British Airways | Airbus A320/B747-400 | CDG-LHR-IAD | Euro Traveller/World Traveller Plus

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

This second part will cover my journey back from Paris to London Heathrow, and then onwards to Wasington. For those that might have missed it, the first part of the series can be found here:

USA 2013 Pt 1: The Beginning BA LHR-ORY

A few days before departure, the seat map for the first sector opened right up and I managed to bag seat 5A, therefore having the middle seat free.

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However a day later I was unexpectedly moved back to 7A, and the middle seat was no longer blocked, despite being the first row behind Club. Oh well. Of interest, the BA website said the aircraft type was the scheduled A319, despite it being a seatmap for an A320.

The onward sector to Washington remained pretty full throughout:

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My morning started at 5am. I checked out of the hotel and headed over to the CDGVAL to terminal 2, arriving a few moments later.

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Upon arrival, it was a pretty long walk over to the BA check in desks that were hidden in a basement.

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When I got there, I was met with a pretty long queue however my BA status meant I could bypass this and head for the Club Europe check in where there wasn’t anybody waiting at all. There were a few problems upon checking in – first off, they said my api hadn’t been completed – which it had, and then when presenting my visa card for verification, they said this wasn’t the card used for payment… Yeah because the card I had used for payment had expired. Eventually everything was sorted, although I was a little upset I didn’t get given one of those transferring at T5 booklets!

After this it was through security. Reasonably busy, but not too slow. Basically the opposite experience of T5! As usual it was then straight into a duty free shop.

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I wanted to buy a couple of bits, however I was told it was closed. In fact pretty much the whole terminal seemed closed.

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That’ll explain why this place is deserted!

The only place I could really find to grab anything to drink was a vending machine… So that had to do.

It was then a case of waiting around at gate A47 for boarding to commence. A few moments later the crew of four cabin and two fligh turned up, but as there were no ground staff around, they were forced to wait too.

Unfortunately, the views weren’t brilliant, so couldn’t really see much of the movements outside.

Boarding eventually started at 07:00.

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As I was heading down the jetway, I finally found a small window to see the landing gear doors – ‘YL meant I would be on one of the more recent additions to the BA fleet having joined just a few days over 22 months ago. Turned out this flight had been subbed for an A320 rather than the A319.

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BA303
CDG-LHR
4th April 2013
A320-232 / G-EUYL
Seat: 7A / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 07:30/07:40
Off Stand: 07:28
On Stand: 08:05

Once on board, I was welcomed back by name and I noticed I did actually have the first row behind club, however I did have two seat mates – so I guess on the odd occasion all three seats behind club are sold? Either way, the legroom in this row was very good – better than I had experienced in Club/Business on both BA and other airlines in fact.

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Albino El-Al next door

Shortly after the captain was on the PA saying boarding was complete well ahead of schedule and thanking everybody for arriving on time. It was now just a case of waiting for our slot to come around so we could push back. He also mentioned we would have to be de iced – a new experience for me! A flight time of 44 minutes was given so he was still hopeful of an on time arrival.

Push back was a couple of minutes ahead of schedule, however having to taxi to the furthest runway and then be de iced, despite being ready well ahead of schedule we didn’t actually lift off until 08:00 – a thirty minute delay.

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This one followed us pretty much all the way – despite being on tow.
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After ten or fifteen minutes or so, we entered the pit box to be de iced.

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And a further ten minutes or so later, we pulled away, the flaps were extended, flight controls tested and made our way to the runway. Luckily we were allowed an intersection departure rather than having to taxi right to the threshold, which would no doubt take even more time.

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Once we had departed, it was a few turns in the direction of the UK.

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Once through the cloud layer the breakfast service started. Quite a tasty salami and cheese roll and a cup of tea. I didn’t actually ask for the OJ, but was handed it anyway. Nice and pro active there.

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Not often you get two windows in economy on an A32X!

While breakfast was going down, descent started. The crew made the round clearing the cabin – one guy being very cheerful indeed – whistling away and humming to himself for pretty much the whole flight! This was handy as I knew when to hide my camera as I could hear him coming from a few rows back! Once over the UK there was quite a few cloud layers.

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This aircraft didn’t seem to have any drop down screens, so no way of tracking our progress. The flight was your typical short Euro hop really – takeoff, thrown a meal and a drink, have the rubbish snatched away shortly after and then land. As the skies were overcast throughout, there weren’t even any decent views to be had. Pretty non descript flight really – much like my sector over to MUC last year.

Unsurprisingly, we were placed into a hold for around ten minutes or so. The flight crew also mentioned that it was pretty chilly down there.

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VS A330 also flying around in circles above us.

After a good few minutes in the hold above my house, we were ushered onto finals, although there wasn’t a huge amount to be seen. The cabin crew didn’t get the ‘seats for landing’ instruction until quite late into finals – pretty much as we passed Windsor actually.

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We landed on to 09L at around 08:00, arriving on to stand a few moments later.

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The AA 77W is a pretty common sight at LHR.
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We then arrived on to stand and the normal stampede to exit began.

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Once into the terminal, it was a case of following the signs to flight connections.

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I had my boarding pass scanned, welcomed back by name and asked how I was doing. I love how a little bit of status makes people so much nicer!

I was fine at that point, but then it was up to security. Now I’m not totally sure of the logic of making transfer passengers clear security again, but it was very slow, despite not being very busy. Very poor planning. Having spoken to my auntie who spent many years working for BAA over at T4 a week or so later, she said it was the same deal there too. Yet pretty much every other place I’ve transferred at I could just go straight to my next gate. I’m led to believe that even coming from another terminal at LHR avoids this extra security check. Very strange.

Soon after clearing security I paid another visit to the South end of the terminal

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The problems getting out of Paris meant the aircrafts next mission had a 30 minute delay
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Before long though, it was time to head over to gate B33 via the transit. I was glad about this as I’d not visited T5B before – at least while it was in operation!

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Nice choice of location for this one!
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Once at the gate I would either be on G-BYGA or G-BNLM.

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As it turned out, it would be G-BYGA operating today’s flight, one of the newer 747’s in British Airways fleet, although I use that term loosely as the aircraft in question was delivered in 1998 wearing the Chelsea Rose world tail scheme.

Pre boarding was announced at 09:10, but that didn’t stop a huge group trying their luck anyway.

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They were promptly told to sit back down again though. Boarding proper started at 09:20, although there wasn’t any pre boarding for World Traveller Plus – one major difference from VS. It was finally my turn at 09:30 for my first BA longhaul flight for sixteen years.

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BA217
LHR-IAD
4th April 2013
747-436 / G-BYGA
Seat: 30K / World Traveller Plus
Scheduled: 09:55/12:50
Off Stand: 09:58
On Stand: 12:47

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The legroom was good, however the IFE boxes were awkwardly placed.

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The load in World Traveller Plus was pretty good. In fact I’m not sure I saw a spare seat.

The entertainment system was switched in from boarding, a new experience for me.

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During boarding, the menus were handed out. Neither options really jumped out at me.

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Safety demo in progress

Pushback was more or less on schedule, however upon reaching 09R there was a bit of a hold up.

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Around ten minutes later, the flight deck were on the PA stating the hold up was due to the runway being inspected, and that we should be underway shortly although there was nothing to worry about as this is standard procedure. Around 10:25, we took to the air, making an immediate right turn and then into cloud. The captain had previously mentioned our route and it seemed we would be taking quite a northerly track.

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Around twenty minutes after departure the drinks service began. This was a much better option than experienced with VS last year, as I’m not a fan of eating lunch at 11am! Doubles were dished out without asking.

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Cabin overview shortly after departure

Once things outside had clouded over, I took a proper look at the IFE system. It was either touch screen or operated using the controller.

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We had company over Ireland.
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Around 12:00 London time the lunch service began. As I’d previously mentioned, neither option really jumped out at me, but I decided on the beef. It was very good actually, along with the starter and desert. In fact I’m pretty sure this was one of the only occasions I’d given a tray back with nothing left on it – including the cutlery!! I had a sneak peak at my seatmates fish, and although it smelled decent enough I’d didn’t look as appealing. I was led to belive that Word Traveller Plus has the same meal service as Club World, however the trolleys were dragged from the back of the cabin and carried on into World Traveller (economy) once we had been served. Although the food and presentation did seem of a high-ish quality. Certainly higher than what I’d expect of your standard economy meal service anyway.

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After this I settled down to watch a couple of films – This Is 40 and I’ll Give It A Year. Typical plane movies really. Neither brilliant, but good enough to waste a few hours, along with a few glances outside.

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Throughout the flight, the crew were pretty good with distributing drinks – about every thirty minutes or so.

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Once the films had finished I’d, noticed we were passing a pretty cold area of Canada. The layout of the WTP cabin is a little awkward as the seats are set back from the windows, therefore making photography a little difficult. The fact row 30 is misaligned too didn’t help matters either.

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Once the live IFE had finished, due to it clouding over, I went for a walk, and had a chat to the crew.

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Pretty small economy cabin
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Confirmation of the reg.
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After I’d felt I’d outstayed my welcome in the galley, I returned to my seat. Luckily by this point the clouds had cleared and the views had returned. Just a shame I had a fairly important lump of metal blocking most of the view.

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The final two hours of the flight were spent listening to music and watching the distance drop on the skymap. Final cruising altitude was 38,000ft

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These had seen better days

With around 90 minutes of the flight remaining, afternoon tea was served. Very good also.

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Slowly edging towards our destination
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The flight was then winding down. The crew were tidying the cabin and at just before midday local, I felt us heading back towards solid ground so the iPod was switched off as things were going to get interesting again. We initially descended to 26,000ft and then around twenty minutes later descent started properly.

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Touchdown was at around 12:45

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We taxied over to the stand, pulling in alongside A KE 77W.

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Disembarkation was pretty quick due to the dual airbridges I disembarked through L1 and it was on to one of the famous IAD moon buggies. There was a bit of a wait while it filled up, but then it was a pretty good tour of IAD, passing pretty close by a VX A320 just starting up – so close that it was actually too close to get a picture.

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Immigration took around 30 minutes – not brilliant but still better than JFK by a long way.

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Once through it was on to a bus for the thirty minute or so drive to Rosslyn station. The official bus was well signposted but there wasn’t a mention of any others. I eventually asked and was sent in the right direction

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Once at Rosslyn, it was on to the metro to my hotel, the Doubletree at Pentagon City. Upon checking in, I was informed that I’d been upgraded to a suite and given two free cookies! Result!

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The view from the living area of my room.
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And the view from the bedroom.

After a couple of hours, I headed back out to the local mall to grab a bite to eat.

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Looks good doesn’t it Philip!
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Wow, they’re accurate!

By the time I was done I was feeling pretty tired, so headed back, watched some awful American TV, watched a couple of arrivals into DCA and then went to bed.

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The following morning, I headed out to see what Washington had to offer. Quite a bit actually – very nice city and everything was within a reasonable walking distance.

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Shame this was closed off due to the earthquake a couple of years back.
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Washington is also a good city for watching planes!
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One of the locals
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More planes
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One of the many war memorials
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American History Museum
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After going to the American History museum, it was off to the one place I was looking forward to visiting the most on this trip. Well worth a visit it was too!

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Wish BA (or at least the franchise) still had these.
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Wrong!
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Overview
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I never knew this one was here.
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Replica of the Hubble telescope.

After an enjoyable couple of hours, I headed out in the direction of the capital building and back towards Crystal City.

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Once back at Crystal City I headed off in the direction of DCA. I had done a bit of research before hand and saw there was a park that could be within walking distance at the end of the runway. It was a 20 minute or so walk, but worth it. Wish I’d had a drink with me though!

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After this I headed off to get some dinner, and then back to the hotel for the evening.

The next day, I took a walk down to the long bridge park and watched a few of the departures from DCA.

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This was about as close as I would get to the Pentagon

Once I was done I headed over to the pentagon city mall to grab a bite to eat and had a bit of a wonder. Oh and having a very attractive young lady trying to sell me some moisturizer for just $150. As a bonus she said she would throw her phone number and email in, but unfortunately for her I wasn’t born yesterday.

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After this, I jumped on the Metro to the Arlington cemetery and had a relaxing walk around for the next couple of hours.

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And on that note, I’ll leave this part of the report. Look out for part 3 that will cover a frustrating experience at DCA and my flight over to Chicago that almost didn’t happen.

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

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

For my first trip outside of Europe for of the year, I’ll be heading off to the USA. But why does the map above show a flight between London and Paris? That’s because I’ll be heading across the English Channel the day before departure, and this will be the first of a five part series. The following parts will cover my journey back from Paris via London to Washington, then onwards from Reagan airport to Chicago, Chicago to Orlando and then back to London from Orlando via Miami and Atlanta. So the final journey and schedule will be as follows:

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British Airways A319 LHR-ORY
British Airways A319 CDG-LHR
British Airways 747-400 LHR-IAD
American Eagle CRJ700 DCA-ORD
American Airlines MD-80 ORD-MCO
American Airlines 757-200 MCO-MIA
American Eagle ERJ145 MIA-ATL
British Airways 777-200 ATL-LHR

But why head off to Paris only to come straight back to the UK? The reason for that is by starting the journey outside the UK, I could fly the Trans Atlantic sectors in BA’s World Traveller Plus (premium economy) cabin for around £100 more than World Traveller (economy) due to paying the French taxes rather than the UK taxes, which go up in price the higher the cabin class. I could have chosen any European city, but Paris was the main one that stuck out as it was relatively near by and I’d not been there for a good ten years or so.

The thought process of this trip started back in the summer of 2012. I’ve got family down in Florida that I hadn’t seen for a while now, so wanted to head back. Also despite seeing many cities in the US, I’d never been to Washington – so studied options to tie them both in. As my thinking went on, I remembered quite liking Chicago on my previous visits so that was added to the itinerary too.

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I then thought of the Euro cheating and this brought the price down considerably. Another thought I had was to fly down to Miami in order to gain another sector and more importantly avoid the ‘toytown express’ from MCO.

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More investigating found the previously mentioned World Traveller Plus fares at a reasonable rate, and the final price came to around £1100. Of course, when I came to book a few weeks later my desired itinerary had shot up to £2500. Too much. How about flying out of MCO – as I’d now gone from World Traveller Plus, it should hopefully be away from most of the screaming kids that I’d experienced on VS flights to/from MCO. This brought the price down to £2000, which was still more than I was willing to shell out. So I tried all available combinations with connections before finally finding a price I was willing to pay, back down to around £1100 – connecting in Miami and Atlanta on the return leg.

Best of all was that the MIA-ATL sector was operated by an E145 that was missing from my log, and I had wanted to try one out for a while now.

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That left the London – Paris sector and the Chicago – Orlando sectors to sort. The London – Paris sector had to be booked separately in order to take advantage of the Euro cheat, and the Chicago – Orlando sectors that BA gave me arrived into MCO a little bit too late – so didn’t really suit either me or my family I’d be staying with.

The London – Paris sector was sorted with 4,500 Avios and £13.50. There was plenty of choice on flights, so I chose Orly as I’d not been to that airport before.

A week before departure I was able to pre select my seats. BA had put me in 10B – obviously this was no good, so I went for the very last row instead – 22A

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I set of a little earlier than needed, as I wanted to stop at the shop to buy a sandwich to go with the birdseed BA will serve up on my flight. Although I still arrived a little early, and ended having to wait in the cold.

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Luckily, today’s coach ride was a lot less stressful – the coach actually started today as opposed to my previous trip a few days earlier – and I arrived at terminal 5 at just before 11am.

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I headed off to grab my boarding pass at the club desks and was given a slightly forced welcome back sir.

After this, i went for a wonder landside, as I nearly always head straight through security. My initial plan was to head through north security, as I’d only ever used south before.

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However it was only open to those who’s flights departed before midday – so back down to south it was. It wasn’t too busy, but a little slow. Once through, I went for a wonder airside.

After browsing a couple of shops, I headed down to the gates in the A23 area to take a few pictures. There were also a few other people in this area taking an interest in what was going on and taking a few pictures.

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Pretty busy out there!

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Shortly after, gate A17 was announced for my flight.

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I made my way down, and the gate area seemed pretty busy, however this was mainly due to people on other flights sitting there. Guess that’s the problem with general boarding areas rather than holding pens. Although I must admit I do prefer this layout. Shortly after at 12:10, general boarding was announced – with no mention about pre boarding for Executive club members or those travelling in club. It did seem to stop the mass stampede though, and I was one of the first on board, stopping to pick up a paper along the way. As a frequent flyer from T5 now, its handy to know not to bother buying one.

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BA334
LHR-ORY
3rd April 2013
A319-131 / G-EUPW
Seat: 22A / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 12:35/14:55
Off Stand: 12:38
On Stand: 14:46

Once onboard, I made my way towards the final row where my allocated seat was and watched the masses pile in. Most of the passengers seemed to be French. Eventually, the queue died down and it became apparent that I’d have the whole of row 22 to myself. Great start to the trip – shame this was only one of two flights I had this privilege on this trip though.

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Unusual to see a heavy at this part of T5 – not sure where it was going.

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Pretty standard legroom.

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Both occasions I’ve sat in the back row on BA, I’ve had the entire row to myself.

Once all the passengers were on board, the captain appeared at the front of the cabin, and made his pre flight announcement from there – the only time I’d seen a captain make an announcement from the front if the cabin before was on my KLM flight last year, when it was all going slightly wrong! No flight time was given however. Due to being in the last row, my view of the event wasn’t that brilliant either.

Pushback was a couple of minutes behind schedule and we made our way over to 09R, passing a VS 744 along the way. There was a brief hold up whilst a QR 77W landed, but once that had finished its business on the runway, it was our turn and we were off.

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For a couple of a.netters from The Netherlands!

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This one took me to LAX way back in 1998.

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Start of the most comprehensive trip I’ve done… until May.

After take off we initially levelled off at 6000ft, which happened to be right in the cloud layer – therefore making for a bit of a rough ride but a few moments later we were cleared to climb again, to our cruising altitude of 23,000ft.

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Quite a full seat pocket on this short flight

Shortly after departure the crew commenced their service

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Once again, I provided the sandwich

Once we were across the channel and into French airspace, the weather cleared up a bit, but not too much.

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Descent started while I was still eating – so my guess of a flight time of around 40 minutes seemed about right.

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There was quite a bit of cloud around and things got a little bumpy on the approach, but the first officer did a great job making a smooth landing. I made a point to compliment him on the way out.

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After this, it was out through the airy arrivals of Paris Orly.

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There were a couple of interesting jets around, including an Openskies 757 in the new livery. Good to see a 757 in BA livery again, but without RR engines, it just doesn’t look quite right!

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Alongside this was the old liveried version.

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And something else quite new.

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And my ride over from the UK.

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I reached passport control and asked for a stamp in my passport. The police officer didn’t seem to understand, then asked the other officer. He didn’t understand either. I then made the international sign for ‘I’d like a stamp please’ and it was understood straight away. After this, it was through to baggage claim, but as I travel extremely light I could bypass this. If I can be away for nearly 2 weeks and fit everything into a rucksack, then why do some people feel the need to have 2 rolling suitcases, rucksacks, handbags etc. for a 40 minute flight? Just check them in!

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Once through customs, I followed the signs to the OrlyVal to connect to the RER into the city. Shame ticket machines weren’t so easy to find, and I had to see an actual person to buy an expensive ticket.

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OrlyVal station which connects to the RER B line.

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To those in the know I’m sure this makes perfect sense. It didn’t to me though.

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I exited the train somewhere near the Eiffel Tower and took in some of the sights of Paris for the next few hours before continuing my journey across the city to CDG.

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After a few hours of wondering, it was starting to get a bit cold and dark so time to head back to the airport on the Roissy bus. I wanted to take the train but the only station I could find didn’t connect to the B line that I needed so I headed off in the general direction of Opera where the bus departs from instead. I normally have a pretty good sense of direction, but this was one of the few occasions where having Google maps on my phone really saved me a lot of aimless wondering. I arrived at the bus stop and attempted to pay the €10 fare with cash, but it was either change or card only – no paper money. So card it was annoyingly as I had a pretty big stash of Euro notes that I could have done with getting rid of rather than taking money out of my bank unnecissarrily.

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Upon arrival at CDG T3 (or at least the tunnel that leads to it), it was a case of heading across the road to the Hilton. Quite a good hotel, but nothing special for the very pricey £130 I paid for the single night. It was only meant to be around £100 for the night when I booked (still a bit pricey) but due to the exchange rate taking a turn for the worse between booking and paying, it meant I ended up paying more than planned. If I had known this, I would have stayed at the cheaper Ibis across the road. Still, It was very comfortable so cant complain too much.

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Not a bad view either.

As I’d not had a chance to grab I bite to eat in town, it was a case of grabbing some pretty expensive room service – Can you see a theme developing with this hotel here?! Again, I can’t complain about the food apart from the fact it was a bit on the pricey side. Still, at least I managed to get rid of some of my Euros in the process.

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The rest of what was left of the evening was spent relaxing in front of the TV and listening to my iPod before grabbing an early-ish night, as I had to be up early the following morning.

Stay tuned for the following parts of this report covering my trip to the USA!

British Airways / Virgin Atlantic Little Red | A320 | LHR-MAN-LHR

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

20th April 2012 – IAG completes its purchase of BMI From Lufthansa and announces the airline is to be integrated into British Airways. 15th August 2012 – Virgin (initially) loses the West Coast Mainline train franchise in the UK. Two key dates leading to this weekend’s trip, as shortly after losing out on the rail franchise, on the 21st August 2012, Virgin Atlantic announced they would launch their first domestic services between Manchester and London in March 2013. Being a frequent flyer of Virgin Atlantic for the last nineteen years, being able to take part in one of their inaugural flights for a bargain price was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Initially the flights weren’t able to book online, however shortly after returning from New York (also on VS – see report here: http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/226100 ) the online booking system opened up and I parted with £47.55 to confirm my place on the first flight from Manchester.

A few moments later my E-ticket receipt arrived in my inbox.

This left a further two things to sort. First off how I would get up to Manchester and secondly where I would stay once I was there. Well these were pretty easy questions to answer. I Used 4500 Avios + £13.50 to buy myself a reward ticket onboard BA1372 the previous lunchtime to take me up North.

I then booked myself into the Radisson BLU for the night. I upgraded my room at the hotel to a Business Class room, as these were on the top floor, therefore giving the best views across the airport – more of that later.

The next few months were spent being drip-fed various bits of information about the new VS services. During which time, it wasn’t possible to see any info regarding the booking on the VS website – it was just on a constant ‘loading’ screen.

Further developments saw additional routes to Aberdeen and Edinburgh announced along with the announcement that VS would be wet leasing the A320 aircraft from Aer Lingus. This was a change in plan as initially the services were announced as using A319’s.

Eventually the Manage my booking section on the website opened up and around 8 weeks prior to departure the seat map opened up also. I initially chose seat 19A, however the following day the folks on v-flyer.com hatched a plan. The theory was that if everybody prebooked a window seat and an aisle, unless the flight was completely full then the middle seats should stay empty, therefore creating a business type arrangement. My new seat would be 5F.

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Two weeks prior to departure, the VS flight times were changed – instead of departing Manchester at 06:50, the flight would now leave at 07:35. I’m pretty sure all the Manchester departures have now changed times from the original advertised ones.

One week before departure, I was able to select my seats on the British Airways flight. I would have preferred something towards the front, however these were all blocked. I elected for 17F, just behind the wing in the hope that a few more would open up at check in.

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A couple of days before my flight, my patience was rewarded and I could move forward to seat 3F.

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First off it was time to check in for the BA flight. Unfortunately this didn’t work too well as It said there was a problem and then issued my boarding pass anyway – I’d had a similar issue on my trip to Frankfurt last year.

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This was the first time I’d checked in for a plane on a boat:

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Check in for the VS flight the following morning was flawless. Although their website is still a mix of old and new which looks a bit unprofessional, the function is there. So far then VS 1-BA 0.

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Range of boarding pass options

I elected for the mobile option

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Shortly after checking in for the Virgin flight, I headed off to catch the 10:05 coach to Heathrow. The coach was a bit delayed departing by people turning up at the last minute, then having no idea which terminal they were going from and then finally not having tickets. Following this, there was a technical problem with the coach – so not the best of starts. Luckily the 10:35 service arrived early and everybody was transferred to that one, and we finally left at 10:20… Until some more passengers turned up. Dearie me.

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I arrived at T5 at just after 10:45, and headed off to grab my souvenir boarding pass. As all the desks looked pretty full, I had to make do with a machine.

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I then headed through security. I went to the normal lane, but the guy checking boarding passes told me I had to use the fast track instead – suited me! Wonder of the fact I was sat at the front confused him slightly? I was through in a couple of minutes and headed down to where I suspected my flight would be departing from.

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I was wrong however, as a few moments later gate A11 flashed up on the screens.

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I made my way down and as I arrived an A320 was arriving on to stand. Looks like this one had seen better days as I couldn’t make out the reg above the flight deck windows.

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Soon to be a rare sight I think

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A bit of creative maneuvering later and I could see it would be G-EUUW taking me up north today. At 11:30, a delay was announced due to the late inbound arrival of the aircraft. It was also announced that boarding would take place strictly by seat number only. Of course, this didn’t stop people queuing up anyway.

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Looks so out of place at T5.

Boarding was called at 11:40, but due to being in one of the forward rows I was one of the last onboard at 12:00. I was welcomed back by name and wished a pleasant flight.

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BA1372
LHR-MAN
30th March 2013
A320-232 / G-EUUW
Seat: 3F / Domestic
Scheduled: 12:00/13:00
Off Stand: 12:07
On Stand: 13:12

The flight seemed pretty full, and I had two seatmates. The captain came over the PA and welcomed everybody onboard but didn’t mention a flight time.

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Good legroom in the Club Europe section

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The doors were shut at 12:04 and pushback was made at 12:07. Despite runway 9R being in use for takeoff, it was still a pretty slow taxi for departure.

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Extinguished firefly

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We were finally away at around 12:30, making a sharp turn to the left in the direction of Manchester.

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Pretty steep climb

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Almost immediately the crew started the service – unsurprising considering it was likely to be a sort flight.

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I provided the sandwich myself.

During the very brief cruise, the captain came over the PA saying he had a special announcement for somebody on board. The person in control of the aircraft at ATC’s son was onboard and he wanted to wish him a pleasant flight.

Almost as soon as I had finished my lunch, descent started at around 12:50. There were quite a few turns, and I saw Jodrell Bank observatory a few times so figured we would probably landing on the 5’s.

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Pretty snowy down there

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Jodrell Bank

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Just before 13:10 we made firm contact with 05L .

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We then turned off for T3, passing the Ryanair farm along the way.

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A few moments later we arrived on stand. On the way out, the first officer was stood at the door – I couldn’t help but notice he looked a lot like former trip reporter Jonas. Maybe that’s why we’ve not heard from him in a while? Who knows.

It was then through the bowels of T3 and into the arrivals area.

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On my way out I wondered upstairs to see the new VS check in area.

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Then headed up to the car park to see what was going on – not much.

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Didn’t expect to see this one here

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I then decided to try my luck at checking into the hotel.

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Despite it being before 14:00 they had a room but it wasn’t overlooking the airport… That wouldn’t be any good! I decided to grab a coffee in T2 and try again later.

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Is there ever anybody in this terminal?

Luckily, on my second attempt a room was available. The room itself probably wasn’t any different to a normal one, but the view was worth the extra £30! As I’d paid the extra, I decided to stay in as I’d seen Manchester many times before.

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Just lying around watching planes…

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One for Marc

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The new MON livery really suits the A330

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I did eventually venture into town to grab a bite to eat.

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I then made my way back to the hotel just in time to catch the VS A320 arriving from DUB – thanks to Philip (OA260) for the heads up!

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Followed shortly after by the LX A320 with Sharklets.

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I then headed out to meet up with the guys from V-flyer. No doubt a few of them will be reading this, so good to meet you.

Around 21:30 I headed back to my room to see what (or wasn’t as it turned out) going on.

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Sunday morning started earlier than expected – why can’t I sleep in hotels?! The bed was fine, yet I still woke up at 2am and never got back to sleep.

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Much needed!

Seemed a bit had gone on at the airport overnight.

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Just before 5 am, I set off to T3.

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Interesting choice of shape to say the least….

Once I arrived there was quite a queue. And it stayed that way as check in didn’t open until 05:35. There seemed to be a few issues with the self serve check in machines, but once they were sorted I had the privilege of being the Guinea pig!

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It worked fine for me, although a bit slow. The following person, one of the V-Flyers wasn’t so lucky and had to go and see a person.

It was then off to security – which was a nightmare. People everywhere, all of whom seemed to be running late for their flight. The system at Manchester doesn’t seem too efficient – mostly automated rather than an actual person, so therefore only allowing somebody through every 30-45 seconds or so rather than 10 or so if a person was signaling people through. By which point most had started looking around and therefore missing the green light signaling them through.

Once through – 45 minutes later – it was through a few corridors, then a 180 degree turn back the way I came to where there were a few bits waiting at gate 18, and a few more V-flyers. There were also a few VS crew around, but they wouldn’t be taking the flight they were just on hand to make sure everything went to plan.

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There were a couple of VS officials about – and they seemed a little peeved that EasyJet had sent this particular one

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Boarding was called just after 7:10, and as my boarding pass was scanned I was handed an Easter present from VS.

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VS3046
MAN-LHR
31st March 2013
A320-200 / EI-DEO Queen of the Cobbles
Seat: 5F / Economy
Scheduled: 07:35/08:45
Off Stand: 07:40
On Stand: 08:38

The cabin was very clean and tidy, as expected. Certainly better than the BA cabin from yesterday, although after a year or so I guess they will end up a little grubby as any aircraft in service for any length of time would.

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Decent amount of legroom

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Interesting joint EI/VS branded safety cards

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During boarding, my would be seat mate, another V-flyer said hello and mentioned that he had been moved to the back – interesting as I ended up having a row of three to myself, so couldn’t see any reason for him to be moved.

Soon after everybody was onboard, a ‘photographer’ needed a pic of everybody waving. I use the term photographer loosely as I had a better camera than him so highly doubt the picture will be seen in any mainstream publications any time soon. The official looking guy from VS also took a picture on his phone, although that was more obviously for personal use.

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Gathering to wave us off

Everybody was welcomed onboard this inaugural flight given a flight time of 35 minutes and we pushed back at 7:40 making a fast taxi over to 05L. During this time the captain welcomed everybody onboard this Virgin Atlantic Little Red flight and that if anybody wanted to visit the flight deck once we had landed they were more than welcome.

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Little Red takes to the skies!

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Flying back past MAN

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Once airborne, the crew were a little slow at starting the service compared to BA – I was actually starting to wonder if there would be time for any service. Eventually it did start, just as descent started. Bit of a rethink regarding the service needed there I think. One of the crew even said she was praying for a hold!

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The thought is there, but the practice needs to be polished a bit.

And unsurprisingly, we were put into a hold for ten minutes. Although that still didn’t help the crew out much as just before final descent an announcement was made apologizing to those who weren’t served. After a few laps in the hold, we were down onto 09L and made the short taxi over to T1. Along the way there were quite a few airport workers watching and taking pictures – more than on my Dreamliner flights in December actually. Disappointingly there wasn’t a water cannon salute.

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Note the new AA 773 parked at T3

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Once on stand there was a bit of a wait to disembark, and I had a brief chat to fellow a.netter Slinky09 (who was sat behind me) – who agreed that the bacon rolls plan would never work on a flight of this length. Around five minutes or so later, it was off through T1 and on to the coach home.

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Good looking desk for the launch.

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V-flyers heading off into the sunset… or more likely the pub!

So how would I compare the two then? Well BA were good and well polished, although that’s to be expected as they have been doing these short flights for a very long time so have had plenty of practice. VS also have a strong product, although there were a few teething issues – such as the self serve check in kiosks not working, toilets overflowing and not having enough time to complete the on board service. I’m led to believe a faulty oven was a factor in that though, so it would be interesting to see how they perform when everything is running smoothly. No doubt on the longer runs up to Scotland the service will be fine, but on a 30 odd minute hop it was all just a bit too rushed. The crew didn’t show they were struggling at any point though and stayed professional throughout.

On the whole I think I would say I enjoyed the Virgin flight more – and I would be more tempted to use them again before British Airways, just to see how the service runs once its bedded in.

British Airways/Titan | Boeing 767 | LHR-LCA | Club Europe

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

This trip came about after reading a report by PalmJet ( Going Retro, Chasing The Sun: BA B763 To Cyprus (by palmjet May 21 2012 in Trip Reports) ) earlier in the year. I had a rough plan of where I wanted to go throughout the year – roughly one trip a month, but I was struggling to think of somewhere to go in December. I considered Manchester but considering the month the proposed trip was due to take place, this wasn’t the most attractive option. Also the fact I had already made my annual trip made this only an option if I was really stuck. Luckily, PalmJet’s report provided the inspiration I needed and my December schedule was set. I would later add another trip for December, but that’s a story for another time.

There were quite a few options to get my to Cyprus. EasyJet was the cheapest, however spending in the region of five hours on one didn’t appeal too much. Same goes for Monarch, although the A300 was attractive. The third option was Aegean, however their prices were ridiculous! The timings weren’t great either.

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So the final option was the tried and tested British Airways. The widebody appealed, but more attractive was the fact if I flew in Club Europe I’d reach the Bronze tier of their executive club. After coming so close to trying out the BA 767 on my trip to Madrid in October, I was later glad I selected this option. I was also close to booking a 767 flight to Frankfurt earlier in the year until I realized that particular flight left Heathrow earlier than the first coach could get me there.

When the time came to book, I decided to use the British Airways App on my phone, as it seemed a pretty novel way of booking a flight. The process went much better than expected – My PNR wasn’t immediately available, however in the bookings section of the app, everything was there and in the end I received the eticket receipt a few hours later.

Job done – with ease.

Next up was a hotel. I saw explored a few options, but once again I turned to PalmJets report for inspiration and booked the Flamingo Beach Hotel, just a few minutes from the airport for a bargain price of £23 a night.

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Upon arriving at work the morning before departure, I was pretty glad that I would soon be somewhere a bit warmer!

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Transfer to LHR was the usual National Express coach from my local station. I had actually booked the 06:20 coach, but I later realised that there was one at 05:50. I decided to try my luck with the earlier one and after a bit of a triple take at my ticket I was let on to the earlier one without any questions.

Arrival at the central station was at 06:30, and I headed off to the BA check in area in T3, which was a new experience for me. Not anywhere near as Bling as the VS check in area, but that was to be expected really.

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As I’d had a good look round T3 back in September, I made my way straight to the lounge. The fast track security was a little busy, bust as one of the operators saw me with liquids/iPad etc. in hand they signaled me to go to the front and I was through in seconds – see people that’s how its done – Prepare before you get to the x-ray machine and its quicker for everybody! And the advantage of using fast track was that I wasn’t directed through the duty free shop straight after – just through some non descript corridor between shops.

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Pretty much where the non VS fast track comes out

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The lounge wasn’t too bad – and had some good views too although it was still a bit dark outside. The breakfast offerings were better than at Gatwick too.

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Breakfast

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Pretty good business centre

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Eventually I found a comfortable sofa where I could watch TV….

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Keep a check on my flight…

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And follow what was going on outside, without moving. Perfect!

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At 07:50 it was time to head down to gate 24B – via Dixons to look for a new lens cap as mine had decided to wedge itself into my UV filter, rendering both useless.

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Once into the holding pen, it looked like G-BZHB would be doing the honours. I’d sat on this one before, but didn’t actually get to fly on it ( Cancellations, Widebodies And Iberia LHR-MAD-LHR (by jwhite9185 Oct 17 2012 in Trip Reports) ). At least now there was no grey areas in the flight log!

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G-BZHB with a fresh dose of de icer.

As per usual, as soon as the bus turned up, everybody decided they would get to their destination just that bit quicker if they formed a nice long queue at the exit door.

Boarding was called at 08:15, and as usual everybody was travelling in Club Europe. One guy shoved his way past me – “Erm excuse me?!” He came back with “I’m in business class” – to which I replied, “yeah, so am I!” He then backed off and let me go ahead – a little annoying that he just assumed I was in economy, however if the ground crew enforced the boarding rules, it wouldn’t have been an issue. There was a brief wait on the bus while the driver checked with the crew if we were ok to board, but a few moments later he re appeared and said he had bribed them with newspapers and we were all let on.

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BA662
LHR-LCA
7th December 2012
767-336ER/G-BZHB
Seat: 8F / Club Europe
Scheduled: 08:40/15:10
Off Stand: 08:51
On Stand: 15:12

At the door, I was welcomed by name and took my assigned seat of 8K.

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First time I’ve had an amenity kit on an intra Europe flight.

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Not much of a view to be had thanks to all the de icing.

During boarding, I asked if I had a seatmate and they said there were only 20 passengers booked into club, so even if there was there would be an opportunity to move. He also mentioned that this aircraft had just come out of maintenance that morning as it was getting a cabin refurb – hmm not too sure about that as it had the new cabin on my previous encounter with this jet back in October.

The captain announced a bit of a delay due to a passenger not showing up, but due to a reasonable flying time of 4 hours, we should still arrive on time. He also said we had a long ish “drive” out to the runway. Love how the BA flight crew use non-technical terms, after the crew on my previous flight mentioned the “Southwesty” runway!

I was having a slight feeling of déjà vu at this point… G-BZHB – check. Club Europe – check. Specifically chosen flight for the 767 – check. Hopefully the pitot heater (and all the other parts for that matter) stay fully functioning this time.

During boarding, the cabin crew came around offering magazines, and then menus and hot towels.

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The Menu consisted of:

Chilled fruit Juice
Fresh fruit appetizer
Blueberry birchermuseli

Traditional English breakfast
or
Omelette with mozzarella and basil pesto
or
Selection of could cuts and cheese

Selection of warm pastries and rolls
Choice of tea or coffee

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Once everybody was on board, pushback commenced and we made our way out to runway 27L. There was a bit of a wait outside the new T2 area for around 10 minutes or so, but once we got underway again, we didn’t stop and were straight up into the air at 09:15.

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Once again a friend of mine tracked my progress on FlightRadar24

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Shortly after takeoff the entertainment service began

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Followed shortly after by quite a few rounds of breakfast, dished up by the once again friendly and attentive crew. Whilst the main course was cooking, one of the crewmembers came around offering refills of drinks – very pro active. I opted for another tea, and a few moments later he returned with a fresh cup. There was a bit too much milk in it for my liking, but can’t fault the personalized service one bit.

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More bread sir? Sure!

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How about another cup of tea?

Although that final cup of tea had to go down pretty fast as the ride got slightly rough after!

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Not too much spilt

Once the many rounds of breakfast had finished, and the bumps had stopped, it was time to watch the world go by for a bit. It looked pretty cold over most of Europe.

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Just after the movie started, there was a slight heart in mouth moment. The crew came over the PA and started off with “unfortunately there’s been a slight problem…” Uh oh, not again. Luckily the slight problem was that the wrong movie had been loaded and it now wouldn’t be the advertised selection. Phew!

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the views over the Alps weren’t quite as good as on my MXP-ZRH trip

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Unfortunately there wasn’t an awful lot to be seen outside during the latter stages of the flight.

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After this, I decided to read Gabriel’s final part of his Asia trip ( Asia 10: Take Me Home Saudia! DEL-RUH-LHR B777 (by gabrielchew Dec 5 2012 in Trip Reports) )

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Catch up with a bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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And finally listen to a bit of music

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Around an hour or so before landing, the rolling bar was brought round. Thought I’d try some champagne as it was on the house!

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After all the liquids I had taken on during the flight, I headed down the back to use the washroom, taking a couple of pics of the new economy cabin. And unusually for me, I grabbed a pic of the refurbished washroom too.

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Not too busy today

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The next land we would see would be Cyprus

Around 20 minutes before landing the first officer came over the PA giving in update, stating that “he could see a few potholes out the windscreen”, and that he expected arrival pretty much on time. Descent was made to the North of the airport then a pretty sharp right turn over the sea just passing Larnaca and on to finals.

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Potholes?

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Touchdown was at just before 15:10 local and a few minutes later we were on stand alongside an Austrian A321. Due to the dual jet bridge, Club Europe disembarked within a couple of minutes, and then it was off to passport control.

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Once the formalities had been completed, it was out to the shambles that was a taxi rank, with drivers pretty much fighting over my custom… Until they found out I was only going about a mile or so. I eventually found a driver willing to take me on the 10 minute or so journey for €15. Pricey, but the only option available.

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A few moments later I was at the Flamingo Beach Hotel. I had previously asked PalmJet what his opinions were on the place – he said good but basic. I have to say I’m in agreement, but I did like the fact I was in my room within 30 minutes of landing!

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So do I go left or right?

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Not bad for the price I guess.

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Good view

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Better scenery!

The next couple of hours were spent relaxing on the balcony. Despite my numerous trips this year, they’ve all been pretty rushed affairs so I was treating this as my holiday.

Eventually I did venture down into Larnaca to grab some dinner. It was around a 30 minute walk along a dark road that was undergoing maintenance. Not the best of experiences but at least it was flat and straight.

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The following morning I made my way back into Larnaca along the sea to catch a bus to Nicosia.

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Along the way I spotted a couple of arrivals into LCA.

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And once I arrived in Larnaca, I saw a couple of photo opportunities.

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Whist waiting for the (hour late) bus I received the following message.

Oh. Interesting. So once again it would seem a planned trip on a Speedbird 767 had gone out the window.

Onwards to Nicosia however. After the 11am bus hadn’t shown up by 11:30 I was starting to think of other options. I went for a brief wonder around Larnaca and by pure chance I happened to be passing the bus stop again at around 12:00 and spotted a bus heading for Nicosia. What an interesting place – glad I made it now! Pretty much the moment I stepped off the bus I had somebody trying to flog me a 2 hour guided tour of the city for just €20. Hmmm no thanks sounds a little too good to be true. I prefer exploring places on my terms anyway. In the southern part of the city, it could have been any town in the UK really. All the usual shops etc. and an observation deck at the top of Debenhams, which cost just €2 to enter.

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Ledra Palace Hotel – although no longer a hotel.

After which I made my way down to the border crossing to the Northern part.

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What a difference a few metres make. From being in relatively modern surroundings 10 seconds or so earlier, to being in a pretty run down area was a bit of an eye opener to say the least. I spent an interesting couple of hours or so looking around though.

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This used to be a cathedral until the takeover. Now it’s a mosque.

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Abandoned shopping centre

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You don’t have to tell me twice…

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Interesting market

On the way out, I asked for one last stamp in my soon to be retired passport.

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And I got to keep my visa

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It was then a bit of a rushed walk for the bus. As much as I found Nicosia an interesting place, I’m not sure I could have spent another three hours there until the next bus back to Larnaca.

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More oranges in winter

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During the bus ride back, I tried to check in online for my flight, however somewhat unsurprisingly this was a no go.

I received a phone call from the local British Airways office a few moments later, confirming the aircraft change and that they didn’t know the reason. I did however – a BA 767 had gone tech in EDI the previous day so they were one short. They did however state that I would receive the full Club service, just in an economy seat – so the standard Club Europe service? This was also confirmed via twitter after I’d mentioned it earlier in the day. Although they said a similar thing when I was shoved on to Iberia a couple of months back… more on that later though.

After the bus arrived back in Larnaca (and not a moment too soon – the guy sat opposite threw up everywhere and it stunk), I went for a brief wonder but nothing much took my fancy. Despite my internal clock telling me it was only just past 3pm the local time was 5pm and it was dark and starting to get a little chilly. So I reluctantly made the 30 minute or so walk back to the hotel.

When I arrived, I sat out on the balcony and watched a few of the arrivals, ate the dinner I had leftover from last night and read a magazine.

Olympic casting a lot of light on the sea.

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Feast for one!

Sunday morning was spent wondering the beach and catching the very few arrivals into LCA. A couple of Cyprus Airways A320’s, an Olympic A319, one Aegean A320 and the token Emirates A340 were pretty much it for the morning bar from a couple of private Cessna’s. No doubt this was the quiet season!

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That’s what we like to hear!

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First time I’d seen this livery in the flesh – quite like it actually.

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This was the one I was waiting for.

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After which I wondered round to the salt lake, before heading back to the hotel again.

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Hotel from the beach

Once back at the hotel, I checked the inbound status of my flight to try and see what type it would be, although all I could really find out was that it was delayed and due to arrive into LCA approx. 5 mins before my flight was due to due to depart.

After checking out of the hotel, I sat on the beach for a while before the hotel arranged to take me back to the airport at 13:00, again for €15 although I’m not totally sure this was above board – I suspect that money went straight into the drivers pocket as no mention was made of this at reception.

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Updating the TR on the beach!

Whilst on the beach, I decided to do another check on my flight, and a delayed departure now seemed inevitable

Upon arriving at the airport, I found that check in was yet to open, so I took the opportunity to have a look at the departure area, used the free Wi-Fi to check what type was operating my flight and watched an Aeroflot A321 arrive. Shame it wasn’t the IL96.

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G-POWD it is then.

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When check in finally did open, it was quite a drawn out process – 25 minutes in total – due to the fact I was the first person booked into club Europe to be checked in. I guess the hold up was understandable though. They were doing their best, although unfortunately not everybody saw it that way. Personally I don’t see the point in shouting at screaming at somebody when they’re doing everything within their control. In the end, I was treated far better as I was understanding about the situation, and they blocked the seat next to me. And the reason for the delay – all passengers booked into Club Europe got a rather fancy BA branded cash card pre loaded with £50/€60 as a gesture of good will. Also included was a letter with instructions on how to claim back the difference in price between an economy and Club fare. Worth waiting 25 minutes for in my opinion. The ground crew were very helpful throughout the process and even told me to draw the cash out from the card in one go as I’d be charged after that. Although as I mentioned, as I was one of the few people who weren’t giving them issues, I’d imagine they would want to be kept busy with me rather then being given abuse by the others. I left with a bit of a haul of paperwork.

Following this was security – where unfortunately I did get a little angry. My bag was singled out for a search where the frankly quite rude security officer proceeded to unpack my entire bag, literally throwing my stuff into a tray – camera and iPad included then shoving it back at me because they couldn’t be bothered to repack everything. Thanks. I did try and ask them to be a little more careful but they conveniently didn’t speak any English and wondered off once they had finished.

After this it was a brief look airside before heading for the lounge.

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It was a little disappointing but pretty much as expected from a third party lounge. But still better than the one in Nice.

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The only English newspaper available… I didn’t bother.

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Round 1

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LH to MUC

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Round 2

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And the finale.

This would be where I’d spend the next few hours until my flight was ready for boarding.

Around the time my plane was due to arrive, I headed outside on to the terrace to grab a few pics.

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Pretty noisy little jet

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Look what just flew overhead…

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And then touchdown.

Then once inside, I grabbed a coffee and surfed the net. Then upon glancing up at the fid, I got a bit of a shock.

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Luckily this was a false alarm, as a few moments later a porter arrived to take another passenger down to the gate. I asked him what was going on and he said I had plenty of time – I didn’t take any chances though I made my way down.

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Boarding was announced at 17:00 and as usual it was chaos. Myself and another older guy who had been at check in and the lounge with me stood near the front of the queue. He told me to make sure I got on before that lot – yeah-fat chance I replied! By this time another few people from the lounge had appeared and formed a bit of a blockade! Although that still didn’t stop many people from shoving their way through, claiming they were entitled to preboarding due to medical conditions. They looked fine to me though.

This was one of the very few times I was heading down a jet bridge and had almost no idea what to expect when I got to the other end.

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BA663
LCA-LHR
9th December 2012
767-36NER / G-POWD
Seat: 4G / Economy
Scheduled: 16:25/19:40
Off: 17:45
On: 20:44

Once onboard, the cabin seemed pretty modern and clean although a little cramped. Basically your typical charter jet. The width of the seat wasn’t brilliant, but as I had no seatmate this wasn’t a problem as I could put the armrest up – after departure of course! And the legroom was quite poor – I’m not the tallest person by a long shot, yet when I put the seat into recline my knees were touching the seat in front. Wouldn’t want to go trans Atlantic on this one.

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Standard legroom

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Reclined legroom (later in the flight)

One major advantage of this jet over the BA machine though

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At 17:25 the captain introduced himself and Titan airways, giving a brief history of the airline and saying that our flight time will 4 hours and 50 minutes and that due to a headwind the first hour and a half of the flight would be a bit on the bumpy side. He also mentioned a further delay due to missing our slot so we now wouldn’t be leaving until 52 minutes past the hour. A couple of minutes later he was back on saying that he had forgotten to mention a slightly different startup procedure – due to the APU not working one engine would have to be started on the stand. That would explain why it was uncomfortably hot onboard.

I noticed quite a few BA crew on board – I’m assuming they were due to operate the original planned aircraft back to LHR tonight.

Pushback came at 17:45 and we made our way out to the runway, departing at 17:55. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to be seen due to the darkness and the low cloud cover. Shortly after takeoff the IFE was switched on. Although due to BA not providing Titan with any headsets only those with their own could use it. I chose the skymap.

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The drinks service then began.

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About the only thing BA related so far were the nuts.

The only other source of entertainment at this point was watching a thunderstorm over Greece.

Then it was the meal service – to be honest this was a little disappointing. Even in Economy I’d have expected a little more on a nearly 5-hour sector. So much for getting the full Club Europe service onboard.

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A duck wrap

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And a cup of…well nothing.

Luckily I still had some crisps that I’d borrowed from the lounge in LHR – so I didn’t starve.

Around halfway through the flight, I decided to go for a walk down the back. Only for the seatbelt sign to be switched in the moment I reach the rear galley – typical! The load seemed around 50%.

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Taken on my way back to my seat.

As I returned to my seat, we passed Zagreb.

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Interesting how this one has rounder windows than the BA example.

The seatbelt signs were then switched on again a few moments later – the captain made an announcement about the turbulence but as I was in the front galley talking Titan with one of the cabin crew I didn’t really get to hear it, although I think the gist was that we were climbing above the bad weather. Annoying because we were having a good chat and I was finding the seat a bit uncomfortable by now.

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Passing Brussels

At 20:05, after an uncomfortable few hours it was time to descend into London. Seemed as if we had left it a little late as the speedbrakes were deployed for much of the descent. We approached over London and as it was a clear night I had a pretty good view.

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Unusually there was no holding this evening and we were straight in on runway 27L, touching down just after 20:35.

Then it was a pretty speedy taxi over to T3, although at first we appeared to be heading for T5 – I wondered for a second if the flight deck had realized this flight was a T3 flight – or that we would even park at a remote T5 stand and be bussed to T3 so that the aircraft can be in the right place for its next mission. But we bypassed T5 and parked on one of the remote T3 stands.

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The second best livery out there – after Germanwings

After which it was on to a bus and through the corridors of a quiet Terminal 3.

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After being bussed to the terminal, I figured if I got a move on I might just be able to catch the 21:15 coach, so all thoughts then turned to making a speedy transition through immigration, T3 arrivals and the tunnel over to the Central bus station. And I made it with just a few moments to spare!

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And so brings to an end my penultimate trip of 2012. Despite the trip on the rare bird home, I think I would still rather had flown BA club. I don’t ever remember being so uncomfortable on a plane before. The plus side was that BA were very accommodating regarding the change of the aircraft. The €60 voucher was a decent gesture of goodwill although despite the letter stating I should visit ba.com to claim the refund I ended up having to phone them as the website only really related to either cancelled or delayed flights, of which mine was neither.

British Airways | B734/E190 | LGW-AGP-LCY | Club Europe/Euro Traveller

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

After reading reports from both Gabriel and Suryo on airliners.net almost a year ago, I decided that Malaga seemed to be a pretty good destination to visit during the UK’s dark winter months – Sunlight, Beaches and an interesting city. I had originally wanted to go around March of this year, but the prices ended up being higher than my other planned trip at the time, so I headed off to Frankfurt instead. I still wanted to visit the Spanish city though, so I monitored the prices over the following months. Then one rainy Saturday in June, I was messing about with flight dates, prices etc. on ba.com and saw that if I went midweek in November the prices came down to a more reasonable £106.

It said on the site that there were only 5 seats left at the price for the outbound sector so without much delay I booked. I was quite happy with this, as it was the cheapest I’d managed to get a flight for! The only downside was that the flight would depart LGW at 07:40, so unless I wanted to catch a train from my local station at 04:00 I’d be staying the night at LGW.

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Not a major problem as I’d managed to get such a good deal on the flights and a reasonable deal on the Barceló Malaga hotel at the station.

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A couple of days after I returned from my trip to Madrid, I was feeling impressed with what I had experienced on the ground, and disappointed with what I had missed out on in the air. As BA had one of their standard Club Europe special offers on, I decided to upgrade.

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Check in was done via the BA mobile app 24 hours before departure:

I was initially allocated seat 2A, but as it appeared I had a seatmate, I chose to move to 5A instead.

Unusually for me, I set off for the airport the night before departure and due to this I had no schedule to keep to. I decided to catch the train that went via Clapham Junction as I preferred this route over the one that goes through Guildford.

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In hindsight maybe I should have taken the train through Guildford. There were a lot of problems at Clapham junction and an hour’s journey ended up taking nearly 2. Although going by my last 2 trips, I’d be happy of this to be my now traditional delay!

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Once at a very quiet Gatwick, I made my way over to the hotel. The route ended up going through the car park, which wasn’t what I was expecting, especially from a Hilton, but once through the front doors it was perfectly acceptable.

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The following morning, my alarm went off at 05:00, and at 05:20 I made my way over to the North terminal via the transit system.

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The check in area was pretty quiet as expected and I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass from a very chatty and helpful check in agent. She went the extra mile and invited me to use the fast track security and asking if I had been to the lounge before. After I said I’d only been to the one at LHR, she gave me directions on how to find it once through security. Once again excellent customer service from BA.

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Once through security, I pretty much headed straight for the lounge, as the terminal seemed pretty much the standard affair. It had been 21 years since I last travelled from the North terminal and I must admit I didn’t recognize any of it really, except the water fountain that has now dried up.

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I spent the next hour or so reading the newspapers on offer, abusing the free Wi-Fi, which didn’t work too well, grazing on the poor selection of food and trying to see what was happening outside. But as it was dark, this was a little difficult.

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My choice of entertainment for the day ahead

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About the best of the food offering’s

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The only hot food on offer

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I must admit I was a little disappointed with the F&B offerings in this lounge. A few slices of toast and some beans were about the only hot food on offer and the rest were pastries or cereal. I had better in the No1 lounge back in April. The major plus side though was that it was nice and quiet. If BA could take the catering from the T5 lounge and put it into the LGW one, it would be perfect.

Boarding was announced at 07:10 from gate 53. I grabbed my bag and made the short walk down to the gate. There was a separate lane for Club, BA Gold/Silver cardholders however it was sealed off.

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When I got to the gate I noticed one of the flight crew sat at the gate. So unless he was just deadheading, we wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Turns out he was deadheading as boarding was called on time at 07:20. Despite being a jetbridge, an EasyJet A319 was using it, and our 737 was parked alongside – the ground crew mentioned this and told people to be careful on the wet tarmac.

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BA2712
LGW-AGP
20th November 2012
737-436/G-DOCS
Seat: 5A / Club Europe
Scheduled: 07:40/11:30
Off: 07:51
On: 11:45

Funny how there seemed to be a lot of people traveling in Club Europe when boarding was called, however once onboard there were only 11 passengers in the Club cabin. There seemed to be quite a few people heading towards the back though.

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Legroom didn’t seem that great, however I don’t remember it being too brilliant the last time I travelled on a BA 737 back in 2001 either. It wasn’t awful, I’d just had better. The cabin also seemed a little worn but I was expecting that really. Nothing major though – just well used. The only thing that was pretty poor that I later found out was the water pressure in the front washroom. To wash your hands, you had to hold either the blue or red button down, and even then it was a poor trickle that came out.

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Our neighbor that was hogging the jetbridge

The flight crew came over the PA and made the usual announcements, mentioning the flight time was expected to be 2h25 and that there were pretty good flying conditions.

There were 3 cabin crew on board: one quite young and friendly, one who I never saw and the purser who seemed like they couldn’t crack a smile if their life depended on it.

Pushback was delayed due to a couple of late passengers – the captain announcing that he was still deciding if they were going to travel or not. One of my pet hates is lateness and when I heard this announcement my first thought was “sod the potential delay, throw them off – that’ll teach them!” Around 5 minutes later they turned up and sat themselves down in seats 1D and F.

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Must nearly be time to go.

A few moments later we pushed back. Once we did set off it was over to runway 26L – the first time I had departed from that runway since 2002. During the taxi, I noticed the purser jump up from their seat and tell Mr. 1F to put his seat in the upright position – So he turns up late, then continues to annoy the crew by reclining his seat before takeoff.

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As we were running a little late, we got to push our way to the front of the queue. On takeoff, just before 08:10, we went past the BA hangars, where there was quite a mix outside – an open skies 757, a Cityflyer E190 and a mainline 767.

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This was pretty much the last I would see of the UK today.

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Due to the low cloud cover, I didn’t get to see much. Around a minute after takeoff Mr. 1D decided he was bored and wanted his laptop – which meant another telling off from the purser. Not that he paid much attention as he continued to fiddle with his bag until he retrieved his laptop and then sat down again. I noticed a gold executive club tag on one of their bags, so they weren’t new to flying… they obviously just didn’t care!

Once the crew were released for duty, the hot towels were handed out. I remember back in the day, this was standard practice across all classes. Now it seems to only be reserved for premium passengers.

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There still wasn’t much to be seen outside.

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Around 20 minutes after takeoff, breakfast was served, still without a smile. It was actually pretty good – it didn’t have a microwaved taste to it at all, although presentation was a bit lacking compared to the BD breakfast I had earlier in the year.

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During breakfast, the first officer made a quick update, saying that we had reached our cruising altitude of 35,000 ft., we were due to land in Malaga at 11:45 local and that we were given an odd routing over Paris, Toulouse and the Pyrenees rather than straight over the Bay of Biscay.

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The clouds had started clearing slightly once we had crossed into France

Once the trays were cleared, I turned to fellow trip reporter adamspotter (Brendan) for a bit of entertainment.

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Or at least that was the theory. The 2 older guys sat in the row behind were talking and laughing very loudly, making it pretty difficult to concentrate on reading. At least I wasn’t trying to sleep, like the deadheading captain who was sat opposite.

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After finally managing to read Brendan’s interesting report on his trip from RTM to MUC, I made an attempt to chat to the not so friendly purser. I asked about the fate of the 737’s but the only reply I got was “who knows”. She did mention that a couple of the ex BMI Airbuses might be coming over to LGW, but she was then distracted by and economy passenger trying to use the Club Europe toilet. I decided to cut my losses and return to my seat.

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A short while later we crossed they Pyrenees

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Not bad, but nowhere near as good as the view of the Alps I had on my previous trip!

The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. The purser gave out glasses of water, which was a nice touch though

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There were a few views of various cities down below.

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Alicante

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I had a look through the new look high life magazine to kill some time. There wasn’t much of interest though, apart from an interview with a 777 first officer.

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Then it was time to descend at 11:17 local. Around 30 minutes before landing the captain came over the PA giving an update of our progress and saying that we would be landing on the southwesty runway (technical term?!) and that the weather was pretty good and 14 degrees. The routing took us out to sea before making a 180-degree turn to line us up with the runway. I noticed that the landing gear was extended very early – maybe around 5 minutes before touchdown. Of note, there was a Spanish woman with a baby in the cabin, who spent the entire flight wondering backwards and forwards, not even stopping during the meal service. Why pay extra for Club Europe, then not sit in the seat or eat the meal?! Might as well go in economy – least there would of been a bit further to walk!

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Touchdown was just before 11:45, and we made a short taxi over to the terminal. I noticed we were being guided in by a follow me van. Not noticed this before, but seemed to be common practice in AGP?

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Shortly after we arrived on stand and it was out through quite an old looking part of the airport. During disembarking, the guys behind had a brief chat with the deadheading captain. Turns out he had flown in from BGI that morning and was off to finalize buying a property.

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I saw another couple of visitors from the UK/Ireland along the way. The MON landed just after us – I was also unaware that there were any MON A321’s were in the new livery. I’d get a few more pics of this one a bit later.

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Passport control was the easiest I’d ever experienced – I went to give the officer my passport and he just waved me throughout without even taking it off me… Fair enough. After that it was out into arrivals.

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Blue skies – Not experienced this in November for quite a few years!

Then I took a walk out to the aviation museum that was around 15/20 minutes away.

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What a difference a couple of hours make

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I was welcomed in by a friendly guy, and spent a good couple of hours or so looking around and watching the movements. I know Gabriel covered the museum in his report, so hopefully I haven’t duplicated too much.

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The original terminal at AGP

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After I had seen the inside of the museum, I decided to wait around to watch the plane that brought me to AGP depart back to LGW from the viewing terrace.

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After around an hour or so, the BA flight hadn’t shown up so I made the walk back to the terminal to grab a bite to eat as there wasn’t a huge amount of movements.

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The menu showed a nice looking baguette – so I was a little disappointed with this!

After lunch I made my way to the hotel via the train. On my way I saw a departure board – looks like the return BA flight to LGW was having some problems.

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New looking station at AGP

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The train took around 10 minutes or so to reach the city, and it was straight to the hotel that was located at Maria Zambrano Station

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View from my room

I then made use of the Wi-Fi to check in for my return flight tomorrow.

I also had a look at what was going on with the return flight to LGW. Looked as if it was having a few issues. Glad the delay came after I had got to my destination for once!

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Once I had done this, I made my way out to see the city.

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Not seen a slide in a hotel before!

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One of the locals

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Another local – keeping a close eye on a nearby dog.

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One for Philip!

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Looking busy overhead

I then made my way down to the Port/Marina to grab some dinner and some more pics.

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This entire meal was only €2 more than the sandwich I had at the airport!

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Hotel by night

Once I returned from a tiring walk around the city, I watched a bit of TV, surfed the net on my iPad and got an early night. I’m not used to getting to my destination early enough to get a good look around the city when I arrive!

The following morning, I headed off in the direction of the beach, although I wouldn’t really call it a beach myself…

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And on the way back I grabbed some breakfast. They seem to serve chips with everything out here – guess that’s what all the British holidaymakers want!

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I spent the final hour in my hotel reading the paper.

At just before midday, I made my way downstairs to the train station to head back to the airport.

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Compare this to the price of the ticket from LCY to Waterloo a bit later…

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Once at the airport, I made my way up to check in to get a boarding pass.

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I saw a couple of interesting things along the way

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Once again, the LGW flight had a delay.

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Once at check in I noticed that Iberia handled BA here. And it was a similar situation to in Madrid last month – ignored for a good couple of minutes then within 2 seconds of reaching the desk practically ignored due to there being a seemingly important phone call that required more attention than I did.

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There didn’t appear to be a huge amount landside so I headed through security. As usual there were plenty of people (mainly Brits) who didn’t seem to think all the rules applied to them. But as it wasn’t busy I was still thorough within a couple of minutes, despite the security agent wanting to take a closer look at my phone that was in my bag.

As my gate wasn’t due to be announced for another 45 minutes, and my breakfast left me feeling pretty thirsty I grabbed a Starbucks.

I know a lot of people are pretty upset with them at the moment due to them not paying any tax in the UK, but

1: This is Spain and;
2: I don’t care!

After that I went for a wonder, before heading off in the direction of gate C34

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Whilst on my travels I saw the delayed flight from LGW arrive, along with a couple of others.

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And then I saw my ride back to LCY arrive

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After this I headed through to gate C34, although I wish I hadn’t bothered so soon, as there was also an EasyJet and the BA flight to contend with.

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Annoyingly, there were a group of about 4-6 lads on the flight who thought that the entire airport were interested in what they were talking about… Shut up!! Seemed as if this flight would be slightly full.

Boarding was announced at just past 14:00 for rows 1-5. But of course, nobody paid any attention to this, much to the annoyance of the ground staff. Eventually they went though a selection of people in line checking boarding passes and anybody who didn’t have the correct one was firmly told to sit down! Wish they could take such a stance at every airport.

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BA8488
AGP-LCY
21st November 2012
E-190 G-LCYO
Seat: 18A / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 14:20/16:00
Off: 14:23
On: 15:57

Once on board, there were quite a few announcements saying that the flight was completely full. The captain also announced a flight time of 2hours 25 minutes and that we would be cruising at 38,000 ft.

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I did have a seatmate – one that thought the armrest was his and couldn’t sit still for more than 20 seconds – until he fell asleep, taking up even more of my space.

The legroom on this E190 was quite a bit better than the E170 that brought me back from Frankfurt earlier in the year.

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Spot the mistake!

Pushback was at 14:23 and we made our way out to the runway. Along the way we passed another stricken BA 737 – what’s going on with these jets?!

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Once at the runway there was a bit of a wait for a landing Norwegian 737, but once that had passed we were off at approx. 14:37 local.

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After departure it clouded over quite a bit, so the views weren’t that great.

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Shortly after, the meal service began. It was more than I was expecting to be honest. The crew of 2 on this flight were generally friendly. When asked my choice of sandwich, which was chicken and tuna or cheese and egg, I replied that I’d take whatever they had most of – this was met with a laugh and a reply of “we’ve got plenty of both!” I ended up with the chicken and tuna, although as they said they had plenty of both I should have asked for both. Then it was around a 15 minute wait for a drink which was a little annoying but no major deal really – its not like I had to be anywhere!

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Trying to be Swiss?

The rest of the flight was uneventful. The previously mentioned lads kept pestering the younger Purser and ringing the call bell every 2 minutes until the other crewmember told them to “pack it in”.

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I kept myself amused by watching videos on my iPad and reading one of Hannah’s (Infodesk) trip reports until the engines spooled back at 15:12 UK time, and then descent started properly at 15:19. So unfortunately the reading of the trip report only got half way through, as things on this flight were about to get interesting again!

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The captain once again came over the PA, giving an update on the status of the flight, saying that we were headed for Beachy head before heading North and saying that due to a front over London he expected a rough ride into LCY.

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After passing the South coast and heading North the weather suddenly got very British. We were into some pretty heavy cloud, with quite a bit of turbulence. Coupled with the speedbrakes being deployed and the landing gear being lowered quite early – just as we passed the Dartford crossing – It seemed like the flight crew were fighting this one al the way down to the ground. Yet it was still a pretty smooth landing – much less of a hit than my last landing at LCY that was for sure!

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On disembarking I had a quick chat with the crew. Turned out that the cabin crew were Edinburgh based and that they had to get back there after this flight, and the flight crew were done for the day.

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I did get a bit moaned at on the tarmac, although not for taking pictures. Instead it was for hanging around at the crossing for a fuel truck – he insisted it would stop, however I didn’t fancy playing chicken.

Then it was off through LCY – which was hassle free. After this it was on to the DLR and the underground to Waterloo.

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Once at Waterloo, I decided to head out to the river to grab a couple of pictures. I had wanted to get off at London Bridge an walk from there but that station was closed due to a fire alert.

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Then it was on to the train for the 20 minute journey home.

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British Airways | A319/E170 | LHR-FRA-LCY | Euro Traveller

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Maps generated by the
Great Circle Mapper –
copyright © Karl L. Swartz

I guess the story starts in January 2012. I was looking through the trip reports on here and thinking that I like the idea of seeing more of the world. Then it suddenly struck me that there wasn’t anything actually stopping me! Having not set foot on a plane since my trip to MCO in 2010, jetting off seemed like a good idea. According to my flight diary the last time I didn’t fly for a whole year was 2005 – and I was unemployed then so had a fairly good excuse! The 2 destinations that appealed to me most were Frankfurt and Malaga. I priced up both with BA and the prices seemed similar, as were hotel prices. I fired off an email to GabrielChew to see what his recommendations were as he had visited both fairly recently. I got a pretty rapid response and Malaga seemed the way to go. Unfortunately, as seems to be the law, when I actually came to book the flights a couple of days later the prices had shot up. Malaga more so than Frankfurt so that was put on hold for the time being and I looked to go to Frankfurt instead. I noticed that the 767 would operate the 07:00 flight and liked the idea of that, but with the earliest coach getting me to T5 at 06:50, it was just too tight. Wanting to go on something different to the usual A32x, I remembered something else that GabrielChew mentioned in his email – that there’s a BA Cityjet flight on the E-Jet from FRA to LCY. A new a/c type and new airport appealed to me and with decent times and prices on the LCY flight, I selected this option.

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I used British Airways’ mobile check in service 24 hours before departure. To be honest, I didn’t find it that great. I selected 0 bags to check in and as I had already pre booked my seats, my selection was there too. However, I decided to look at the seat map to get an idea as to how full the flight was, and this is where the process came to a sudden end. The next page I saw said that online check in wasn’t available for this flight and I should call the airline to confirm the flight was still operating. I exited the browser part of the app and went back to the home screen to try again and this time I was met with my mobile boarding pass. I double-checked on ba.com and this confirmed I had infact checked in, although now they seem to think I’m checking in 1 bag. Seems to me like the app had submitted all the default options and shown me something completely different.

I woke up at 5:30 – early for some but no big deal for me as I’m usually up at this time for work. I left home at 6:00 and took a short walk to the station.

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Once at the station, I looked at the coach timetable, and noticed the Saturday service leaves at 6:50 – although I was booked on a coach at 6:20! Hmmmm. I saw at the top of the timetable that it was from 2008 and hoped the Internet would be a bit more up to date. Luckily it was.

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I hadn’t used the rail-air service for a good few years. Infact the last time I had used it, Speedlink ran it. It has since moved over to National Express. I must admit I was more than a bit disappointed with the service. First off, it must be the only service in the world that charges more to prebook in advance than it does to buy a ticket on board. Secondly, as we pulled up at Heathrow central everybody got off and I stayed put, as I was departing from T5. As the driver got back on, gave me a confused look and asked where I was going – “T5”. He snapped back “WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY WHEN YOU GOT ON?” I replied, “Well it was clearly stated on the ticket that you checked”. The response to that was a lot of huffing and puffing followed by “Well I suppose I could take you round there” followed by more huffing and puffing. Thanks…

Once I was dropped off at the arrivals point (well at least I was at the right terminal) I made my way up to departures and headed for a self-serve check in kiosk. 20 seconds later I was done and off to security.

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There was a fair queue at security but it wasn’t anything major. The whole process took no more than about 10 minutes. Once through security I went for a wonder. This was the 1st time I had travelled from T5 – I had only previously been here for work before it was open, so I was keen to see how it looked with people and shops! I found a corner and managed to snap a few pics:

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BA 906
LHR-FRA
10th March 2012
A319 G-EUPT
Off stand: 08:19 local
On stand: 10:57 local

It was time to head down to gate A7 at approx. 7:30. The complete opposite end of the terminal to where I was but no big deal. Managed to snap a couple more pics at the gate:

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My lift to Germany

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Boarding was delayed due to the crew being late – somebody obviously couldn’t get out of bed!! It was called at about 8:10.

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I was thinking that we would never be away at 8:20 but to my surprise we were actually off stand a minute early. Infact we were pushing back while the last few passengers were still stood up and putting their bags in the overhead locker. Luckily the last few rows were empty and I had the entire row 22 to myself.

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A pretty quick taxi out to 27R followed and we were off at approx. 8:35, with no holding for the runway at all. Our flight time was estimated to be 1h15min.

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Couldn’t really see a great deal once we were off the ground due to the low cloud coverage so I relied on the moving map to tell where we were:

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Breakfast was then served, which was a sausage and egg roll with a cup of tea. After that I took the chance to get some shots of the cabin:

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Who needs Air New Zealand’s sky couch?!

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Report in Progress
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Decent started about 30 minutes later, just after breakfast and this is where I got my first glimpse of the ground since leaving London. To be honest I didn’t really realize how far we had got into the descent until the captain made the 10 minutes to landing announcement. There wasn’t a huge amount to see on the approach really.

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At about 10:40 local we landed on Frankfurt’s new runway. We had a pretty long taxi over to terminal 2, but this allowed me to get a few pics, including the 787 – one I hoped to catch.

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Never heard of them! Nice scheme though.

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Soon to be a rare sight.

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Glad I caught this one.

We pulled up on stand at 10:57 local and then waited around for about 10 minutes – although the reason wasn’t given. I made my way through the arrivals section of terminal 2.

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Immigration was certainly different here compared to the US. My passport was taken, scanned and handed back to me without the officer even taking a break from his conversation. No eye contact or anything – if only it was this easy everywhere! After that it was through a W.I.P looking baggage claim and out to the terminal transfer.

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I’ve heard people say that FRA is a pretty confusing place to be and I think I’m in agreement with that. I didn’t actually get lost at any point, but I think things could be made a bit easier.

I made my way down to the train station and off into town.

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When I got to the hbf it was full of football supporters and police in riot gear! Being the only person trying to get off the train against about 100 drunken guys was no easy task but I just about made it. The next few hours was spent seeing what Frankfurt had to offer. Here are a few of the sights I took in. If your not interested then it’s probably best to skip to my return flight:

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Taken from the main Tower

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Opera House
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Cathedral

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Old Town – Probably my favorite part of Frankfurt
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Padlocks on the Iron Bridge

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Big and messy – just the way a good burger should be!!

I then took the train back to the airport, as I was feeling a bit worn out! I had reserved a room at the Hilton garden inn. Once again, things weren’t very well signposted but I managed to find my way. I had requested a high floor with a room overlooking the airport. I wasn’t disappointed! The guy at check in confirmed my request and said he had a very nice room for me. The view wasn’t quite as good as the Radisson Blu at Manchester but it was certainly better than if I had elected to stay in the city.

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My room for the night.

By that time it was time to check in for my return flight to LCY. I used BA.com this time and things went much more smoothly. I selected seat 18a.

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Check in

I glanced out the window and noticed that the fire station on the far end of the airport seemed to be quite active – a lot of fire engines waiting outside with blue flashing lights etc. Then I saw an A330 fly over without landing. I wondered if there was a problem but it eventually came to nothing. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t the only airliners.net member to witness this.

Sunday morning was quite relaxed. Must admit I didn’t have the best nights sleep due to the bed being a bit firm for my liking. Only after did I find out that it could have been adjusted – typical! I wandered down into the squaire and grabbed something for breakfast. I brought it back to my room and enjoyed the view.

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Breakfast!

When it came to checkout time, I took a walk down to the airport city mall and brought a ticket for the airport bus tour. Outside there was an A380 made out of Lego. They do seem proud of the A380 here – there are pictures of it everywhere!

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Don’t drop it!

A few pics from the tour:

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Parked up round the corner

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One of my fav pics from the tour

Must admit I was very impressed with the tour. And it backed up my theory that they were proud of the A380. Every time one took off or landed we made a beeline for the runway so we could all see. Unfortunately it was only in German, however the girl sat next to me realized I was English and she made a point to translate the points of interest to me – very friendly!

I spent the next hour or 2 exploring what FRA had to offer – it’s definitely a big place! I’ll be back here in 2 weeks en route to BRU so want to get familiar with the place so my transfer is relatively hassle free. Although I’m not totally sure how much use it will all be… I picked up a bratwurst on my travels – very nice too!

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At about 4pm local, I picked up my boarding pass and went through security to have a look what was there. The passport check was a bit more thorough than yesterday – the guy actually looked at me today! Although he was still more interested in his conversation.

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Not much it seemed apart from some comfy chairs to sit in, some information points yet more A380 promotion and the usual duty free junk. I settled down to watch a bit of Curb your Enthusiasm on my iPad and by the time that had finished it was time to go down to gate D7.

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I waited in the holding pen, but there was no E170 in sight. The only BA plane I could see was G-EUPU to LHR.

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The other BA flight this evening

At this point I was hoping to be leaving from a remote stand. I always enjoy walking up the stairs on to the plane. About 5 minutes later the lady sat next to me got up and walked off, leaving all her baggage behind. Despite numerous announcements during the day not to do this, she obviously felt this didn’t apply to her. Still, the law of karma caught up with her, as no sooner had she got up boarding was called and everybody was up and off!

BA 8735
FRA-LCY
11th March 2012
E170 G-LCYF
Off stand: 18:09 Local
On stand: 18:36 Local

At approx. 17:30 local, boarding was called. I thought this was a little bit early, but then I found out my wish was granted and we were going to be bussed to the plane. There was a bit of a queue while we waited for a 2nd bus but after 5 minutes I was off for my 2nd airport bus trip of the day. The aircraft was parked at the furthest possible stand so the journey took quite some time.

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Legroom seemed a bit tighter on the E170 than the A319

I got on the E170 and I parked myself in my assigned seat. Unlike yesterday the flight seemed pretty full and I didn’t have an entire row to myself this time. Everybody was on fairly quickly with the exception of 1 person. Guess who…

This service seemed quite a bit different to the mainline service. The BA advertising music was playing and there were quite a few pre-recorded announcements. The only actual announcement came from the flight deck saying we were waiting for one passenger and as soon as they turn up we would be on our way. Also he mentioned that we had a flight time of 1h10 and that we were expecting a long taxi to the South runway. Pushback commenced at 18:08 local and the engines were started. It struck me that the E-series was quite a bit louder than the A319 I was on yesterday. Although that could of been due to the fact I was closer to the wing.

We taxied past the Southern cargo area at some rate of speed and on to the runway and made a pretty brisk take off a third of the way down runway 18.

Once above the clouds the cabin service started and we were greeted with a glorious sunset:

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Then came a bit of turbulence. Not a huge amount, but just enough to let you know that the drinks service was about to begin!

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‘Meal’ service
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When the drinks service reached me, we had started our descent. The captain announced that we would be landing to the West at 18:30 local. We slowly made our way down as the light outside faded. At 18:20 local the captain once again came on saying there had been a change of plan. We would now be landing to the East instead and that as it was a nice evening weather wise there would be some good views as we approach over London. And there were some very good views – for everybody sat over the other side of the plane!!

As we got lower, the speed brakes were deployed – as I’ve neither been on an E-jet or into LCY I’m not sure if this is normal practice? Maybe somebody could enlighten me. A few moments later we made a very hard touch down and the brakes were jammed on – to the point where if I hadn’t been strapped to my seat I would of been thrown out of it! We did a 180 degree turn at the end of the runway and made our way to the apron – the whole process taking only a couple of minutes.

We disembarked pretty quickly and I made my way over to gate 6 via the back steps.

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The whole border control process at LCY was very well organized and the only hold up came at customs where instead of any high tech machinery there was a dog and a fairly big looking border control officer. The dog seemed to take a keen interest in me and was told to empty my pockets. I did so, and then the dog seemed interested in my wallet. A bit of light banter later and I was on my way up to the DLR station and onwards to Waterloo, where I will leave this report.

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Overall I enjoyed Frankfurt, although there was a point on Sunday afternoon where I slightly ran out of things to do. The BA flights were no problem at all. Must admit I found the outbound slightly more enjoyable and the crew more friendly. There wasn’t any problem with the LCY crew; I just found that they seemed a little more professional, although I guess that’s what comes from dealing with mostly business people. I also found the A319 slightly more comfortable, although that’s probably down to me not having a seatmate. If I had a spare seat next to me on the inbound my opinion might be different. The hotel was as expected from a Hilton. Clean and modern. The only let down was from National Express. It wasn’t a huge deal as I had plenty of time but if I was a bit pushed it could have been more of an issue. I also feel that if I hadn’t been so clued up on how the airport worked, I could of ended up very lost.

Hopefully you have enjoyed my first purpose written report. I know a few people like only the aviation side of things; however the ones I enjoy the most is where it goes from journeys beginning to end.

Next up for me is a slightly more interesting trip that will bring me back to FRA on my way to BRU.

All pictures taken on an iPhone4 or Canon 550D