18th January 2012 at 17:01 #492447
Anonymous18th January 2012 at 17:01 #492448
DUB-LHR-DUB (Economy Flexible)
Booking and check in
BMI do not charge for checked in baggage which gives them a competitive edge over their rivals on this route.
I hold Diamond Club Gold status, and decided to use my destination miles to get a reward flight. There was availability for the dates I wanted, and little trouble in making the booking. The total charges and fees were 56euro.
I later tried to select my seats on line, which is a feature of economy flexible tickets, however this does not apply to redemption bookings, Not a problem, a quick call to the Diamond Club call centre and my preferred seats were allocated.
On line check-in is available 24 hours prior to travel, and I used this facility to print my boarding passes for my same day return flight.
I arrived at Dublin Terminal 1 just after 5.30am for my 7.05am flight and proceeded straight to security. Since Aer Lingus and transatlantic operators have migrated to Terminal 2, there is a lower number of passengers using T1 which makes it far less crowded than heretofore. BMI economy flexible includes use of the fast track security lane which is useful. I was airside within a couple of minutes.
There is a good range of shops and cafes, most of which open around 5.00am to cater for the early birds.
The Diamond Club lounge is adjacent to the main shopping area and is furnished in the usual BMI manner: bright colour sofas with a business section for those who wish to work. 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 coffee is good and strong (perfect for early morning!) with a good range of soft and alcoholic drinks.
The lounge is a short walk from gates 301-313 (the old B pier) and makes boarding quite easy. We boarded from Gate 312 which is at the entrance.
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.
Being in row 1 my hand baggage has 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 seat.
A new addition was the provision of a separate entrance to the boarding desks for Gold/Silver Diamond club members and those traveling in flexible economy. A nice tough, but one which might easily overwhelmed by a group of non elite passengers.
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.
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 7.00am and after a lengthy taxi were airborne by 7.15.
Economy flexible passengers are offered a hot wrap and beverage. Quite tasty, but not as nice as the cooked breakfast on the old business class product.
We landed in Heathrow at 8.15am after a very few minutes in a holding pattern but still landed ahead of schedule. After a brisk walk, I was on the heathrow express and arrived in London Paddington before 9.00am. Now that’s a good start to the day.
Return Check in and security
Having my boarding pass already printed, I went directly to security at Heathrow T1 and was processed very quickly. I was airside within 5 minutes.
Being Diamond Club Gold, I visited the Star Alliance lounge. This is a large, very comfortable facility with on site restrooms and excellent showers.
The food consists of soup, rolls, salads, sandwiches, cold meats, hot savoury snacks, rice crackers. Additionally, there was a chicken dish with rice. I had a very pleasant lunch, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
There is a pleasant shower area, and after a day trudging around London, I was very much refreshed after my shower.
As this lounge is quite a long walk from the BMI boarding area, I went to the BMI lounge shortly before boarding. 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. Staff are very welcoming and tend to greet passengers by name, which is always a nice touch.
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.
Unusually the Dublin bound flight boarded at gate 8, almost beside the lounge. Heretofore it used to be gates 72-78, adjacent to the Aer Lingus departure area and quite a walk from the lounge. Using gate 8 for the evening flight seems to be the norm lately and is most welcome.
Boarding was by rows, and was quite efficient, with the usual invitation to flexible economy and elite diamond club members to board at their leisure. 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.
The Airbus 320 was a two class configuration with the front being 2-2. The large seats are upholstered in brown leather, and in the first row, there are only 2 seats: A & C. The space where D & F would normally be is taken up by a wardrobe. A very useful pair of seats for those seeking privacy. The seats themselves are wide and have a footrest/recline facility and are very confortable.
After a welcome announcement from the Captain, the cabin crew gave a safety demonstration.
We pushed back shortly after our scheduled time of 7.35pm, and were airborne shortly afterwards.
I was offered a hot wrap which was quite tasty, but somewhat small. It came with Pringles and a good red wine.
A very impressive return flight. Excellent service, punctuality and pleasant lounges make BMI a very pleasant airline to travel on the Dublin-London route. The earlier departure time ex-Dublin and return ex London gives an additional two hours in London than was previously the case. Much more beneficial for business or leisure purposes and a welcome change.
BMI staff in the lounges and aircraft are most pleasant and helpful and make flying with BMI a pleasure. I sincerely hope the eventual owners appreciate this very valuable asset.
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