I arrived at LHR T5 at 11.00am for the 2.10pm departure to San Francisco. Knowing that I was pretty early I decided to stand outside at the south end of the car park drop and have a few smokes whilst watching the various aircraft depart. Closing in towards 12pm I decided that not only had a managed to smoke too many cigarettes but I should probably get moving and get my bag dropped, through security and make the most of the galleries lounge.
Check in & Bag Drop:
Everyone who has travelled through LHR T5 knows that 95% of the time human traffic flows easily and you never have to wait more than a couple of seconds to use the self service kiosk…..this was exactly how it was for me. After printing my boarding pass and scanning my passport I headed to the bag drop podium where I was seen to immediately by a lovely happy check in assistant who threw a few jokes my way asking if the coffee I was holding was for her. I had been checking flight and cabin availability all week (and knew it was a packed segment)in the hope that I would be able to use exec club points to upgrade to CW although it would not let me do this in the run up to arriving at the airport so thought I would try my luck at the desk seeing as the check in assistant was so nice…….turns out there were CW seats available for upgrade but only for sale which were going at a rate of 2000 GBP for one way…..well out of my range!! So I said no and thanked her anyway and made my way off to fast track security.
Fast track security had a small line in front of me…..6/7 people maybe but this was fluid and moved quickly with the usual security arrangements and I was airside in 5 mins.
A quick walk around duty free and some of the luxury clothing stores and I wanted to sit and have a glass of wine before the flight so I headed to the BA Galleries south lounge (which I use all the time). The lounge was busy as usual but I managed to find a seat tucked away and had a glass of pinot and some small snacks. I was meeting a colleague who didn’t have lounge status so left the lounge when I knew they were outside to ensure they came in ok as my desk. When the lounge agent scanned my boarding pass through again…I got the fantastic red light, beep and the desk agent say “Oh a seat change”………….this was my confirmation that I had received a very welcome OP-UP in to CW owing to the fact the flight was packed and oversold. This raised my mood to new levels…to know that for the 11 hour trio I would be comfortable with a flat bed, enhanced food and all the alcohol I can drink.
Boarding & Seat:
I kept a close eye on the screen and we literally only had 10 mins after re-entering the lounge before our gate number flashed up (departing from B Gates) and we had to head over, so grabbed our items and headed for the transit. When we arrived at gate B42 a long snaking line had formed for economy but I was pleased to see the fast track lane had only 1 person in it so we headed there to get to the air bridge. The queue on the air bridge was long but seemed too moved really quick although there was a miserable luggage checking agent measuring hand baggage that seemed to be holding the queue up. I was quickly on board and directed to my seat 18G. Champagne and orange juice were offered whilst the cabin was being prepared and I happily sat back and relaxed before the long flight. My seat was in perfect working order, clean and tidy which made me equally as happy….I have taken some flights in CW before where tissues and crumbs have been left on the seat or the seat settings have not worked correctly….which is frustrating when you think of the price you actually paid to sit in that advertised comfort.
Push back from the gate was extremely quick and we had a quick taxi out to the departure runway, so quick in fact that the crew were still moving through the cabin offering menus and amenity kits when the cabin chimes sounded for an imminent departure where they had to run to take their seats. We pulled on to the runway and were airborne within a few minutes….departing 15 mins behind schedule.
The seat belts signs were turned off after a short period… which felt like a couple of minutes. The crew then sprang to life to start the first drinks service and take orders for lunch. I have noticed that the past few BA flights I have taken that the first drinks service has felt like it has taken far too long to start….and this was no different, with the trolley stopping at my seat 45mins-1 hour after we were airborne, although I am prepared to let things like this go as BA have always been quite generous with their drinks round (coming to my seat 3 or 4 times before the starter was served. Lunch orders were taken and I sat back and browsed the IFE.
This was my 2nd flight to the US with BA in 3 weeks so it was the same IFE as on my flight a few weeks back and I remember being disappointed with it then so I couldn’t find anything really of interest. I decided to watch a fav “finding nemo” to pass the time until lunch started.
The food offering for lunch was as follows:
Starter: Crayfish tian with smoked salmon
Fresh seasonal salad
Seared tenderloin of beef with peppercorn sauce, Cajun potatoes and vegetables
Grilled sea bream, lime and parsley risotto and chermoula sauce
Penne pasta with ricotta, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and basil
Chilled main course Caesar salad with chicken
Chocolate and orange delice
Vanilla and dulce de leche ice cream
I had the crayfish tian to start which was pretty bland but edible, the seared beef for main which was piping hot and lovely although the beef was overdone compared to what I normally have but always allow for such a dish at 35,000 ft and the orange and chocolate delice to finish was very tasty. I was satisfied with the meal and did the job. The one gripe I always have with flying is the tea/coffee service, never strong, never hot and basically like colored water….the only flight I have ever had a decent cup of coffee on was with air new Zealand where it was barista quality served piping hot in a proper china mug.
For the remaining portion of the flight I reclined the seat, napped, watched some IFE and made some trips to the club kitchen. The flight passed really quickly and before I knew it we were on final approach to SFO.
We did have quite a taxi from the end of the runway to the gate but this didn’t bother me and I caught up with some emails received during flight. As with all US airports (whether leaving or arriving) they are useless and inefficient with only 4 people on the entry desks so after an 11 hour flight the last thing you want to do it queue for an hour to get through.
All in all a perfect flight with BA, everything done was done right, the crew were professional but not over friendly and they kept the drinks flowing and obviously the OP-UP in to club world was well received. IFE was disappointing but I made do. Flights like this will keep me coming back to BA.