bmi A319-100 (2-Class) Business (short haul)

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  • Anonymous
    Guest

    PatJordan
    Participant

    DUB-NICE-DUB (Business)

    Booking and check in

    http://www.flybmi.com is an easy site to navigate and as I was planning a short break for my wife and I, there was little difficulty in viewing the options available for Nice.

    A feature of business class is seat selection at time of booking, and I was delighted to be able to choose our seats there and then.

    On line check-in is available 24 hours prior to travel, and I used this facility to print our boarding passes.

    We arrived at Dublin Terminal 1 just after 1,00pm for our 3.10pm flight and proceeded to the BMI bag drop off, which took no time at all. Our bags were checked through to NCE.

    BMI economy flexible/business includes use of the fast track security lane which is useful. We were airside within minutes.

    Lounge (Dublin)

    The Diamond Club lounge is adjacent to the main shopping area and is furnished in the usual BMI manner: bright colour sofas with plenty of natural light. Restrooms are outside the lounge and are shared with the Dublin Airport Authority lounge.

    There is a limited range of food: biscuits, sweets and packaged pastries.

    The lounge is a short walk from gates 301-313 (the old B pier).

    Boarding (Dublin)

    Boarding is through an airbridge and rearmost rows are called first to minimize delays. Diamond Club Gold holders and economy flexible passengers are invited to board at their leisure, and there is now a dedicated lane for premium passengers. Being in row 1 our hand baggage had to be stowed in the overhead bins, so if the flight is busy it can be worthwhile boarding early to ensure space is available close to the seats.

    The Airbus 320 was immaculate and cabin crew warmly welcomed passengers.
    This Airbus 320 was configured in full economy mode, all seats 3-3. The first rows were reserved for economy flexible. Seats were in the newer BMI brown colour, and very attractive.

    .
    Inflight

    The Captain gave a brief welcome and details of flight times, followed by a safety announcement from the cabin crew. We pushed back shortly after 3.00pm and were airborne by 3.10pm.

    Catering consisted of a slice of lemon cake with a choice of soft or alcoholic drink.

    We landed in Heathrow at 4.10pm and as we were transiting, stayed on board whilst most passengers deplaned to await a coach to bring us to the flight connection centre, which left us adjacent to the Star Alliance lounge. There was no departure gate showing for BD 195 to Nice, so we proceeded to the BMI International lounge which is close to the usual departure area for European flights.

    Great British Lounge

    BMI European flights use what was formerly BA’s Terraces lounge. The excellent views over the apron remain, but the lounge has been extensively refurbished. A good range of food is offered with a full bar service. PCs with internet access are provided for those who need to work, and there is a good range of newspapers and magazines.

    The boarding gate is close to the lounge, except on this occasion when we learned that the Nice flight would depart from Gate 32….which is adjacent to the Star Alliance lounge!! The long walk up and down the length of Terminal 1was as good as any workout, but left us with barely enough time for a coffee and sandwich from the excellent range on offer.

    Boarding

    Boarding is by means of an airbridge, and as before Business Class passengers were called first. The cabin crew warmly welcomed passengers and we were shown to our seats.

    The Airbus 320 is a two class configuration with the first 8 rows in business class arranged 3-3 with the middle seat blanked off with a table which folds into the seatback when needed for economy use.

    Inflight service consisted of an excellent braised beef with salads, warm bread and dessert, with tea/coffee afterwards. All served on china and with proper cutlery and glassware. My wife and I chose white and red wine, respectively, and regular refills were offered. The overall standard of food was excellent, as was the service.

    On landing in NCE, our bags were delivered in 5 minutes, and it was a very short walk to the terminal exit.

    Return Check in and security

    We arrived at NCE at for our flight. 1.00pm flight at 10.30am. As this was our first time flying out of NCE, we were unsure about what time to allow, and erred on the side of caution. Terminal 1 is very compact and at that particular time was very quiet. We had already checked in online, so all that remained was to drop off our bags. This was done within a couple of minutes, with our bags marked “priority”, and as before were checked through to Dublin.

    Security was deserted and we were airside almost immediately.

    Lounge NCE

    BMI use the Business Lounge in Nice, and is very bright and spacious. There was a good range of savoury and sweet snacks, full bar and champagne served on request, which we enjoyed greatly.

    As 1pm approached, there was no information on the screens about boarding, so we decided to go to the gate. There were the same two staff on duty, neither of whom had any information about the proposed boarding time. Eventually, we discovered that due to heavy fog at LHR, there were delays as a result, and we would be boarding late, possibly after 2.00pm. We then returned to the lounge, and shortly after 1.30pm, boarding was called. We again reassembled at the gate, and awaited a bus to drive us to the aircraft.

    Cabin crew welcomed passengers, and the Airbus A320 was identical to that used on the outbound flight.

    We spoke to the flight supervisor (Emmy) and asked about our connecting flight from LHR to Dublin. As there were so many flights delayed (in and out of LHR) we didn’t expect any problems, and settled in to enjoy the flight. After an update from the Captain, the safety announcement, we finally pushed back and taxied towards the runway. The runway at NCE is surrounded on both sides by water and is very picturesque.

    The meal was a delicious fish pie, served in a similar manner to the outbound flight, and was excellent.

    We had a lengthy taxi in LHR, and were on stand at approx 3.30pm. This left a tight timeframe for the onward flight to Dublin (scheduled for 4.00pm) but were confident of making it, especially as were parked beside the BMI UK departure area.

    However, as we were on an international flight, we had to be bussed to flight connections, and the plane was unloaded from the rear, thus making us almost the last off. I was about to ask the dispatcher about the onward flight, but he simply raised his hand and gestured to us to await the following coach. Luckily there was no delay at flight connection, and we made our way promptly to gate 8 where our flight was scheduled to depart.

    However it was almost 4.00pm by now, and I decided to ask at the BMI lounge about the actual departure time. Amazingly, this was one of the few flights to be ontime, and despite an enquiry from the lounge staff, the flight had closed.

    Peter, in the lounge was very helpful and arranged for us to be transferred to the next flight to Dublin. However, this was not until 8.05pm which left almost 4 hours to kill.

    Lounge Heathrow

    The Great British Lounge is very big with plenty of natural light. However as it was after dark, the lighting was very pleasant and relaxing.

    The food is soup, rolls, cheese, crackers, biscuits, crisps, nuts, good quality cheesecake and gateaux. I particularly like the jars of old fashioned sweets, always brings me back to my childhood!! There is a full bar service.

    Boarding

    Unusually the Dublin bound flight boarded at gate 78, and quite a walk from the lounge.

    Boarding was by rows, and was quite efficient. As with Dublin, there was a dedicated economy flexible/Diamond Club Silver & Gold cardholder lane.

    The Cabin crew were very welcoming indeed. Given the uncertainty surrounding the future ownership of BMI, this is a testament to the professionalism of BMI crew who will be an undoubted asset to the eventual owners of the airline.

    This Airbus 320 was configured in full economy mode, all seats 3-3. The first 3 rows were reserved for economy flexible. Seats were in the newer BMI brown colour, and very attractive. As we had chosen row 1, the bulkhead ensured that we didn’t have a seatback too close to our faces.

    After a welcome announcement from the Captain, the cabin crew gave a safety demonstration.

    We pushed back shortly after our scheduled time of 8.05pm, and were airborne shortly afterwards.

    Catering consisted of a hot wrap which was quite tasty.

    Arrival at Dublin was shortly after 9.20pm and we were on stand shortly aftesrwards. Passport control was very swift and a short walk to the baggage hall where we had to wait almost 15 minutes before the first bags appeared on the belt. I was pleased to find that ours (with Priority tags) were amongst the first delivered.

    We were less pleased to discover the lock broken, so a quick check was in order. We were horrified to find a strong smell of alcohol coming from the case. We had nothing like that in the case, so obviously something had been spilt on the case, and had leaked through to stain a number of our clothes, including some items bought as gifts for our grand-children.

    We reported the damage to Servisair (BMI’s handling agent) and were given a file number and asked to telephone in the morning. This I did, and discovered that the handling agents do not deal with damage such as ours, and referred us to BMI.

    After an afternoon of fruitless calls, I finally found a very helpful gentleman at BMI’s customer service at Head Office: he also was called Peter!. His advice was invaluable and thanks to Peter, my issues are being resolved.

    Conclusion

    A very mixed experience. BMI lounge staff and cabin crew are excellent, as was the service on board all four flights.

    Nobody can blame the airline for the delays which occurred on the return flights, but we felt a greater effort could have been made to assist us make our original flight to Dublin. My experience with the handling agents and call centre staff was unacceptable, and were it not for my persistence, I would not have been so fortunate to achieve a resolution.


    PatJordan
    Participant

    Less that two weeks since raising the issues outlined in my earlier post, I was delighted to receive a cheque from BMI’s agents in settlement of my damaged luggage.

    Well done BMI.

    Pat

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