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Old Jul 18, 10, 9:51 am   #1
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: London
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LGW Premium Experience - LGW-MCO-LGW; BA in J (lots of photos)

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 (For historical reference my first ever 'business' trip was a Continental flight (in Y) from LGW to Newark in 2000.)

Booking Process

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
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Old Jul 18, 10, 9:51 am   #2
 
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Return Flight - BA2036; MCO-LGW, Thursday 15th July, BA in J, 3-class 777

With plenty of time to spare I'm driven back to MCO for my home flight. The airport itself is very busy, and if I'm being honest the airport is slighly tacky, and very holiday orientated. However it's a very compact airport with little walking distance required. I'm quickly up to the BA check-in area, and again there is no line for the ClubWorld check-in.

I'm in the situation again of not having an assigned seat, but after a conversation about the airplane config the check-in clerk gets me seat 5A - a rear-facing window seat with an extra 2inches of legroom for the fully-flat bed (makes a big difference for me!).

(I was expecting that 4A would be the seat I wanted, demonstrating that there are different varients of the 3-class 777 flying out of LGW)


BA Check in desks

Through the airport shops (Disney and Universal Studios!) I take the 'expert flyer' lane to security. Despite the crowds it didn't take too long, I think people slowly getting the hang of the increased security measures and having everything organised prior to arriving at security.


Appartment block ? Shopping Mall ? No, it's the inside of MCO departures.

I grab the monorail to the gates area and make my way to the Delta lounge that BA share. It was warm and friendly inside, if rather busy. There are no food options other than cookies and nuts, but the bar is well stocked and served by two bar staff. I enjoy a couple of beers while checking email on the wifi.


Delta Lounge seating area


Delta Lounge bar area

The airport is closed for a short while due to storms (and some fantastic lightening!), but this doesn't impact at all on my departure. We're called for the flight, but when I arrive at the gate it's clear it isn't ready for boarding, and I'm left to stand for about 15 minutes. Eventually we get on and I settle into 5A (which has a mis-aligned window if that sort of thing bothers you). I won't bother with photos of the seat as there are plenty of those on these forums!

A family take the seats immediately next to me (four young children, two parents). Slightly unusual for a premium cabin, but unsurprising given we're flying out of MCO in July. However, the children are all extremely well behaved throughout the flight, far better than many premium passengers I've shared cabins with. (I don't mean to offend by bringing this subject up, but it's a matter often debated on the BA forums).


Champagne and cashew nuts (have they enhanced the macademia nuts?)

Dinner saw me enjoy a duck salad, fillet of beef, and cherry desert. The timing on this flight didn't work for me. I appreciate it was an early evening flight, but it took forever for the dinner run to start, meaning we were about 2.5hours into the flight before dinner was being cleared away. Given they start breakfast with 1.5hours to go, this only leaves about 4hours for sleep on this 8 hour flight. I would have preferred a very fast service after take off to maximise sleep - particularly because there is no option to eat anything on the ground.


Duck starter


Fillet main course (please don't hate me for drinking white wine with red meat)

The crew on this flight weren't as good as the outbound, but certainly nothing to complain about (potentially I was just tired and grumpy). Breakfast was the standard fruit, pastries and bacon roll, with two cups of coffee.

I was treated to another very smooth landing, absolutely spot on time. A very short line through passport control, and seeing as I had no luggage I was quickly through customs and back to landside.


Breakfast (before I got my bacon roll)


View from 38,000 feet prior to our desent into LGW

I was keen to try the arrivals lounge to compare to LHR, and seeing as I was catching the train back to LTN, a shower was very welcomed. The arrivals lounge is located in Sofitel Hotel attached to the north terminal, only a few minutes walk.


Entrance to the hotel


Hotel Foyer - doors at the other end are the lounge elevator entrance

The entrance is located at the far end of the hotel foyer, you use an elevator to get down one level. The lounge was very quiet, so I opted for the shower straight away with absolutely no waiting time. The shower was fantastic, and made all the difference after 4 hours sleep.


Shower room

Back into the lounge I helped myself to more pastries, and orange juice and a coffee. No hot breakfast options other than toast - slightly disappointing as I could have really murdered another bacon sandwich.


Arrivals Lounge seating area

I need to get back to the south terminal for the train station, and that should have take 2 minutes (the hotel is immediately next to the monorail), however the rail system was broken (a fault on both lines), meaning a trek back through the terminal to take a bus replacement service. It's a total shambles with tired passengers pushing and shoving, and a complete lack of any buses! It takes about an hour to get between terminals before I'm on the platform to catch the train back to LTN.


Broken monorail system


Overall an experience with no complaints. The ground service at LGW isn't as good as LHR T5, but you can get through the airport faster. The service in the air was a solid performance from BA with no complaints from me, other than the timing of the dinner service on the return. I doubt many people would choose LGW over LHR unless routing forces it, or your domestic proximity to LGW makes for a better option.
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Old Jul 18, 10, 10:06 am   #3
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Thanks for the report. Nice to see a BA report from LGW for a change, particularly with good pictures from the lounge.
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Old Jul 18, 10, 11:00 am   #4
 
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Nice report malkie

I fly regularly in and out of LGW in J but can never be bothered to write a report, so thanks for taking the time
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Old Jul 19, 10, 6:09 am   #5
 
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Nice report!

Quote:
please don't hate me for drinking white wine with red meat
I'll give you a pass just this once!
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Old Jul 19, 10, 4:50 pm   #6
 
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Good Report!
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Old Jul 19, 10, 9:13 pm   #7
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Excellent trip reports! I'm glad you had a great trip to MCO for a few days. So did you go to Disney World or Universal Studio? You did fabulous job to writing the trip reports. I'm sure you can try to take a photos inside the aircraft or try take a pictures at departure hall in MCO. Do you still enjoyable flying to MCO for 3 days and you didn't want spent for whole weeks in Florida?
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Old Jul 19, 10, 9:53 pm   #8
 
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To be honest, I don't normally check out BA trip reports but I decided to check this one out and It was a lot of fun. Great story and pictures. Thanks for taking my with you to Orlando and back.
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Old Jul 20, 10, 5:20 am   #9
 
Join Date: May 2009
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I'm glad you enjoyed it There are a lack of LGW photo reports, hence the motivation to write this one.

Quote:
So did you go to Disney World or Universal Studio?.......... Do you still enjoyable flying to MCO for 3 days and you didn't want spent for whole weeks in Florida?
Sadly my schedule didn't permit any free time - it was literally off the aircraft to an evening meeting, following by work all through Tuesday and Wednesday. There were a few hours on Thursday between close the meetings and my return flight (as the domestic US guys had earlier flights), but not really enough time to visit anywhere or do any shopping.

Usually my work allows me complete control over my travel bookings, meaning I often take time before or after a TATL flight to have a mini-holiday. I don't fly that often, so almost every time is worth taking extra days. Sadly this trip was a group-booking meaning I couldn't change anything and had to return with the rest of the group.

Otherwise I would have flown into MCO, but then out of IAD to visit friends in DC for a few days.
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Old Aug 10, 10, 3:14 am   #10
 
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Wonderful report!
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Old Aug 17, 10, 8:24 am   #11
 
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Thank you for taking the time to do a TR out of LGW, have not been there since 2002, probably changed an awful lot since then, thanks again anyway
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Old Aug 17, 10, 8:43 am   #12
 
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Agree with everyone, well done! Hope you will post more reports. Nice and concise, good pics too.
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Old Aug 17, 10, 9:18 am   #13
 
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""Appartment block ? Shopping Mall ? No, it's the inside of MCO departures.""




It 's the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.


http://orlandoairport.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp
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Old Aug 18, 10, 8:19 pm   #14
 
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Great trip report with some excellent pictures to boot. MCO was my home airport for almost eight years. I do agree though, it is a bit of a tourist trap.

Question for you, the reason you were in Orlando would not have anything to do with a certain company that has the initials of GSK by chance would it?
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Old Aug 19, 10, 1:47 pm   #15
 
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Quote:
It 's the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.
Thanks for that! I genuinely wouldn't have believed it was a hotel, despite it really looking like a hotel. Perfect location for flying out.

Quote:
Question for you, the reason you were in Orlando would not have anything to do with a certain company that has the initials of GSK by chance would it?
Um, maybe! (send me a PM for more details, or if you want to say why you know!).
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