BA2167: London Gatwick to Tampa
I checked in for this flight online 24 hours before departure, having already pre-selected my seat at the time of booking. I have never had the opportunity to travel in First, so as this was a three class 777, I decided to sit as far forward as possible in an aisle seat, and was therefore in 2B.
I arrived at London Gatwick and made my way to Check In Zone A. At the far end is a cordoned area for Club World and First passengers. In truth it was not particularly well organised though the right intentions were there as one lady was welcoming passengers to the priority area, checking the hand luggage and then directing them to a desk. However, as she was on her own, other passengers bypassed her and went straight to the check-in desk much to the consternation of some passengers!
I was seen quickly by a very friendly gentleman who offered directions to both the Lounge and Fastrak Security.
I then made my way the short distance to the Fastrak Security area, which has moved since I last had the privilege of using it. It is completely separate from the main security area. The advantage of this is that the staff don’t suddenly send economy passengers when it is busy elsewhere. However on the converses there is only one lane, I had the unfortunate position of being behind a family including 3 very young children. It therefore took nearly 15 minutes to get through security. I had plenty of time so it did not matter to me but I imagine it can get quite stressful at busy times.
I then went straight to the BA Terraces Lounge. BA has a First and Terraces Lounges, both on the 4th Floor. They are reached by using a lift or stairs from the 3rd floor. Every time I have used this Lounge, it is always busy but there seemed to be plenty of staff on hand to clear away cups and plates to enable new visitors to take available seats.
At this time, around 9am, the food offering was clearly geared up to breakfast as you would expect. It was of the continental variety, with offerings including various cereals, fruit, yoghurts, porridge, danish pastries, cheeses and toast. I was a bit disappointed that there were no bacon rolls, but perhaps I’ve got used to the high standards of LHR T5!
I did ask for and receive a lovely glass of champagne which more than made up and set me up for the flight.
As no announcements are made in the Lounge, I went down to the Gate when instructed to do so on the screen. It became confusing at the gate as a narrow corridor lead to two gates, the Tampa flight I was on and a BA flight to Amsterdam. It was not clear that the Tampa passengers did not need to be in this queue until we reached the end of the corridor. A design flaw I think!
We then had to go through two checks before entering the departure area. Thirty minutes before the scheduled departure, boarding commenced for Club World travellers and Gold Executive members.
Club World on this plane is split into two with Rows 1-8 in the forward cabin and Rows 9-11 in the second cabin, and before World Traveller Plus. As there is no First Class Cabin, it is definitely better to be in the forward cabin, and I was very pleased with my seat selection, 2B, as it meant that I did not have anyone stepping over my legs as well as being served quickly.
Although the flight was pretty full, the crew were very efficient at getting everyone organised and we pushed back a few minutes early. After the Seat Belt sign was extinguished, the crew handed out hot towels, the menus and amenity kits.
The Lunch Menu was as follows:
Starters: Crayfish and beetroot smoked salmon salad with chive creme fraiche, or
Blue cheese and caramelised walnut salad with creamy Parmesan dressing.
Salad: Fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette.
Main: Roasted breast of chicken wrapped in prosciutto with celeriac mashed potatoes and shallow jus. Or
Seared fillet steak with salsa verde, thyme-roasted cocotte potatoes and creamed leeks. Or
Prawn masala with coriander rice. Or
Chilled main course salad of new potato, rocket and blood orange with with shanklish goat’s cheese balls and Parmesan dressing.
Dessert: Chocolate hazelnut tart. Or
Butler’s Secret Cheddar and Shropshire Blue cheese with plum and ginger chutney. Or
A selection of fruits.
Lunch was served with the following wines:
White: Chablis 2011, Domaine Sainte Claire, Burgundy, France
Tiki Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand.
Red: Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2009, DOCG, “La Luna e l Falo”. Piedmont, Italy.
Wakefield ‘Jarman’ Shiraz 2009, Clare Valley / McLaren Valley, South Australia.
The champagnes that were on offer were:
>Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne
> Champagne de Castelnau Brut Rose NV
> Champagne Boizel Grand Vintage 2004
I selected the Crayfish as the starter and the fillet steak as the main course and I was not disappointed. The service was personal and efficient, but not rushed.
I watched a couple of films throughout the flight, had a brief sleep and did some reading, as well as visiting the Club Kitchen for some water and fruit. It was well stocked with wraps and crisps available along with various drinks.
Afternoon Tea was served about 90 minutes before arrival. This comprised of
> An individual selection of sandwiches featuring smoked salmon with lemon creme fraiche and roast beef with horseradish mayonnaise.
> Plain or fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves.
We arrived about 30 minutes early, and as Tampa is not a busy International Airport, I was through immigration and had collected my bags within 20 minutes.
I was staying overnight at the Marriott Hotel, which is actually accessed directly within the terminal building. This is a superb hotel and one I would stay at again if I needed to overnight whilst in transit.
Overall an excellent flight. Ruth marshalled her crew really well which made for an enjoyable flight.