Most of my travels are out of T5 at LHR to the east coast USA, so I don't usually do trip reports as the T5-LHR experience is covered at length by many others, and I wouldn't be adding anything new. I do a couple of J trips to the USA per year, and where possible I'll fly with BA.
For a change, my most recent trip was out of LGW, and after a search of this forum I didn't find many photo threads covering BA J flights out of LGW, so I thought I'd add one for future reference for others. (For historical reference my first ever 'business' trip was a Continental flight (in Y) from LGW to Newark in 2000.)
This flight (like all of my work flights) was booked through my corporate TA. The advantage of this normally is that it allows non-status passengers like myself select seats at time of booking. However, this booking was part of a group which made it impossible to select seats until check-in, and also prevented me adding the booking to my online BA account. This worried my slightly as I was concerned about ended up in a rear-facing middle pair with someone I didn't know. I thought it best to get to the airport early and see what seat I could get.
Outbound flight - BA2037; LGW-MCO, Monday 12th July, BA in J, 3-class 777
I live near to LTN which makes LCC flights around Europe very easy for myself. It also means I can catch the train from LTN directly to LGW in around 1hr20mins. That's roughly the same time as it would take a taxi to take me to LHR on a good run. I didn't fancy a taxi to LGW for a morning flight.
Luton Airport Parkway train station
Absolutely no issues with the train, and I arrive at LGW south terminal about 3.5hours prior to departure. BA fly out of LGW North, so I use the recently opened monorail to skip between terminals in about 2minutes - excellent service, but something that would come to bite me on the return journey.
Approaching LGW North on the monorail
Outside of the monorail towards departures
BA Check in area - Clubworld is located towards the rear left of this area.
The check-in area was busy, but with plenty of self-service kiosks and bag drop desks. As explained earlier I couldn't OLCI, so I had to visit one of the check-in desks. There was absolutely no waiting at the ClubWorld check-in desks, so I approached and asked about available seating options. An extremely helpful clerk organised seat 1D for me as I asked for a forward facing aisle seat. Good news for me as 1D has an extra inch or so of leg room which makes all the difference for my 6foot4 frame. She also added my FF number to the booking to ensure I earned tier-points and miles for my flights.
A very short walk to security, and I'm happy to report no line at fast track either, meaning I was through in under a minute. T5 at LHR should learn how to achieve the same.
You have to walk through the entire departures area to reach the lounges at LGW - no real issue, and at least it doesn't involve multiple pointless escalator rides that you are forced into at T5 LHR (unless you are a First customer!).
Elevator with different lounges
Entrance to Terraces Lounge
Up in the elevator to the Terraces lounge on the 4th floor. Apparently there used to be a 3rd floor Terraces too, which has been closed - I'm not sure if this is due to drop in demand or for refurb into the Galleries concept. It was nice to be back in a Terraces lounge as it reminded me of very pleasant memories of the Terraces at T4 where my premium travel started many years ago.
Lounge towards food area
Terraces at LGW are very disappointing compared to Galleries at T5 - the hot food options were limited to toast only, but there were plenty of pastries and fruit on offer. Highlight for me was bumping into Formula 1's Fernando Alonso, fresh from the British GP the day before, accompanied by two heavies.
The lounge is largely L-shaped, with a quiet area towards the back with plenty of plug sockets to allow you to work effectively. Seeing that LGW serves a number of 'holiday' destinations, and we're in July there were plenty of children in the lounge. For the most part they were well behaved (a subject which leads to many a debate in the BA forum).
Lounge quiet seating area
An hour or so later I'm off to gate 62, back through the terminal and down one of the spiral ramps to the lower-level. Of note was that we were all security screened on approach to the gate - not my baggage, but my passport and return flight details. I assume this is something to do with the ESTA replacing the green waiver form. The gates here have individual holding pens, so I had a seat while waiting for the premium passengers to be called. I only had to wait about 5 minutes before they called us on - very quick piority boarding, without the shambles you often get at T5.
I settle into 1D, and was quickly offered a preflight drink - I take orange juice as it's still only 11am. I get a sneaky peak onto the flight deck as the door is still open.
View from 1D towards flight deck
After take-off we get the hot towel run and more drinks - I must say the crew were excellent in ensuring my drinks were always topped up, and frequently asked if there was anything they could do. Overall the flight staff were outstanding, and I reported that on the inflight questionaire I was offered.
For lunch I tried the blue cheese salad, followed by tandoori chicken, chocolare desert *and* an ice cream pot! All very nice, with the chicken curry working particularly well. We were left alone for the majority of the flight, but the ClubKitchen was well stocked, and staff in the galley area were quick to offer things when you approached them.
Blue Cheese Salad starter
Chicken Curry main
Desert (with bonus icecream)
For afternoon tea I had a selection of sandwiches, and a warm scone with preserve. Again, very nice, and I particularly liked the sandwiches The flight was uneventful - the occasional bit of turbulence on the flight, but nothing
noteworthy. The landing itself was textbook, and I barely knew we'd hit the tarmac.
Immigration was a total nightmare. I've seen lines at US immigration before, but nothing like this - it was well over an hour wait to reach the front of the line, and the children in the line were starting to get extremely tetchy (which I can understand, as I was too).
You could tell this was a 'holiday' destination as there were approximately 25 visitors desks, and 1 US passport holders desk. I'm guessing the residents of Orlando don't go to London on holiday.
Post immigration and customs was just as hectic. They were preventing passengers leaving the area to catch the monorail to the main terminal as were isn't enough space on the platform, and only a single escalator serving the platform. After the wait at immigration this wasn't met with joy by the passengers. Nevertheless after a short wait I'm on the monorail, and out of the main terminal.
Hotel Accomodation; Double Tree, Orlando
I'm collected at arrivals by my driver who takes me to my hotel for the next three nights. I'm staying in the Double Tree Orlando (again booked by my corporate TA), which was about 0minutes from the airport. Apparently it's next door to SeaWorld, but sadly my schedule doesn't allow for any free time. At check-in I'm offered a warm cookie, which I take and enjoy (and begins the spiral of me eat way too much food on a trip to the US).
The hotel consists of a single large tower block, with ~15 two story blocks around it. I'm in one of the two story blocks, which reminds me somewhat of motel accomodation from the outside! However, inside the room the huge, with far more space than I can possible use for myself. I have a suite with lounge, bedroom, kitchen and reasonably sized bathroom.
Lounge area of hotel room
Kitchen area of hotel room
Through to bedroom area