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A few moments later, it was through a reasonably busy security, where I was singled out for a random search. Once that was done, I finally met up with Gabriel and we headed over to the very decent United Club for a couple of cocktails.

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After an hour or so in here, we moved over to the SQ lounge.

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Tasty food in here

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And the Suite style seats looked great

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The third stop of the day was the Air Canada Lounge.

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More cocktails – must admit this one wasn’t all that great.

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Again, great food selections

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The final stop of the tour was the LH lounge, which was back in T2A.

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After a good few hour lounging, it was time to board. Thanks for all the guesting in Gabriel – much appreciated. I’ll have to make the effort to get myself a Star Gold card…

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June 2015
Boeing 737-400 / SP-LLF
Seat: 21F / Economy
Scheduled: 17:50/21:20
Off Stand: 17:54
On Stand: 21:27

We made our way on to a very warm and retro cabin, along with a screaming child and some tight legroom.

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The cabin filled up reasonably quickly before the boarding complete announcement was given. There was a major downpour happening outside, and my initial suspicions were that this would reduce the flow in and out of the airport.

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The captain announced a flying time of two hours, but no delay so I guess we were lucky on this occasion. We pushed back a few moments later and made a slow journey over to 27R.

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Once we finally did get going, it wasn’t too long before we were into the cloud.

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But a few turns later we were out of it again and it appeared we were dodging a few of them.

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Before clearing them for good.

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The seatbelt sign went off and an announcement was made although I couldn’t understand a word of it.

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I stuck a couple of videos on my iPad shortly after.

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During which time, the BOB service was started – and there were quite a few takers. Once the sales service had been completed, the free service began – which was just water and a Prince Polo. Yet another cut back since I last flew with LO back in 2012.

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I stuck with the iPad until we were into our descent into Warsaw.

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We made a cloudy descent until touchdown.

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It was then off through passport control, through security and immediately into the lounge.

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Around thirty minutes before departure, we made our way down to the gate, where boarding started more or less straight away.

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June 2015
Embraer E175 / SP-LIF
Seat: 4A / Economy
Scheduled: 22:45/23:40
Off Stand: 22:36
On Stand: 23:20

I took my seat and very shortly afterwards, the boarding complete announce was given. There were quite a few spare seats around, which was a little odd as according to the seat map upon check in, most seats had been taken.

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The legroom on this one was slightly more generous.

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Flight time was announced as just 35 minutes.

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We pushed back and made our way over to the active.

Departure came, and as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, I ventured back to find Gabriel to see if he wanted to move to the spare seat next to me.

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Although as he had the whole of the final row to himself, I took 21D instead. The service was completed pretty quickly and then descent was well under way.

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I returned to my assigned seat just as we were passing downtown Kraków.

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Not too long later, we touched down, and then spun around on the runway to head off in the direction of the terminal.

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It was then on to a bus to make a very short drive over to the temporary looking terminal.

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Strange how this was classed as an international arrival

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A few seconds later, we were in a taxi heading for the city.

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I checked into my very different looking hotel room upon arrival

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Then took a walk with Gabriel across the square to his hotel before calling it a night.

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The next day, Gabriel made his way back to my hotel and we explored what the city had to offer.

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Including some local dancing, complete with noises that sounded like a car crash…

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Sheltering from the rain in the castle

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Local (ish) cuisine

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Once we were done in the city, we took the bus back to the airport.

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A lot of building work going on here – hence the W.I.P looking arrivals terminal.

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Upon arrival, we headed straight for a busy security as we both had a full set of boarding passes.

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Security was pretty strict – I ended up having to to put a completely empty bag through the scanner, and Gabriel ended up having to put a pocket full of tissues through the x-Ray as they were apparently setting off the metal detector. Hmm. Once this was done, it was over to the lounge, once more courtesy of Gabriel’s Star gold status.

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At pretty much the time boarding was due to begin, an announcement was made saying that our flight had been cancelled. So it was back through security and over to the LOT office.

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Easier said than done. After around two hours in the queue we were finally seen to. They said that there were no more flights this evening and they initially wanted to put us on LH via FRA or MUC the following afternoon. Instead though, Gabriel had found a routing with AB and BA via TXL in the morning and this was granted without too much fuss. It actually worked out in our favour as we ended up being booked into a pretty high booking class – therefore getting a pretty decent haul of BA Avios/Tier Points. If we had flown with LOT, we would have earned nothing due to it being in such a low booking class.

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It was then over to another queue to sort out a hotel. As the Hilton Garden Inn across the road was a very reasonable price, we decided to book ourselves into there instead – rather than have to wait around for them to make a reservation and then take a taxi. The whole process took around three hours.

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Dinner, courtesy of LOT. I ended up bringing most of it home with me though, as I wasn’t really up to eating anything.

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The next morning, it was back across the road to the terminal. Luckily this time, things were much quieter and we were in the lounge within ten minutes.

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We stayed here until boarding was announced.

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Despite our boarding passes saying that we had fast track, there wasn’t one available so we were at the back of a long queue, before heading down to a bus.

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June 2015
Embraer E195 / SP-
Seat: 8D / Economy
Scheduled: 17:55/18:45

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June 2015
Bombardier Q400 / D-ABQC
Seat: 17A / Economy
Scheduled: 10:50/12:00
Off Stand: 10:54
On Stand: 12:12

We made a slow drive over to the waiting plane and I took my seat – once I had booted Gabriel out of it…

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The flight deck announced a flying time of an hour and fifteen, before the engines were started and we made our way over to the active. The initially clear skies soon clouded over.

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The crew were a little slow getting the trolley out, therefore by the time I had been served, descent had started.

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In fact the rubbish wasn’t cleared until quite late into the descent. The weather wasn’t quite as good in Berlin, but there were a few views to be had on approach.

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We touched down and then took the scenic route over to the Air Berlin terminal – with most of the other passengers getting up and grabbing their bags along the way.

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Upon arrival, it was a short bus ride over to the terminal, before heading over to the main building.

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We then spent an hour or so on the terrace, where there were some quite interesting movements.

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I ended up taking extra time due to the fact I was singled out for an additional random check – this meant exiting the security area, and being taken to a separate room to have my electronics swabbed. A few moments later I was back at the gate area where boarding began a few moments later.

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June 2015
Airbus A321 / G-EUXL
Seat: 33F / Economy
Scheduled: 14:30/15:30
Off Stand: 14:41
On Stand: 15:49

I made my way on board and took my seat, which had the leftovers of the previous occupants lunch on it.

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The flight was unsurprisingly full – despite the complaints about BA lately, the “enhancements” are clearly working… And due to this the crew spent a while re arranging bags in the overhead lockers. The captain started his speech, and no doubt he mentioned the flying time, but my attention was drawn to a stroppy elder American woman in the wrong seat and refusing to budge. She eventually did, but made no secret of the fact she would be getting up “at least six times”. We pushed back and headed off into the housing estate for departure.

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On our way up, things got a bit bumpy, and we seemed to be in cloud for a lot longer than on this mornings flight.

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Also different to the mornings flight was the fact the crew started the service much quicker. It seems that the snacks have now been enhanced to UK domestic levels on a wider selection of European flights now, as on a flight to Frankfurt (which is nearer to London) a couple of weeks previously, I was offered a wrap.

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I relied on the iPad for my entertainment on this flight.

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Descent began, and the first officer announced that it was a little busy this afternoon, so therefore we had to slow down. But even so, we would still have to hold for fifteen minutes.

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We were treated to a great aerial tour of London – probably one of the best I’ve had, before touching down on to 27R.

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It was a slow journey over to T5B before pulling on to stand. Finally back in the UK – around 17 hours later than expected…

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It was the usual wait to leave before heading back over to the main terminal, and out to wait for the coach home.

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LOT – ugh. Battered old 737, uncomfortable seats, cancelled flight, poor planning when it came to rebooking and despite being told by two members of ground staff that the flight was cancelled for technical reasons, flat out refused to pay any EC261 compensation. At least they were cheap…

Air Berlin were consistent with my other flights with them. Decent enough service pretty good crew and no reason to complain. Although its a bit of shame they have to use that temporary terminal at TXL indefinitely.

British Airways – once more, not much can be said about them. Although its a shame the on board catering appears to have been enhanced once more.

British Airways / Air Berlin | A320/B737/A321/E170 | LHR-FRA/CGN-TXL-ZRH-LCY

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

For the last couple of years or so, I’d been aware of Air Berlin offering some semi decent fares from Cologne to London with a couple of stops thrown in for good measure. Although I hadn’t got around to booking the flights remained on the radar.

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Fast forward to early 2015 and I finally got around to booking the trip I’d been researching for the previous couple of years.

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As usual on Air Berlin, they only offer free seat selection to their own frequent flyers.

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And as usual, one of the other OneWorld members was able to rectify this.

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Next up was a way to Cologne. I had planned on taking Germanwings on a direct flight from LHR, as prices were around the £40 mark. Annoyingly though, when I came to book the prices had gone up to over £110. So instead I looked to British Airways. They don’t actually fly to Cologne, but flights to Frankfurt more reasonable – still four pounds more, but at least I’d be able to get some dinner in the lounge.

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Seat selection wasn’t an issue on this flight – at least when I booked.

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Yet another no so special offer. They used to be reasonable at under £100 but now they just seem to be the same price as you’d pay for Club anyway.

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To link Frankfurt and Cologne I’d turn to the DB. I’d wanted to try the ICE train so this seemed like a good enough excuse. I’d also wanted to visit the viewing deck at FRA for a few years (on all of my previous visits, it had been closed) so I was ticking more than a few things off on this trip.

As mentioned at the beginning of my South America series, I was exploring options other than the National Express coach to get me to Heathrow. This time I figured I’d try out the hourly bus service – it took over an hour and a half, but cost a fraction of the coach – so you get what you pay for I guess.

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Upon arrival, I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass and took a look at the fast track security. It looks more than a little busy from what I could see, so I made my way through the regular security instead. And I was through in about two minutes. So as I’ve suspected, the fast track isn’t quite that fast.

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I made my way up to the lounge for a tasty dinner of macaroni cheese.

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After this, I headed out to my favourite spot on the terrace and grabbed some juice.

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But no sooner as I’d say down, I was being told to make the trek over to the C gates – typical, as just a few weeks after they stopped giving you £15 at Starbucks, I get my first departure from T5C in nearly three years. No big deal though as I wasn’t all that hungry anyway.

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I made a couple of laps of the satellite to see what was around.

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Upon returning to the gate, I saw a massive queue so figured it would be a good idea to join it. Boarding started a few moments later and I was welcomed by name and asked how I was by a friendly ground agent.

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May 2015
Airbus A320 / G-EUYB
Seat: 19F / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 19:35/22:10
Off Stand: 19:37
On Stand: 22:17

I took my seat, immediately followed by my two seat mates. The flight looked completely full.

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As boarding was finally completed, the captain gave the usual welcome speech and announced a flying time if an hour and ten minutes. We pushed back a minute or two behind schedule and made a rough ride over to 27R. Once there, we had to wait for a string of heavies to depart before it was finally our turn.

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The crew handed out the snack and drinks whilst I watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm on my iPad.

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With around forty minutes to go, the first officer announced we had started descent. Seemed a little early to me, but I guess he knows more than I do on the subject. Meanwhile, the sun was setting behind us.

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We descended through the clouds and the light faded completely.

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It was then a great view of downtown Frankfurt before making reasonable contact with one of Frankfurt’s older runways.

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Then came a lengthy taxi over to a remote stand where we arrived a little later than scheduled.

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After a further ten minutes or so I made my way towards the rear exit and down the steps.

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A bus tour followed before heading over to the Hilton for the evening.

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The next morning, I paid a visit to the viewing deck.

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Very pleased to see this one

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Before heading off to catch my train to Cologne, after some essential shopping and lunch.

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As my train was delayed by around thirty minutes, I headed downstairs to the lounge. Hardly a patch on any airline lounge, but it was better than a platform.

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Finally on the train to Cologne:

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A few pictures from my time in Cologne. Pretty much as soon as you exit the station, you’re faced with the massive cathedral.

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Walking along the river

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Paying a visit to the chocolate museum

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Out at the cathedral once more

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And my room at the Hilton, just a few steps away.

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As usual, the best pictures come after dark

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When it was time to leave, I made my way across to the station, where most trains appeared to be delayed. I jumped on one that said it was going to the airport, only for an announcement to be made after a few stops that I had to change to an S13 train. So I hopped off, only to find that was an S13. By the time I’d realised the train was leaving – so no option but to wait thirty minutes for the next one at a pretty remote station…

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Upon finally reaching the airport, it was up to check in to grab a boarding pass. The agent didn’t say an awful lot, bit did do quite a bit of typing – eventually handing me one boarding pass for all three flights.

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I then made my way through security, where for the first time ever I was told that my camera would also have to be screened separately. New rules apparently… Following this was a few steps to the Air Berlin exclusive waiting area – not quite a lounge but not quite the general waiting area either.

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At around 10:00 this mornings ride pulled in. I was glad to see it was still the scheduled 737-700 as this is a new sub type for me. And also a new operator as this one is operated by TUI fly.

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Boarding was announced, and I was the first on board – due to the fact there wasn’t a mass charge towards the gate. It was actually very civilised with everybody waiting their turn!

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May 2015
Boeing 737-700 / D-AHXF
Seat: 18F / Economy
Scheduled: 11:05/12:10
Off Stand: 11:21
On Stand: 12:31

As I boarded, the cabin crew offered me a form to sign up to their Top Bonus program – but I didn’t see much point in taking one.

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The cabin filled up very slowly but the flight seemed pretty full. The captain gave his welcome speech and mentioned that we were still waiting for some more passengers – shortly followed by an announcement saying their bags were now being offloaded.

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As it turned out, one of the very few empty seats was next to me so I was fairly comfortable.

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We finally did push back around fifteen minutes behind schedule, and then made a long taxi over to the runway – passing quite a few cargo jets along the way.

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Luckily we were given an intersection departure so we didn’t have to go quite down to the end if the runway before departing.

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It wasn’t too long before we were into the clouds and the view disappeared.

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Service on this sector was more or less the same as what was handed out in my first AB flights back in 2013 – something “sweet or salty”.

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Descent started as the clouds cleared- meaning there were good views of the area on approach.

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On short finals, a gust of wind caught us, putting us somewhat off balance and leading to a very hard landing – possibly the hardest I’ve experienced.

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It was then a brief taxi over to the terminal – and I was glad to see that we were arriving at the main terminal as opposed to the shed that I experienced last time I flew into TXL in AB. The AB chocolate hearts were handed out upon leaving.

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As I’d arrived in terminal A, it was a short walk to the BA lounge, I did consider heading up to the viewing deck as it was such a nice day, but I figured as I’d been there but not visited the lounge here I’d go for the unknown option.

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It was a little on the busy side, but luckily I spotted a side room with nobody in it. So grabbed a plate of food and set up camp there for the next hour or so.

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When boarding was near I headed down to the gate. Despite there being a fast track, the layout meant that I’d probably upset a few people by using it – so I didn’t bother.

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The hold up didn’t matter anyway, as pretty much as I cleared security the ground crew announced a forty five minute delay. So I headed up to the Exclusive waiting area, as the gate area was packed.

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This time there was an airport security guard manning it and he demanded to see my card. I handed my BA card over and he was a little dubious. I mentioned that it’s all OneWorld so it shouldn’t matter, and he consulted a chart that was sellotaped to a post. A few moments later he let me pass through. It was a little bigger than the Cologne version but the offerings were still the same.

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A few moments later, an A321 pulled on to stand and an announcement was made saying boarding would begin as soon as the passengers on board had left.

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Boarding began, and once more I was the first on board. Although I was stopped in my tracks once I reached the aircraft do as they hadn’t quite finished hoovering.

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May 2015
Airbus A321 / D-ABCF
Seat: 29F / Economy
Scheduled: 14:15/15:40
Off Stand: 14:59
On Stand: 16:14

As boarding was completed, I once more ended up having the middle seat free despite it being a reasonably full flight.

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The captain welcomed everybody and apologised for the delay, blaming the late inbound arrival of the aircraft and the fact that he was a little late himself arriving from Düsseldorf. He did mention a shorter than usual flying time though of just fifty minutes so we weren’t due to arrive too late. Lucky as I was meeting somebody in ZRH…

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A flight I’d unexpectedly end up on a few weeks later

We pushed back and sped over to the active.

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Upon reaching the runway, the captain could hardly contain his enthusiasm as the throttles were advancing as we were pulling on to the runway.

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Unlike this mornings flight, it was clear skies throughout.

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The crew started the service and this time they elaborated a little more on the “sweet or salty” line – introducing the snacks as a chocolate or potato chips.

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Once this was done, there wasn’t too much flying time left – so I relied on Tom & Jerry on the overhead for entertainment.

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We made a cloudy approach to Zurich before touching down a little softer than earlier.

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A brief taxi to the B pier followed where I was met by Infodesk.

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We spent the next hour or so chatting before she headed off home after a day at work and I ventured up to check out the OneWorld lounge.

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I wasn’t planning on eating anything as I’d spent most of the day eating and drinking it seemed, but I had a hard job turning down the pasta.

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After around thirty minutes I headed to the gate, which was down in the basement area.

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There initially seemed to be quite a few people waiting around, but only once the LHR flight started boarding from the adjacent gate did quite a few people disappear.

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General boarding began – no priority boarding here, unlike on the LHR flight.

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May 2015
Embraer E170 / G-LCYG
Seat: 16D / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 18:20/18:55
Off Stand: 18:26
On Stand: 19:00

I was somewhat half heartedly greeted at the door and I made my way towards the rear to take my seat.

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One thing I don’t like about the BA E-Jet is the misaligned windows

Boarding was completed pretty quickly and it turned out this flight was pretty empty.

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I decided to take a look at the inflight mag, but it appeared a dog had beaten me to it…

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The flight deck gave their usual welcome although I couldn’t understand most of what was being said due to the poor sound quality of the speakers. I did make out the fact he was apologising for the delay though. What delay?

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We pushed back before the LHR flight and made a very slow taxi over to the active.

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Luckily, takeoff wasn’t quite as slow and we were off the ground within a few seconds.

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Not too long after departure, the on board service began. There were no less than four options to choose from – a salmon salad, a pasta salad plus the crisps and biscuits found on the BA mainline domestic runs. I chose the pasta salad.

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This was followed by the drinks run, where I chose a G&T.

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With an episode of Family Guy for entertainment.

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Nice low load this evening.

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Not too long after it finished I felt the nose dip, so I figured we had started descent – so I ought to start paying attention again.

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The captain came over the PA and mentioned that it was a pleasant evening in London, but from where I was sat, I wasn’t in agreement.

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Descent continued until the rollercoaster ride began.

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We touched down and pulled almost immediately on to stand.

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Disembarking was delayed by around ten minutes due to the LX RJ100 next door starting up. When we were finally released, it took around five minutes from plane to the DLR station – aided by the fact LCY have installed E-Passport gates since my last arrival in December 2013.

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British Airways: Standard. Nothing more to be said.

Air Berlin again offered a couple of pretty decent flights. It was a bit of a shame that they were both delayed but it didn’t cause any issues. The crew were friendly and the exclusive waiting areas were a good idea for an airline that doesn’t offer a business class product in Europe.

BA Cityflyer continue to show their bigger brother how it should be done, with a range of small but tasty on board catering choices – and can they really cost that much more than the pre packaged sandwiches found on board the main line?

Air Nostrum / British Airways | CR9/A321 | MAD-TLS-LHR

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Thanks for taking a look at my latest report, which will feature the final two sectors home from South America in April 2015.

After arrival into Madrid, somewhat of a disaster struck. I developed a bit of a stomach ache, but I figured I was just feeling the effects of the long overnight flight from Colombia. I took a walk around the block but wasn’t feeling any better so I surrendered to my room for the evening. Luckily the weather wasn’t great, so I didn’t miss too much.

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I’ll spare you the gory details, but lets just say I didn’t get much sleep that evening and I was having serious doubts as to whether I’d be fit enough to fly the following afternoon. Luckily, after waking up reasonably late I was feeling a bit better, although still not 100%. Again, a walk around the block to blow the cobwebs out and to pop to the shop to rehydrate seemed to do the trick.

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I left it until the last possible moment to check out of my hotel and to make my way back to the airport, once more on the train.

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I ventured over to the check in desk to dump my bag but was told that I could only get one boarding pass for some reason – despite being able to check my bag through to London.

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It was then the fast track security, which unlike at LHR was actually fast – despite a rather rude agent barking orders at me and snatching my liquids/iPad etc off me and throwing them in a tray.

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After this, it was pretty much straight into the lounge. Unfortunately, due to my flight leaving from T4 rather than T4S, I was only able to use the more basic lounge – but it’s still pretty good.

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Only the basics for me today.

Feeling like I could do with a walk, I headed over to the gate a little earlier than needed. I was hoping the aircraft change was just an aircraft change – and not a change of type, having only logged one CRJ previously.

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Unfortunately though, I was out of luck as an A320 arrived on to stand around fifteen minutes later.

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Although my disappointment was short lived however, as no sooner had the A320’s doors opened, boarding was called – although it was a bit if a free for all, despite there being a separate fast track. I made my way along the jet bridge, down the stairs and was glad to see a CRJ hiding around the corner.

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April 2015
Bombardier CRJ900/ EC-JTT
Seat: 22A / Economy
Scheduled: 14:55/16:20
Off Stand: 15:23
On Stand: 16:41

I was welcomed at the door, and then again half way along the aisle, where I was shown to my seat by the crew member.

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I found the legroom on this one pretty good.

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Boarding was completed, and the flight appeared to be completely full.

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A few moments later, the crew announced in very broken English that due to heavy ground traffic, we would have a twenty minute delay. But didn’t mention whether it was twenty minutes after our original departure time, or on top of the delay we already had. The captain elaborated a bit further and said we would be another ten minutes due to MAD being down to single runway ops. He also gave a flight time of 50 minutes. We finally pushed back and made the long taxi over to the runway.

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Something familiar

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Once there, we ended up in a bit of a queue.

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We finally lifted off into some initially clear skies, which then turned quite bumpy. Bizarrely, it was at this moment when the captain decided to turn the seat belt sign off.

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Once we had reached cruising altitude the crew came around and offered the buy on board service- although I didn’t see any takers. After that, the crew were nowhere to be seen.

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I spent the remainder of the flight snoozing until I felt the nose drop and the engines spooled back.

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There was a good view of the Airbus factory as we landed.

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Then made our way over to the stand.

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Annoyingly, the guy next to me was more interested in sending a text than leaving so I was held up somewhat – to the point that by the time I’d put my bits away,I’m was the last off.

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As it turns out, there isn’t an airside connection in TLS – so it was out into the open, off to a check in desk to grab a boarding pass and then back through security.

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There was a fast track, but it was the type where you got to jump the queue rather than a separate lane. I was still through in a few minutes though.

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In the duty free shop, there was a pretty good selection of Airbus merchandise.

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I then headed up to the lounge. It was small, very crowded and not very well stocked.

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I literally grabbed a hand full of chocolates, a couple of bottles of water and then went to the gate, as the FID’s were showing last call anyway – despite the fact is just seen tonight’s ride land.

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Upon reaching the gate, the “me first” brigade were already forming a massive queue. Boarding began, and despite there being an announcement that fast track would be enforced, it wasn’t. This led to a stroppy guy behind me saying that I’ve got 35A on my boarding pass, therefore I’m in the wrong queue. I simply replied “It also says gold, so I AM in the correct queue”.

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As it turns out, the plane wasn’t quite ready so it was then a case of waiting around for ten minutes or so on the jet bridge.

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April 2015
Airbus A321 / G-EUXI
Seat: 35A / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 17:50/18:40
Off Stand: 18:16
On Stand: 18:58

Once on board, I headed to the last row. The reduced legroom of these newly configured jets is very noticeable back here.

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The Dutch first officer announced a flying time of 1h23, apologised for the delay and thanked everybody for turning up on time. The flight didn’t seem all that full – in fact I was the only person in the last five rows. Meaning the last row trick worked once more.

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A few moments later, one of the crew members appeared and welcomed me by name – and asked if there was anything I needed. I said I was fine as I had plenty of room to spread out. Much better delivery than experienced in part 1 of this series. After being sat with seemingly nothing going on for a good fifteen minutes, the captain came over the PA and apologised for the hold up. He said that the ground crew had opened up three different holds now, but wouldn’t say what they were doing or why. That would explain all the banging around I could feel underneath me then. We finally did push back around 25 minutes behind schedule, and made a slow taxi out.

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Upon arrival, we had to wait for an A350 to depart before we made our way into some very bumpy skies.

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A few moments later the on board service started. The same crew member that welcomed me earlier, again addressed me by name and brought me a double sprite and a wrap – which also seems to have been enhanced – there used to be twice as much.

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My entertainment for this sector was Family Guy on the iPad.

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Around halfway through the flight, I noticed the captain appear in the cabin. No idea why, but a fairly major point to note was that (as far as I could see from right at the back) when he re entered the flight deck, I didn’t notice any other crew members come out. So I’m guessing BA haven’t implemented any policy regarding two people on the flight deck at all times.

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Soon after, descent was upon us.

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It was pretty cloudy in the London area, so not too much to be seen until we were quite low.

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We then spun around on to finals for 27R.

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We made a very smooth touchdown and then made quite a long rollout before hitting the brakes reasonably hard and exiting to the left.

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Almost immediately we turned off the runway and on to a remote stand. I’ve noticed this with quite a few BA arrivals into LHR now – where they slow the plane down initially before rolling down the length of the runway and taking one of the last exits next to T5.

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As we ended up being shoved on to a remote stand next to the fuel farm, this meant everybody had to be bussed over to T5A. And there was just the one bus waiting. As I was at the back, this meant a good twenty minute wait. The ever attentive crew member and I had a chat about where he was off to next and how far I had to go home. Once it was finally time to leave I bid him farewell and and made my way on to the Tarmac – along side an A380 that was just starting up.

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Upon arriving at T5A, I was amazed to see nobody at passport control at all – so I was able to walk straight up to an E gate and pass through pretty much with no wait.

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I made a brief stop to change up my remaining South American currency into GBP before heading down to baggage claim.

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Again, there was no wait at all there, as it had taken such a long time for me to make my way over to the main terminal, all the bags from the flight had been delivered and my bag had been taken off the carousel and was sat waiting for me.

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It was then outside for the coach home – where luckily I didn’t have to buy a ticket, as I still had an unused return portion from a few weeks previously due to a flight from BIO being delayed and missing the last coach home.

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And so brings an end to this series.

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Iberia/Air Nostrom were pretty forgettable really. I can’t really think of too much to say about them at all. The flight was a little delayed, the crew did what they had to and no more and that’s that really.

British Airways on the other hand continued to prove that on a good day they can be really excellent. And it’s all down to the crew. The crew member couldn’t do enough for me and really made me feel like a valued customer. I made a point of sending one of my golden tickets his way after the flight.

What’s next from me?

May will see me head around Germany, again on British Airways with some flights with AB and linked together with the ICE train.

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Following on in June with a trip to Poland with a fellow a.netter

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Then in July, a tour of the UK.

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And finally in September I’ll be heading to the Far East with Emirates.

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British Airways | Boeing 747-400 | LHR-GRU | First

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Hi there – thanks for checking out another series of mine. This time, I’ll be heading down to South America. The series will be split over six parts, covering the following flights:

LHR-GRU British Airways 747, First
CGH-SDU TAM A319, Economy
GIG-EZE Emirates 777-200LR, Economy
EZE-LIM TACA A320, Business
LIM-BOG TACA A321, Business
BOG-MDE Avianca A320, Business
MDE-MAD Avianca A330, Business
MAD-TLS Air Nostrum CRJ-900, Economy
TLS-LHR British Airways A321, Euro Traveller

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This first part will focus on my flight to Sao Paulo with British Airways.

For most of 2014 I had been hoarding BA Avios. By around November time, I had enough for a one way ticket in their First Class cabin to pretty much anywhere on their network. As such, to get the best value, I wanted to take the longest flight possible. The most obvious choice was SIN/SYD – but having done this last year, it didn’t really appeal all that much. Next up was their longest single flight to Buenos Aires. This wouldn’t work either though as the airline only operates three class aircraft there – so no First Class. Next up was Brazil. I had a choice of either Rio or Sao Paulo. Rio was the preferred destination, however due to the fact the Sao Paulo flight left the UK at 22:00 meant I could fly on the Friday evening after work rather than on the Saturday lunchtime. Also the fact that the flight to GRU was operated by the 747 (as opposed to the 777 that flew to GIG) pretty much sealed the deal. Of course there were the taxes to consider – £361. So a pretty good deal in my book.

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A nice £8377 saving I made there

Upon booking, I was glad to see that I had been pre assigned seat 1A – so no need to change anything there.

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Thirty days prior to departure, I was able to pre select my main meal. I was tempted by the beef but I figured I nearly always ended up having that when I fly – so chose the sausage and mash instead.

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On to the day of departure then. As my usual mode of transport to Heathrow, the National Express coach, had become increasingly unreliable over the previous months (leaving earlier than scheduled, leaving later than scheduled – and don’t mention the time the driver refused to sell me a ticket before driving off…) I decided to take a taxi to the airport instead.

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After battling through the Friday evening traffic on the M25, I first took a brief look at the departures from 09R before I made my way over to the BA First check in area where I was greeted, asked where I was flying to and escorted to a free desk where I was then handed over to the check in agent, where we shared a bit of a laugh over the fancy naming of my onboard meal selection.

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Once processed, I headed through the fast track security. Once through, rather than turn left through the shopping centre to make my way around the houses to the lounge complex, I was able to turn immediately right and pass through the so called “Millionaires doorway” into the Concorde room for the first time – and completing the set of BA lounges that I’ve visited at LHR. One thing that I noted almost immediately was that they made boarding announcements here – something they don’t do at the other lounges.

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First stop was the Concorde dining area where I ordered a club sandwich and a very tasty treacle tart for dessert all washed down with some Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle – probably double the price of what they serve in the F lounge but admittedly I didn’t notice all that much difference.

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I couldn’t help but feel that this lounge was a little small. When I first arrived there were no seats to be had inside so had to make do with the pretty tightly packed terrace area. Following that I spent the remainder of my time at the bar. I’m guessing the idea is for F pax to eat in the CCR then head over to the F lounge if they want to relax.

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Mojito or two at the bar

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Also of note was that none of the drinks were self serve. Everything had to be ordered at the bar – including the crisps and snacks that you can help yourself to in the J/F lounge. The same went for the coffee. Although the plus side of this arrangement was that presentation was improved.

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Panorama of virtually all of the lounge – entrance from the right, terrace to the left and dining area ahead.

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At around 20:40, gate B35 was announced. Rather than take the train, which hadn’t turned up yet and looked like it would be a bit busy, I decided to make the walk across – which is now advertised quite well.

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Upon reaching the gate, I was pleased to see G-CIVM on stand – my very first OneWorld logo jet.

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A few moments later, boarding commenced. Once more the fast track wasn’t policed at all – I noticed the person ahead of me in the queue had no status on her BP and was sat in Word Traveller. I was third on board and was shown to my seat by the purser.

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April 2015
Boeing 747-436 / G-CIVM
Seat: 1A / First
Scheduled: 21:50/05:20
Off Stand: 22:01
On Stand: 05:03

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Seat 1A – my home for the next 11 hours or so.

Almost immediately I was met by a very friendly crew member who introduced herself and was offered some champagne and water. As I was “caught” taking a picture, I apologised for getting in the way mentioned that this was my first time – she offered to take my picture in my seat, then said it’s a great experience and went to grab my drinks. The cabin filled up pretty quickly. There were quite a few seats taken but not completely full. A few moments later, my drinks turned up, followed by pyjamas and an amenity kit.

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Pretty standard kit contents.

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And a few moments after that, a hot towel – the same rags that are dished out across all the premium cabins, followed by tonights menu (I only snapped the first page, due to being interrupted by the safety briefing and then pushback). I was also asked when I’d like to eat – I wasn’t too bothered so just said I’d eat whenever was easiest for them. Of note was that the crew member stood at the front of the cabin was engaged in chat with the guy in 1K throughout the safety briefing. Fair enough engaging the customer but surely they should be encouraging them to pay attention rather than distract them?

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The captain came over the PA and announced a pretty quick flying time of 10h45 and that we were still waiting for a few more pax to turn up. We eventually pushed back around 10 mins behind schedule.

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We made a reasonably quick taxi out to 09R and then made a quiet takeoff behind a CX cargo 747-8F.

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Shortly after departure, landing cards were handed out by the purser. He welcomed me by name, checked his iPad and said there was a message from the executive club for me – “oh, nothing too important, just to welcome you on board sir”. Zero points for the delivery there….

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Shortly after departure, a G&T that I’d ordered on the ground turned up, along with some very tasty warmed nuts.

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Settling in for the night ahead.

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Seat, light and window blind controls.

Around thirty minutes later, one of the two crew members looking after the First cabin appeared again – “would you like me to set your table for you now sir?”

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And a few moments later, dinner was served. I skipped the starter and went straight for my pre ordered meal. Very good it was too.

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Followed by dessert.

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And to finish, chocolates – and I think I must point out, that the whole box wasn’t just for me!

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Following dinner, it was getting on for midnight UK time, and I had been up for work earlier in the day, so time to settle down for the evening. I ventured off to change into my pyjamas, and have my bed made up.

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I climbed into the very soft sheets and settled down, although it was a good hour or two before I drifted off – it was a little warm on board and the guy in 1K was snoring very loudly. My noise cancelling headphones took care of the worst of it though. Still, not the most comfortable way to sleep.

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I awoke with around two and a half hours to go. I freshened up and ordered some tea. By this time the rest of the cabin was starting to wake up too.

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Breakfast was served shortly after. There were a good few courses, but I only elected to take the main, washing it down with a cappucino

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During which I took a look at the IFE for the first time. Due to the 747’s having an older system there wasn’t a huge amount of choice – so went with a Top Gear special.

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After this, there wasn’t too much time left until descent. The captain came over the PA and said we had made up time and should be landing at 04:55 local time. I went to the washroom to get changed and my bed was then put back into seat mode.

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Mood lighting set to morning mode.

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Another round of hot towels were handed out a few moments later.

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Descent began in the darkness – predictably, there wasn’t too much to be seen until the lights of the city became quite close to us and I was able to feel the nose gear being extended.

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We touched down at 5 AM and made the taxi over to terminal 3, pulling in alongside a LH 748

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Upon arrival the Club section was held back until everybody in F had left.

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I followed the signs to a packed passport control where luckily, most seemed to head for the residents line – meaning I was stamped into Brazil by a very sleepy (and somewhat disinterested) immigration official in around ten minutes or so.

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What a boring passport stamp!

I didn’t have to wait too long for my bag (maybe 5 minutes at the absolute most) and I then ventured out to find a bus to the city through possibly the biggest and most confusing arrivals duty free store I’ve ever encountered.

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It turns out I’d just missed one bus, so I ended up having to wait for an hour for the next one. At least there was free wifi to keep myself amused.

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Luckily, I didn’t have to be anywhere… I made my way out to the coach an hour later for the hours drive into town.

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I arrived at my hotel, the Melia Paulista (where by pure coincidence the BA crew also stay) at around 08:20 and was able to check in early (for half a days rate).

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And that’s where I’ll leave this part.

British Airways First wasn’t too bad. I must admit I was probably expecting a little better though. The staff were great but the seat seemed a little small compared to what I’d experienced on CX previously – and the fact that BA cram 14 of them into the nose of the 747 means it’s a little crowded. No doubt it’s a great experience on a day flight, but I personally found it a little uncomfortable for sleeping. I’ve seen it said online before that it’s probably the worlds best business class, and I’m inclined to agree.

Look out for part two of the series which will be posted in a week or two which will feature some pics from my time in São Paulo and my Brazilian domestic flight with TAM over to Rio.


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And just the Canadian sectors:

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Thanks for taking a look at yet another one of my reports. This time I will be heading off across the Atlantic for the second time in 2014, but unlike on my previous journey I’ll be heading to Canada, a country I’ve not visited for a good fifteen years. Putting my newly acquired British Airways Gold Status to good use, I ideally wanted to use them for the Trans Atlantic sectors. Prices weren’t too bad over the busy Christmas and New Year break. The best part however was that on the return, World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) was just thirty pounds more than World Traveller (Economy).

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Also, the later BA departure from YYZ had recently been swapped from the 747-400 to the 777-300ER, meaning that by the time I took the flight I would have been on every type in the BA fleet (minus the A318, which isn’t technically operated by BA anyway – at least not in 2014).

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Strangely, after booking I was asked to pay to reserve a seat.

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It turned out to be just a bug in the system though, as once I exited and returned to MMB, everything was in order.

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As I wanted to visit Montreal, a couple of Canadian domestics were in order. These were booked on Air Canada and Porter Airlines respectively for around £60 each.

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During OLCI, the following offers were available.

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I was very tempted, however I figured the reason why they were so desperate to try and sell the upgrades (the prices had been reduced by £50 in the week leading up to the flight) was because the flights were pretty full. I eventually decided to call their bluff and not bother buying them. I figured my status meant I’d be towards the top of the operational upgrade list anyway, and if not I was happy enough with the cabin I’d booked into anyway – especially as I’d not travelled in BA’s World Traveller cabin since early 1997 – so was keen to see what t was like these days.

On the day of departure, it would be the 08:50 coach to Heathrow.

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Upon arrival I made my way over to the First check in area where there was a bit of a queue, but I was still seen within a few moments.

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I then headed through the new T5 fast track – it was a little quicker but no too much, before heading up to the galleries first lounge for some breakfast.

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Once I’d finished eating, I made my way outside to the terrace area which was much quieter and provided a good view of what was going on outside.

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A couple more views of the T5 Galleries First lounge:

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After around an hour or so, gate B36 was displayed, so I headed over to T5B.

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Upon entering the lounge at T5B, I was told that “Unfortunately I had been upgraded to World Traveller Plus”. Well if you insist… The downside of this however was that I’d now been dumped right in the middle of the cabin. I did ask if there were any window seats available but I was told the flight was completely full. That would explain the upgrade then. And I’d saved £168 in the process. I stayed in the lounge for around half an hour or so.

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Before heading down to the gate. As I arrived, boarding was being called. As I made my way down, I was singled out for a thorough search – and for the first time ever I was asked to power up all my electronic devices. The lounge agent who gave me the upgrade mentioned that my seat was a front bulkhead row seat. As I knew row 12 was at the rear of the cabin on the 787, and there was a 747 parked up on stand B36 I figured there had been a last minute change of plane.

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However at the very last moment, it was downstairs to a waiting bus, and a long journey over to the far side of T5C, where G-ZBJB was waiting patiently. This now meant I’d been on G-ZBJA, B and C.

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December 2014
Boeing 787-8/ G-ZBJB
Seat: 26K / World Traveller
Seat: 12E / World Traveller Plus
Scheduled: 12:30/15:25
Off Stand: 12:30
On Stand: 15:16

I took my seat, and as expected the cabin was full.

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There didn’t appear to be any other solo travellers either so no opportunity to pester somebody for a seat swap. Menus and welcome drinks were handed out.

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The captain announced a flying time of seven hours and fifteen minutes. We pushed back exactly on schedule and made the journey over to 27R, which I was abe to follow on the sky map but not much else.

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We lifted off into some cloudy skies and appeared to be making our way up north.

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After departure, hot towels were given out.

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As I couldn’t really pay much attention to what was going on outside, I put Curb Your Enthusiasm on the IFE a few moments later.

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Around thirty minutes after departure, the first drinks run began. I ordered a G&T, and doubles were dished up without prompting.

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A few moments later however, there was some pretty strong turbulence – so strong in fact that the crew were told to halt service and take their seats. Lunch was served just over an hour after takeoff. I chose the beef.

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It wasn’t the worst meal I’d had onboard but I’d had better.

Still relying on the IFE as my only source of entertainment:

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The plus side of being in the middle of the cabin was that I was able to get a pretty good panorama of more or less the entire cabin

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After this, I headed to the back to use the washroom and grab a much needed look at the outside world.

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Followed up by a couple of films, 22 Jump Street and A Million Ways To Die In The West.

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One of the few juice runs:

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Towards the end of the second film the afternoon snacks were handed out.

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After which the First Officer announced that there was just forty minutes until landing.

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Still unable to see much, I took a look at the High Life magazine.

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We made our descent and touched down into a surprisingly sunny and snow free Toronto. And then made a pretty long taxi over to the stand at Terminal 3.

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Everybody made their way off a few moments later and took the long walk over to Passport control. There was also an initial passport check as soon as you exited the jet bridge.

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Once there it took quite a while to get through as I was singled out for further screening – they thought it was a bit odd why I travel so much. They were very thorough too – even asking to see hotel confirmations. No big deal though as I wasn’t in a rush. Once I was finally stamped into the country it was out to wait for a bus to my hotel for the evening, the Hilton Garden Inn.

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For the second time today I was given an upgrade – to a suite.

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I checked in for the following days flight, watched a bit of TV and grabbed some room service – pretty much the only food option around, before turning in for the evening.

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The next morning, I woke up pretty early and headed back to the airport.

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Reasonable views from the room

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Once at the airport, I saw an opportunity to get a couple of pics before heading inside.

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I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass…

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…before heading through security for some breakfast.

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Far better than anything I’d get in a lounge that’s for sure, and for just $5 a bargain too. As I had around an hour until boarding I took a walk to see what was around.

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Before heading down to the gate.

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Just as boarding was scheduled to begin, the ground crew announced it was to be a full flight and that the plane hadn’t yet arrived. I was thinking the E-Jet parked at the adjacent gate would be operating the flight. A few moments later, C-FHOS pulled on to stand.

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Boarding began, and for the first time in a long time I took the regular queue as opposed to the priority one.

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December 2014
Embraer E190 / C-FHOS
Seat: 25A / Economy
Scheduled: 11:00/12:18
Off Stand: 11:10
On Stand: 12:13

I made my way onboard, and reached my seat – my seat mate already firmly in place. Much like on my flight with Oman Air in 2013, this little E-Jet came complete with personal IFE.

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Free Wi-Fi – Nice!

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Pushback came and we made our way out to the active. No word of the flight time came from the flight deck though.

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There was just a company 777 to depart ahead of us, then it was our turn.

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So much for the free Wi-Fi

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And watching the IFE. Oh well.

A few moments later, the crew sprang into action. There was a full drink selection, complete with a small snack. Around the time the trolley reached my row, the engines spooled back and descent began. The flight was pretty similar to a UK domestic really.

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During this time, my seatmate was curious as to why I was taking pictures of things. He figured I was some sort of travel writer – and he wasn’t too far off the mark. We chatted quite a bit until on finals. He mentioned he was also quite a regular flyer, mostly for pleasure than business.

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As we did start our final approach, we passed by downtown Montreal. For once I was on the right side of the plane.

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We made a very light touchdown and a quick taxi over to stand.

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It was then the quick walk over to the arrivals area and on to the 747 bus to the city.

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Around thirty minutes later, I was in the city. As I was a little early to check into my hotel, I went for a quick walk around before heading back.

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I still arrived back a little early, but was able to check in anyway.

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Not a bad view I guess.

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Heated outdoor rooftop pool at the hotel.

I spent a few hours relaxing and chatting complete nonsense with PalmJet and FlyingFinn76 on Facebook before heading out to grab something to eat. The next few days were spent exploring a chilly Montreal. I mostly used the pretty good subway system to get around. Very cheap and covered nearly all the major areas of the city.

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First stop in the city was taking a walk to look around the Viex Port:

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Before heading off to Parc Jean Drapeau, and walking around the GP track. The was about the only snow I saw during my time in Canada.

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Looking around the Old Town once more. I didn’t last too long however – it was just too cold to be outside in the morning.

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Once it had warmed up to a balmy -15, I once more used the subway out to head out to the Olympic park.

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My final evening in the city was spent up Mont Royal. Unpredictably, it was almost unbearably cold. Luckily there was a decent sized chalet to warm up in between photos.

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Of course, I couldn’t leave Quebec without sampling some poutine:

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When it came to checking in for my flight back to Toronto, the seat selection process was much like how I’ve experienced on a LCC – either pay for a specific seat or get shoved wherever. I was put in 10A, which may seem good enough.

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However according to seatguru this row was missing a window. So not so good. The only other option was to pay to upgrade to a premium seat at the front of the cabin, so I stumped up the CAD$20 for 2A instead.

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I checked out of my hotel and took the short walk to the bus stop.

As I arrived at a pretty quiet airport earlier than expected I took a bit of a walk around, before stumbling across the Porter check in area.

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Toronto is a very popular destination from YUL it seems.

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As there was nobody waiting, I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass. I was pleased to see it wasn’t the standard plain white affair!

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After this, I headed through security – where once again I was the only person there, so it took just a couple of minutes. I took a walk around the concourse to see what was around. Luckily there was a decent set of windows.

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After which I grabbed a drink and headed down to gate 9.

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I tracked my incoming plane, which had just left Toronto. Although it would later prove to be a different plane completely, as my flight was actually a YHZ-YUL-YTZ service.

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December 2014
Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 / C-GLQK
Seat: 2A / Economy
Scheduled: 11:30/12:40
Off Stand: 11:27
On Stand: 12:38

General boarding began, and as far as I knew, I was the first on board – until I actually made it on board and found half a plane full of people. I was greeted by a cheerful crew member and directed to my seat. The legroom was pretty good, so at least the CAD$20 was somewhat worth it.

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The plane filled up until it was completely full as far as I could see. The flight deck came over the PA and welcomed everybody and said that we would hopefully be airborne within ten minutes. No flight time was given however.

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We pushed back a couple of minutes ahead of schedule whilst the crew performed the safety briefing. A very quick taxi followed to the nearest runway and we powered into the air.

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Some ten minutes or so after departure, service began. From what I could see, the crew left the trolleys in the middle of the cabin and delivered all the drinks on a tray. There was a choice of crisps, nuts or cookies to eat, along with a selection of drinks. I chose the cookies and some orange juice, which was delivered to my seat on a silver tray and in a branded glass along with a smile.

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After this, the crew passed through the cabin a few more times, checking everybody was ok.

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My seat mate then said she noticed I was taking quite a few pics and asked if I was into flying or photography. How refreshing that on both my Canadian domestics, rather than just assume I was up to no good, my seat mates seemed genuinely interested as to what I was up to and strike up a conversation about it! After around thirty minutes of flight, the flight deck announced that descent was ten minutes away.

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We made our way down, passing through some rough clouds along the way.

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Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side for any decent views – all I could see was the water of Lake Ontario. Out the other side, I could see the buildings of downtown Toronto passing by very close. We touched down and came to a very sudden stop on the runway at Toronto City airport.

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After this, it was a brief taxi over to the terminal.

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I saw the marshaller franticly making the X sign with his batons as we approached our gate and we screeched to a halt just before turning on to stand. A few moments later, we proceeded and pulled up to an interesting looking gate – at ground level, but with the standard jet bridge type connection to the plane.

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It was then through some confusing corridors – the signs either directed you to other gates or the connections desk. Myself and a few others were neither and we had to flag down a passing worker to point us in the right direction. Basically to the end of the corridor and through baggage claim.

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It was then on to the ferry for the minute or so journey over to the mainland.

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Followed by a bus ride to the centre – all courtesy of Porter.

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As I could see my hotel in the distance, and I was a little early to check in I took the walk up the road rather than catch the subway.

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My room on the 20th floor of the Toronto Doubletree.

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With a good view too:

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I spent the next couple of days seeing what was going on in Toronto – quite a bit as it turned out, as it was new year. I couldn’t believe how much the area had changed since my last visit back in 1999.

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Dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe on NYE:

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Checking out the CN Tower. As it was New Years day, it was very quiet. In fact I was the only person in the lift heading to the top.

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Of course, I spent a lot of time looking in this general area.

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This was actually the one that brought me from YUL.

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I also took a walk around the Old Town – I must admit I never knew Toronto had an old town until I saw it in a tourist guide at the hotel.

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And finally, checking out the Eaton Centre.

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When it was time to return to the airport, I was surprised to see that there weren’t any express services from the city. So instead, it was via public transport. It took around an hour, but for just CAD$3 a real bargain.

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Upon reaching terminal 3 at YYZ, I queued up in the First Class line, as I’m entitled to do.

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The check in agent spotted me and abruptly said “business class?”. Erm, no but I have a gold card… He summoned me over and began typing. He asked what seat I was in, and when I replied he said that British Airways had now put me into a sleeper seat and that I should head upstairs to the lounge where the airline would be more than happy to provide me with dinner. He then handed back my passport, a boarding pass and wished me a very happy new year – talk about change of tune. But more importantly, I’d called BA’s bluff brilliantly with regards to the upgrade situation.

I then headed through security, and as there didn’t appear to be much airside, straight up to the lounge.

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The agent welcomed me in and handed me a dinner voucher – saying that I could get dinner from the Club side and eat it in the First side.

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I had the entire First section to myself, for around twenty minutes until a family with a pretty noisy child turned up. Luckily, a few glances in their general direction led to an apology and them calming the child down a bit.

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A snack to begin with:

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I went to grab some dinner whilst it was still quiet, but the buffet wasn’t quite open, so made do with some champagne instead.

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Eventually, I did wander over to the J lounge to grab a tasty dinner. As the buffet didn’t really have anything that jumped out at me, I ordered some of the risotto.

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By the time I was done, the F lounge had filled up considerably – not that it’s too big anyway (only twelve “proper” seats), so I had to make do with the seats nearer the entrance.

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As I wanted to enjoy some of the service on board, I grabbed a coffee. As it would turn out, the coffee worked a little better than anticipated as I ended up enjoying all of the service on board, rather than just some of it.

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With around an hour until boarding, I made my way down to the gate as I fancied a change of scenery.

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The lounge area was certainly different to anything I’d seen before – with a lot less seats and free to use iPads everywhere.

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Boarding began, and somewhat predictably, as soon as the ground crew stepped up to the mic a mass bundle took place, including some guy barging his way past the entire fast track line, announcing loudly that he has young children so needs to be first. Moron.

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January 2015
Boeing 777-300ER / G-STBB
Seat: 25K / World Traveller Plus
Seat: 13A / Club World
Scheduled: 22:05/09:50
Off Stand: 22:07
On Stand: 10:00

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Almost as soon as I reached my seat, I was offered a newspaper and a drink of either water, oj or champagne. As I’m not a fan of BA champagne, I opted for the water.

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This aircraft had the slightly older generation Club seat, and I found it a little more comfortable than what I experienced on the 787. Although I could be just imagining that.

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Nice scheme – No idea who it belonged to though.

My seat mate turned up and immediately raised the divider between the two seats – which suited me. Despite the 8 abreast seating, it still felt very private.

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I do like these lamps in the Club cabin. Very classy.

The menus were handed out and dinner orders taken. I opted for the chicken.

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We then pushed back (which seemed to take the crew by surprise somewhat) and I got to hear the great noise of the GE90’s starting up.

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After this, we made our way over to be de-iced.

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This took a good few moments, then we made the long trek over to the opposite side of the airport for departure.

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We eventually lifted off forty five minutes after leaving the gate.

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As we climbed, the amenity kits were handed out, which included the usual bits and pieces.

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Within thirty minutes of departure, the bar service began, joined by an episode of American Dad.

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Followed just a few seconds later by dinner.

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After this the cabin settled down for the short evening. I wasn’t feeling that tired however, so I watched a few things on tv, mostly the BA documentary series that was shown on the BBC last year.

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I’d pre ordered an A380 model, which I had to chase up on. The crew didn’t really know the procedure as they said they’d never had anybody pre order duty free before. Guess I was the first person ever then… maybe.

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I also paid a visit to the club kitchen.

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After a few more episodes of top gear, the cabin was starting to come back to life.

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Breakfast was served.

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There were also bacon and egg muffins offered but I didn’t take one.

By this time, the sun was starting to appear outside too.

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The captain announced our descent and that as it was a little busy at Heathrow, we would probably have to hold for fifteen minutes or so. On our way down there was a pretty good view of LHR.

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After more than a few laps of the Ockham hold, we turned on to finals, which led to some good views of London.

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We made a very smooth touchdown and rolled out for quite a while – enabling us to turn off the runway and pretty much straight on to stand at T5C.

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It was a reasonably short wait to leave, before heading off to the main building.

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The procedures were carried out pretty quickly and I made my way up to the arrivals lounge to freshen up and have some breakfast.

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The breakfast options were pretty much the same as in the F lounge, but I didn’t notice any menus around.

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Heathrow becomes airport number 2 on my airport shower list.

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Unfortunately this particular one had seen better days.

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I stayed for just over an hour before heading downstairs for the coach home.

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And that brings an end to my final trip of 2014.

How did BA do this time? Well not too bad – which is the standard I’ve found recently. The upgrades were gratefully received and it was good to try out their Club World product for the first time.

Air Canada were decent enough too on the hours sector – its just a shame the IFE or the Wi-Fi didn’t work as advertised. But on a short flight it wasn’t a big issue. If it was a YYZ-YVR sector though it would have been more of an annoyance.

Porter I thought were a great little airline. Friendly crew on the ground and in the air, very tasty choice of snacks on board (as opposed to the single offering on AC) and great presentation of the service too. The only niggle is the seat selection system which basically forces you to pay for a seat or get what you’re given – this seemed very LCC.