Those of you who have managed to keep up with my insanity will know that the RTW ticket is parked in Sydney at the moment. This report covers the flights to get back to Oz in order to pick up the RTW once again. My means of getting back to Oz changed 3 times since my original plans were struck with the final solution being a Finnair ticketed jaunt via HEL and SIN to get me to SYD with the final SIN-SYD sector being a codeshare on BA.
I left work early again but unlike my previous jaunts I had a suitcase to drag around London with me. I took two tubes and the HEX back to Heathrow Central and made my way upstairs at Terminal 3. The AY check-in desks are located at the far right end of the terminal along with their other OneWorld fellows.
There was one business check-in desk and I had to wait until a passenger with a million questions had finished before being called forward. I placed my case on the belt and handed over my passport. The agent asked me if I had printed my BP and I said the online system wouldn’t allow me to print the SIN-SYD BA sector. She said I will print all three for you now. She also tagged my bag and was putting a ‘heavy’ tag on it and the ripped it off and put a priority tag instead. I said I didn’t think it was that heavy.
She told me that AY use the Cathay Pacific lounge and handed me my 3 boarding passes and baggage tag and wished me a pleasant trip. She also said I could use fast track security.
I made my way upstairs past the Amex travel exchange with a mental note to self to pick up my cash when airside. The fast track security lines were short and two machines were in operation. It seems though that each person in my queue waited for a personal invitation to get their stuff out and the line moved decidedly slowly.
I made it through unscathed and out through the dedicated door into the airside shopping mall. I made a beeline to the Cathay lounge where a very confused elevator told me ‘doors closing’ after it had reached the second level just as the doors were about to open.
Inside the agent welcomed me in and pointed to the doors to the First class section.
The lounge is nice and airy with windows looking out over the apron.
They had Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin bubbly along with other wines and spirits. Foodwise they had a vegetable curry, chicken rendang, beef in black bean sauce, rice, salads, sandwiches, scones and biscuits and cheese along with the signature CX noodles made to order.
About 40 minutes prior to the flight the gate was announced on the boards and I packed up my things and made my down to the gate. There was no priority entrance to the gate lounge so I just joined the long queue. Inside my PP and BP were checked and I entered the gate enclosure. Boarding didn’t start until just before the scheduled take off time and wheel chairs were let down the ramp first. A boarding call was then made for the back rows and Business and OW elite could board at their leisure. The usual scrum ensued and I made my way down the ramp toward the aircraft.
Flight AY0834 LHR-HEL Seat 2A
Departure time: 18:05
A smartly dressed older AY crewmember welcomed me on board and I threw my camera and pad onto my seat and stashed my backpack in the overhead. The gentleman in 2C had already boarded and I had to ask him to get up to let me in, despite my have just tossed my stuff past him.
I settled in for the flight into the standard Euro airlines configuration of a normal Y seat with the middle seat blocked. The front cabin filled up with 12 business class passengers. The captain apologised for the slight delay due to the aircraft being cleaned and announced a flight time of 2 hours and 35 minutes. The purser also made her welcome announcement. We pushed back at 18:23 and they were showing nose cam on the IFE screen on the bulkhead wall. We took off at 18:42 into the fine night over London. A bit of a change from the previous week where the weather had been particularly un-fine.
After the belt sign went off the crew were up and about firstly closing the curtains between J and Y. A hot towel was handed out along with a menu card.
The Asian cuisine offers a vast variety of foods and flavours. Pleasing to the palate, this combination of fresh ingredients and exotic spices tempts you with its fantastic aroma.
Japanese vegetable maki
Bulgogi, Korean beef with fragrant Jasmine rice
Sunny mango cake
Carefully selected wine and beverage selection
A drinks round was made before the meal and I asked for champagne. Finnair use mini bottles of Joseph Perrier champagne that is not half bad. This was served along with some pretzel snacks.
After the drinks the meals were served all on the tray and a breadbasket was passed around along with an offer of more drinks. I decided to try the white wine and it was also OK although a little woody for me.
Coffee and tea were offered next and I had a cup of Joe to keep me awake.
It was about this time that I realised my mental note to pick up my currency airside at T3 had a delayed reminder time on it and my money was still back at LHR.
After the meal tray was taken away I did the usual window gazing until it was time to land.
As we were travelling further north the light stayed with us and it was still quite bright outside when we landed at 22:59. The IFE screen on the bulkhead had been showing gate arrival and connection information and I was able to note that my Singapore flight was leaving from the gate next to our arrival gate.
I exited the aircraft and made my way up to the lounge that was just past my departure gate. I was welcomed inside and given a code for the wifi. A quick surf and a glass of mineral water later and a detour via the loo and I was heading out back to the gate. As I arrived they just started to pre-board. The agent saw I had come from the lounge and nodded at me to come forward. My BP and PP were scanned and I was on down to the aircraft.
Flight AY0081 HEL-SIN Seat 7A
Departure time: 23:55
On board I was greeted by two of the business crew and directed to my seat. I had chosen the last row in Business as they were labelled ‘more leg space’ on the AY seat maps online. However it seems on this aircraft 7A was not the last row but the second last. I mentioned something to the crewmember and he said “oh I even get confused as we have several versions of this aircraft. We are waiting to get rid of these ones”. I said ah this is one of the old Air France ones and he said yes, you know more than I do.
I settled in and my jacket was taken and a pre-departure beverage was offered of water, orange juice or champagne. No surprises then when I accepted a glass of bubbly.
The business cabin on this aircraft is configured 2-2-2 in 6 rows in the forward cabin and the same with 2 rows behind the galley before economy started.
In the back section of 12 seats there were 4 passengers seated as the doors closed at 23:50; sweet no one next to me.
An amenity kits of sorts was handed out, that consisted of a pair of socks, eyeshade and earplugs in a paper envelope with words to the effect that it is a green amenity kit. If we desired anything else we should ask the crew. In the loo there was some hand cream especially designed for Finnair that was blueberry scented.
Newspapers were offered from the trolleys that the cabin rolled through the aisles.
The captain announced a flight time of 11 hours and 15 minutes and we should arrive on schedule into Singapore. The chief purser also made her announcement as we pushed back at 23:55 and the safety demonstration was played on the IFE.
As we lined up on the runway for take off the crew were still up and about but then the Captain asked them to be seated. We sat a minute or so more before starting our take off run at 00:05.
It was still dusk outside and I as able to view some lovely images of the perpetually setting sun on the Finnish skyline as we took off.
After take off the menu and wine list were handed out along with a hot towel. I went to the loo and changed into my LX PJ bottoms and a t-shirt and on return to my seat a crewmember asked if I would like her to hang my clothes. Well that is a first for a business cabin. I thanked her and she took them away.
It was a little chilly so I grabbed the nice thick quilt from the locker overhead and wrapped it over my legs.
I took the headset out of their packet and realised it was a proper noise cancelling type and fired up the IFE. There was a limited selection of movies, perhaps 15 or so and maybe twice as many CDs that were AVOD.
I chose some music and was able to watch the seat map on the bulkhead mounted video unit.
We flew out over Russia with the dawn/dusk off to the left of the aircraft out my window. It made for some lovely viewing and I was able to see St Petersburg below at one point.
The meal service began with trolleys being wheeled to the back to begin and then moved forward. I don’t know if that is because the back are the ‘leg space’ seats or because the back was lightly loaded or indeed this is normal given the galley was in front of row 7.
On offer for tonight’s late dinner was:
Velvety sweet potato soup
Sea bass fried in lemon butter on a bed of stewed fennel
Mediterranean tortellini in pesto cream sauce
Grilled spring chicken with port wine sauce, chevre risotto
Black gouda, Brie
Cappuccino and caramel pastry
Cappuccino, espresso and a selection of teas are also available
Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut Vintage 2000, Champagne, France
Joseph Perrier, the son of wine merchant Francois-Alexandre, established the champage house of Joseph Perrier File et Cie in 1825. Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut Vintage 2000 is a blend of 15 grands crus and uses three grape varieties (50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier), matured in cellars for up to eight years. Joseph Perrier 2000 is beautifully crafted, presenting a round and well-balanced taste, from a fruity start through to notes of spices and hints of patisserie in the finish. Aromas of pear and flavours of peach dominate, creating a stylish and fresh character for this champagne. This champagne offers moments of true pleasure.
Pierre Andre Chassagne Montrachet 2009, AOX Chassagne Montrachet Bourgogne, France
Chassagne-Montrachet in the Cote de Beaune is famous for great white wines. Situated in the heart of the village of Chassagne Montrachet, with the vineyards of 40 years on average. Pierre Andre wines are made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. The colour is golden with green reflections. The nose expresses itself with notes of fresh apricot, yellow fruits and white flowers, with a touch of vanilla. It opens on more toasted notes stemming from ageing in oak barrels. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and creamy with smooth minerality. Well-balanced and dense. This classic white wine goes well with all kinds of seafood.
Hardys Nottage Hill Riesling 2009, South Eastern Australia
Nottage Hill wines are known for their consistency, approachable style and balance. The 2009 Nottage Hill Riesling was crafted from Riesling parcels from premium vineyards in South Australia, including Clare Valley, a name synonymous with Riesling, and from the cool region of Padthaway, on the Limestone Coast. Hardys Nottage Hill Riesling is made form 100% Riesling grapes. The colour is intense light green. The nose is fresh with concentrated lemon and lime aromas with an underlying hint of spice. The taste is slightly mineral with floral aromas. The fruit character is of great length. Fresh lemon and lime dominate the palate with crisp, racy acidity and a touch of minerality. This wine goes well with salmon and pasta.
Chateau Fontesteau 2003, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France
Chateau Fontesteau is included in the Medoc Cru Bourgeois classification. The history of this estate, situated in the vicinity of Pauillac, dates back as far as the 14th century. The wine is composed of these grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Merlot (24%), Cabernet Franc (12%) and Petit Verdot (3%). The vines average between 25 and 30 years in age. The wine is matured for 12 months in oak barrels, 30% of which are new. The year 2003 was a great vintage, remembered for a particularly warm summer, which resulted in small harvest but made the wines full bodied and strong. Chateau Fontesteau 2003 is somewhat developed and deep red in colour. The taste is rich, long, warm, balanced and full of fruit and berries. This wine is an excellent companion for fowl and meat dishes, game and cheeses. The wine is at its best now.
Avignonesi Desiderio Cortona Merlot 2007, DOC Cortona, Tuscany, Italy
Avignonesi is one of Italian Tuscany’s leading wine producers. The wine is made from 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Harvesting is done manually by collecting the best grapes from the vineyeard. Ageing is in new barrique oak casks for at least 18 months and refinement in bottles for nine months. This wine is considered to be amongst the best merlot-based wines in Italy. 2007 was an excellent vintage. The colour is ruby red. The nose is sophisticated and aromatic with aromas of dark berries. The taste is full-bodied, opulent, harmonious, round and slightly evolved with blueberries. It is well-balanced, rich and long lasting with hints of port-like sweetness and French oak. Serving suggestions: roast and grilled meat, game and mature cheeses.
Lenz Moser Prestige Beerenauslese 2008, Burgenland, Austria
The Lenz Moser name is firmly linked with wine-growing in Austria. The current Lenz Moser estate winery in Rohrendorf near Krems, is first mentioned in an official document as early as 1040. The grape varieties used are Samling, Bouvier, Welschriesling and Chardonnay. The colour is brilliant yellow with shimmers of fold. The nose has remarkable bouquet with hints of botrytis, aromas of exotic fruits and honey-like fragrance. The taste is sweet, harmonious and well balanced with aromas of golden raisins and toasted almonds. This sweet wine has a wonderful play of sugar and acidity with a long finish of distinguished harmony (who writes this stuff). It is a perfect match with foie gras, blue cheese, desserts, chocolate and puddings.
Niepoort Colheita 1998, Port Portugal Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
Colheitas are dated tawnies aged in small casks. The minimum age requirement is seven years, but the tradition at Niepoort is to age several more years in the casks before bottling. Niepoort Colheita 1998 shows great character, fruit and concentration. This port is made from vines more than 60 years old. The grape varieties used are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cao, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousao and Tinta Roritz. The colour of Niepoort Colheita 1998 is brick red with some orange/brown hues. It has a delightful vinous bouquet well integrated with the aroma of dried fruits. The wine is full-bodied and the palate has great freshness along wit subdued dried apricots and figs, leading to a lengthy spirity finish. This port wine is wonderful on its own at the end of a meal of with cheese or sweet desserts.
Renault Carte d’Argent XO Cognac
Chivas Regal 18-years-old Blended Scotch Whisky
Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15-years-old Single Malt Whisky
Calvados Roger Groult 20 ans d’age
Bombay Sapphire Gine (sic)
Barcardi Carta Blanca
Baileys Original Irish Cream
L&P Cloudberry Liqueur
Olvi Export and Sandels Export Beer
Mineral and Tonic Waters
Orange, Apple and Tomato Juice
Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light, Fanta and Sprite Soft Drinks
Bloody Mary Mix
The meal is served all at once, apart from the dessert, on the tray. When offered my choice of main I said I had pre-ordered online the Gourmet meal. The crew went off in search of my meal and a bit of a conflab was had in the galley. On the AY website they have a pre-order menu where you can select the meal choice prior to your flight and also ex-HEL a range of other options including the Gourmet meal that I had selected.
Eventually the crew found my meal and brought the tray to me stating that it had been loaded onto the wrong trolley. She asked if I would like some of the soup and when I agreed she poured some into a bowl. I was then asked if I would care for some wine and water. I went with the French red and some sparkling water.
As promised no beef, but I did choose the reindeer.
The soup was lovely as most are on a plane.
The salad was fresh and tasty with the balsamic dressing.
The reindeer was beautifully pink inside and very tender. In a reversal of the norm it was the star of the show and the vegetables were only so-so.
Bread was offered and more wine and bread made their way past my seat as I sat enjoying the meal and watching the dawn/dust and Russian landscape pass by beneath me.
The tray was cleared and I was asked if I would care for fruit or the dessert. I couldn’t resist the cappuccino dessert, a cup of coffee and some of the luscious dessert wine.
After the meal I set the seat down into its slopey bed position that wasn’t too much of a slope on this aircraft. I had a fitful nights sleep that wasn’t hindered by the bed but by my being ‘awake’. Late in the flight I did actually get some decent sleep though and was woken around 2 hours and fifteen minutes out of Singapore when the lights were turned on. One annoyance during the night was the constant rattling of something in the overhead panel.
I was asked if I got some sleep by the crew as they handed out a hot towel.
I sat myself upright as the crew got ready for the breakfast service.
Vegetable crepes, bratwurst sausages and fava beans in tomato sauce
Breakfast muesli, yoghurt
There were no choices for breakfast apart from do you want any or not.
The service started from the front this time and worked back towards the four of us holding up the rear. Again the whole deal was served on the tray at once.
The crepes were particularly nice and I washed the meal down with some apple juice.
The meal was done and dusted and cabin cleared at least 1 hours and 25 minutes prior to landing. The crew then all sat about the galley eating their own breakfast.
We flew into Singapore on time and landed at 16:10 and made a lengthy taxi to the gate.
This flight on Finnair was a combination of good and bad, the hard product is now very dated and the IFE pretty weak. However the crew were very personable and lovely and the food and wine were excellent. The only soft product change I would make is for them to stop serving the whole meal in one go. The main course got a little cold whilst I was eating the salad a soup.
I thanked the crew and left the aircraft and made the long walk up to the QF/BA lounge complex. QF announced a few weeks back that they were refurbishing the lounges in Singapore and they have changed the lounge access. First, Business and OW Emerald now use the old Business class lounge and OW Sapphire use the old First lounge.
I was invited inside the Business lounge, the first time for me in years. I asked about a shower and was directed to the rear of the lounge. An attendant their offered amenities and sent me off into a shower room.
After a refreshing shower, albeit without much in the way of water pressure, and a change of clothes made me feel like new. Now only a 3 and half hour wait and another 7 hours on a plane before reaching my destination.
The lounge was quite large and had two food stations with soup, salad and anti pasta and of course the ice cream bar. The champagne in the lounge was my new friend Joseph Perrier and there was a selection of 3 white and 3 red wines all from Oz.
I surfed a while and decided to go wander the duty free stores for a while stopping to pick up a bottle of bubbly. I then went back up to the lounge and re-entered. Oh dear it was heaving with people but I did manage to secure a spot at a table near one of the buffet areas. The food offerings had increased to include Vegetable curry, Noodles with mushroom, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spring Rolls and Chicken Drumlet Kara Sticks.
I grabbed a bite and a glass of Shiraz and snapped a couple of quick shots amongst the hoards. I left the lounge early again and made my way towards the gate. The flight was showing as boarding but it was still an hour before take off time. I decided to give on the priority pass lounges a whirl for something different. The rainforest lounge is upstairs near the start of the pier with the 20s gates. Inside I was told the food and non-alcoholic beverages were complimentary but I would have to pay for alcoholic drinks at the bar.
The lounge was pretty basic with some soup, noodles and sandwiches on offer along with juices, coffee and tea and other soft drinks.
After a short stay that satisfied my curiosity I made my way down to the gate.
There was no priority entrance to the security screening so I joined the lengthy queue. Security was painless after which my BP and PP were checked by SIN immigration officers. My BP was then scanned by the airline ground staff and I was welcomed by name. I made my way to the front of the lounge and found a seat near the doors.
After a 15 minute wait the doors opened and the wheel chair brigade made their way down to the plane.
An announcement was then made that boarding would commence shortly and any passengers with small children could board now along with the usual 50% of the lounge via the First, Business class and OW elites. The duty free guys arrived just in time and I was able to grab my bubbly and join the queue right at the door.
I made my way down to the aircraft avoiding the door 1 entrance in favour of the door 2 that where I could just go straight up the stairs.
Flight AY5915 (BA0015) SIN-SYD Seat 62A
Departure time: 19:55
I was greeted and invited to go up the stairs. There was no one about when I got up there so I made my way to my seat and got myself unpacked. A crewmember appeared from the cockpit and took my jacket.
Amenity kits with Elemis products were handed out and pre-departure beverages of orange juice, water or champagne were offered. Bubbly was the chosen option of course.
The menus were handed out before take off and the captain announced a short flight time of 6 hours and 35 minutes.
We pushed back at 19:56 and taxied out to the runway for a take off time of 20:14.
Once the belt sign was extinguished the crew got about the business of getting us fed and watered. One of the two upper deck crew did a drinks round whilst the other zig-zagged around the cabin taking meal orders, I presume by status.
The CSD dropped by with immigration and customs cards for Australia but didn’t greet by name or indeed introduce herself.
For my drinks with nuts I chose the now standard scotch and dry and was amused as usual (small things I know) when offered the Jonny Black or the Single Malt. Please a single malt with a mixer!
Lets see what was on offer for dinner tonight:
Thai-style crab salad
Roast peppers with Ricotta
Fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette
Grilled fillet steak marinated in red wine with asparagus, carrots and celeriac mash
Seared breast of chicken with penne pasta in mushroom cream sauce
Pumpkin curry in coconut sauce
Chilled main course Greek salad with balsamic olive oil dressing
Double chocolate cake with vanilla sauce
A selection of cheese
A selection of fruit
Crème de Cassis gives this cocktail its distinctive taste
Crisp dry champagne and naturally sweet orange juice
Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne
Champagne Taittinger’s origin date back to 1734, and today it is one of the few Champagne Houses to be owned and actively managed by the family named on the label; Pierre Taittinger acquired the House in the early 1930’s. Taittinger Brut Reserve characterises the House style, which uses a high percentage of Chardonnay in the blend. Such Chardonnay dominance helps create a style of delicacy and finesse that merits the Gold Medal awarded at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2010. Its lean palate has considerable depth and elegance with a long, fresh finish making it a perfect aperitif.
Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet 2010, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, Burgundy, France
This is fine premier cru, dry, crisp and thirst quenching. Marked by the fresh citrusm, mineral, and seashell notes that are associated with the classic 1er Cru Chablis, this one also has a distinctively moreish lemon syllabub character. It is produced by a top Domaine undergoing conversion to biodynamic production, hence the ladybird on the label. It pairs well with the salads, while meats and seafood dishes.
Pemberly Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Pemberton, Western Australia.
A bright, fresh, zingy, wine with stacks of grassy, gooseberry Sauvignon fruit made by cult winemaker Rob Bowen. The 2011 has just garnered its first fold of the 2012 award season in Singapore, surely the first of many. Pemberton is a new wine area 335 km south of Perth in the southwest corner of the continent. Equally as good served as an aperitif as it is paired with any of our fish dishes.
Chateau Faugeres 2007, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France.
2007 is a vintage known for its pronounced fruit flavours, and this example is no exception. It is rich in black cherry and bramble fruit characters, dense tannins, vanilla, liquorice, cigar and coffee notes. An intensely aromatic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that has been aged for 14 months in a mix of new and used French oak barrels to create a complexity and charm worthy of 90 points from wine critic Robert Parker. Enjoy it with the steak.
The Gentleman, Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Eden Valley, South Australia.
2010 was a fantastic vintage for Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Produced by the youthful Teusner estate, which has already been rated five stars by local wine authority, James Halliday, The Gentleman is no exception. The concentrated blackberry, blackcurrant and cassis flavours, combined with layers of espresso, mocha, liquorice and eucalyptus, demonstrate why. Intense and full bodied, it is perfect to savour on its own or with cheese or spicy dishes.
APERITIFS AND COCKTAILS
Messenes Crème de Cassis
Glenlivet 15-year-old Malt
Johnnie Walker Black
Drambuie 15-year-old Speyside Malt Liqueur
Otard VSOP Cognac
Fuller’s London Pride
Sparkling Mineral Water
Still Mineral Water
TWININGS TEA ROOM
A selection of refreshing teas and infusions including: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Pure Green, Peppermint, Camomile and Cranberry, Raspberry and Elderflower
I began with the crab salad that was served on the tray with the green salad. The crab salad had small container of thai style sauce to go with it and the green salad had the rapeseed and balsamic dressing.
Both of these starter items were acceptable in quality and taste.
Hold on to your hats but I chose the chicken for the main course and it was indeed quite tender and juicy and very satisfying indeed. Along with both courses I was drinking the Sauvignon Blanc white wine that was perfectly acceptable.
I opted for the dessert over the cheese when offered and it was washed down with a Baileys on ice.
I fired up the IFE and watched a movie filled with relics set in a relic of a building in India. It was most enjoyable.
After the movie it was time to see if I could get some more kip before landing in Sydney. I had already changed into my LX F daks and a t-shirt so I laid the seat back down and bounced around on the spring board for a while, ah this is BA’s Olympic efforts huh, the BA spring board bed marathon. The BA J seat, although many rave about it I don’t; I find it narrow and constricted and too short unless you score one of the select seats with unlimited legroom. When made into the bed the top half of the bed bounces up and down as you put pressure on it. In the night as you roll over it keeps bouncing up and down and is a right pain.
I did get some sleep during the night but needed to get up to grab water a couple of times until the crew member gave me a bottle of water.
Chilled fruit juice
An energising fruit smoothie
Cereal with chilled milk
Warm bacon roll
A selection of warm breads and breakfast pastries
Lights on with 1 hour and 40 minutes to go to Sydney and the crew came around with a hot towel. The breakfast service then began with the offer of juice or a smoothie. The smoothie was like no other I had experienced on BA. It was not the consistency of paint and seemed to be like buttermilk with honey in it. It was nice, none the less, and I didn’t have any trouble knocking it back.
The breakfast tray came with a fruit plate and I was asked if I would like some cereal. What appeared was in fact a rather sweet strawberry bircher muesli.
After the fruit and cereal disappeared I was offered one of the infamous bacon sandwiches.
We seemed to go on a circuitous route to get into SYD, I suspect chewing up time so that we didn’t arrive until after the curfew was lifted. We landed from the south in what looked like it was going to be a water landing but the runway appeared below us just in time. A quick pull up and a short taxi to our gate and we were parked by 05:10.
I made the long walk to immigrations and used the smart gate again without issue. I then waited in the baggage hall for around 10 minutes before the belt started to move. My bag was one of the first dozen or so out and I was soon on my way outside via the customs inspection. The customs official directed me down the lane that lead straight outside.
I tossed up whether to use a taxi or the train service and opted in the end for the latter. I made my way down to the station and purchased a ticket. The train was along within a few minutes and 15 minutes later I popped out of the stairs at St James station under Hyde Park. I could see the Sheraton hotel across the street to my left. Two minutes walk later I entered the Sheraton at 06:00. Not bad from an international flight that pulled up to the gate only 50 minutes earlier.
As expected a room wasn’t ready for my but the agent took my bag into storage and gave me a key to use the gym for a shower and freshen up. He said I could use the executive lounge when it opened at 07:00 and they would let me know when a room was cleaned and ready for me.
After a refreshing shower I headed back down to the lobby and watched the morning new program on the TV until 07:00. I then checked in with front desk agent who informed me that my room was ready.