Programs: BAEC Blue, LTSB AMD Premier, BA Amex Premier
BA CW - LGW to MCO - Trip Report (my first ever)
Date: 17 November, 2012
Route: London Gatwick, UK (LGW) to Orlando, USA (MCO)
Class: Club world
Beep. Beep. Beep. BEEP. I awoke. I was not happy. My head hurt. I recalled meeting some people from the internet the evening before, drinking quite a bit of champagne, some of those jaegar bomb chappies and then not a lot more…Let’s rewind 48 hours. It was around 5:20 when I left my office and jumped in a cab to meet Pan Galactic, who had very kindly offered me his spare Avios.com birthday party ticket. I was slightly anxious as I don’t usually meet people from the internet. Arriving outside of Vinopolis in Borough Market, London, I waited outside the venue for the mysterious man to arrive. After embarrassingly waiting outside of the wrong entrance I finally met an FT’er for the very first time. Hands were shaken and we headed in to the venue, past two fairly imposing bouncers. A tasting glass, and a rather pointless bag, were handed to us and we were in! Swiftly Rome77 and Pan Galactics brother and friend joined us and we headed off, sniffing the air for champagne. Failing to find champagne, we found some English Sparking Wine that was rather tasty. Whilst chucking back some of England’s finest we saw the immortal word “Bollinger”, oh hello pretty lady. Off we sauntered, casually, you don’t want to be too full on with these things and scare the pretty one away. Just a little taste to begin with. A mere tease of the palette. Followed by several more teases, each one making the £130 bottle of 2002 vintage James Bond edition Bollinger look all the more tempting. We refrained from that particular purchase. The night then blurred into one fuzzy memory of drinking our way around the world. Come 8:30 and it was time for us to depart, I had already ordered an Addison Lee to take me back to a colleagues leaving drinks near my office; the other FT’ers present decided to join, excellent. Well, excellent was what I thought at the time, come 8 o’clock the next morning when I was heading in to the office for a rough, in many ways, day, I concluded that it was absolutely not excellent.
As I’m an accountant I will fast forward to Friday evening, I am very sure you do not wish to hear about me reviewing excel spreadsheets and talking about IFRS adjustments! So, it was Friday night, the big Canary Wharf Flyer Talk meeting. I was excited. Very excited. Alas, work would conspire against me. After having to report to Japan I managed to leave the office around 6:30, grabbed a pint with a mate and headed home to pack for the next day’s flight. Rapid packing ensued and I was ready to head out to Canary Wharf. A bus ride, a tube ride, a short walk and I was at All Bar One, Canary Wharf. I could already recognise through the bar window Pan Galactic and his brother, surrounded by a gathering of Avios admirers and BA brethren. I cautiously entered. Again, I should not have been cautious. Every person I spoke to, I am afraid I did not speak to everyone, was charming, witty and just plain lovely. I seem to recall the evening passing very quickly, with yet more jaegar bombs and it was soon time to jump on the Jubilee line and head back home. On arriving home I completed my last minute packing and decided that with camera bag, laptop bag, golf bag and suitcase to carry to the airport, public transport was very much out of the question. A quick call to the excellent Crawfords Cars and a Mercedes was soon organised for the morning.
Beep. Beep. Beep. BEEP. Back to the beginning. I awoke, Not in the best of moods. My head was banging. I was tired. A weird mix of tired and excited to be going on holiday, you all know the feeling. Heaving myself out of bed I got myself ready for my travels and double checked I had the important bits and pieces for my journey. A sudden panic. I hadn’t had a text from Crawfords, it was nearly time for my car to arrive and for me to depart. A quick phone call soon put my mind at rest, my driver had already arrived and was patiently waiting outside. I gathered my bags, locked my flat and headed on out.
En route I had an update from Tripit, everything was on track and we were due to depart on time. Excellent. I also checked what plane I would be on, according to BAsource.com it would be G-VIIT, which had just flown in from a week of maintenance at Cardiff. Time passed quickly and we had arrived.
I had forgotten to bring any locks, so popped off to London News Company, part of WH Smith apparently, and purchased two combination locks. Bags secured, I headed off to check-in. In Zone A, BA check in, the Club Class counters were all busy. An alert BA staff member spotted this and ushered me over to First Class check in. It was a small thing, but nice that they were on the ball. Electronic boarding pass shown, bags checked and I was off the oversize baggage to drop off my golf clubs. Everything sorted and I was on to Premium Gatwick.
Hmmmm, not very impressive. It felt like a temporary structure and the staff seemed to be very confused by my electronic boarding pass. Not ideal. Also not ideal, the queue was fairly long and people were moving very slowly. About 15-20 minutes later and I was at the front of the queue. From here on, things improved. The security staff were humorous, polite and efficient, top stuff! Away from security and I headed to the lounge, I was already not particularly looking forward to it. How right I was. The lounge was almost completely full, I had to hunt for a spare seat, which isn’t exactly a premium experience. I also found the found offering pretty poor, beans of toast, porridge and a few pastries doesn’t strike me as good enough. Although I guess they need to differentiate between GC and GF. The staff were excellent though, very friendly and they were clearing glasses and plates very promptly. Anyway, I digress, I managed to find a seat next to a charming Scottish chap who was travelling with his wife to Cancun. I don’t think you are members of this forum, but if you are, it was a true pleasure meeting you. Mr Scot and his wife decided to partake in a glass of champagne and purely in the interests of not making them feel uncomfortable, I decided to join them. Whilst checking Flyer Talk I realised that I didn’t know what power source would be on board; fortunately Swanhunter, thank you, responded and I was able to buy a US power adaptor for use on board (not that it worked…). Heading out of the lounge, I got a phone call, it was polomarco who was in the LGW lounge. I briefly popped back to shake hands and have a quick chat, sorry I couldn’t stay for longer.
I headed on to gate 58, slightly rushing as I had left it a little late to leave the lounge. Of course, on arrival at the gate I noticed that no one had started boarding yet. I handed my electronic boarding card and passport to the lady at the gate, she called me sir and told me I was welcome to board immediately as I was a club world passenger. I got half way down the airbridge and came to a grinding halt. The aircraft door had yet to be opened, I don’t know why they bother getting people to “board” before they’ve even opened the doors. Anyway, nevermind, it was hardly a big issue. The door opened and boarding commenced. I was welcomed on board and told to turn left to seat 4A. What an excellent seat on the 777-200, lots of privacy and no need to step over anyone to exit to the aisle.
The BA CW seat is, in my opinion, excellent. I haven’t flown J on other carriers, so can’t compare, but I think the hard product on BA suits me very well. There is a great deal of privacy, the seat in comfortable (although a little narrow) and there’s almost infinite space to stretch out. I do agree with some posters comments that stepping over people is pretty annoying though.
The aircraft seemed clean initially, but on closer inspection it was a bit mucky in the corners. A bit disappointing given it had just spent over a week in Cardiff. Anyway, any such considerations of cleanliness were soon pushed aside when a glass of champagne was offered to me, Tattinger Brut Reserve NV, it was passable.. We pushed back and we were on our way. Or so I thought, as for some unknown reason we sat on the tarmac outside of the lounge for about ten minutes or so.
And then we were off, on to the run way and the engines powered up. I may be a 29 year old man, but I still find take-off thrilling, especially when you are looking back at the wing and you can see the engine spool up.
Once we reached cruising altitude it was time to pull out the IFE screen, which the cabin crew shortly switched on. Whilst I was searching for Ted, rather good film, but not amazing, the crew brought round the amenity kits. I didn’t bother opening it as it didn’t really look appealing. I was slightly confused by the crew, they were a mix of older and more experienced crew members and very young, energetic, but less experienced. I couldn’t work out if they were WW or MF?
The crew delivered the menu, so at least I had something to read during the infuriating adverts. How BA can justify adverts on IFE when you have paid so much for a ticket is beyond me. Anyway, I yet again digress, for those who are interested I have included the menu below:
Smoked salmon with liliput caper dill dressing
Vegetable sushi with soy sauce and wasabi paste
Fresh seasonal salad service with vinaigrette
Seared fillet steak with rustic roasted carrots, roasted thyme new potatoes, sugar snap peas and peppercorn sauce
Seared salmon and haddock fish cakes with creamed fennel sauce, carrots and asparagus and celery medley
Penne pasta with bocconcini mozzarella and gazpacho sauce
Chilled main course salad of honey mustard chicken with roasted potato and grain mustard
Back Forest gateau
Butler’s Secret mature Cheddar and Blacksticks Blue cheese
A selection of fruit
An individual selection of sandwiches featuring prawn with lemon mayonnaise and beef with horseradish
Plain or fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves
Chablis 2010, Domaine Louis Moreau, Bordeaux, France
Waimea Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Nelson, New Zealand
Ermita de San Felices Reserva 2005, Rioja, Spain
Rheboksfkloop Shiraz 2009, Coastal Region, South Africa
Tattinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne
There is also a range of soft drinks and other alcoholic beverages that I cannot be bothered to type out in full.
After a few minutes to study the menu the crew were walking the aisles taking orders, I decided to go for the salmon and the steak. I decided I would probably follow with cheese, as the sweet deserts didn’t tempt me much. Shortly after ordering my meal I was offered another glass of champagne, it would be rude to refuse the offer from such courteous cabin crew, so I decided to accept and raise a toast to FT.
By this point I was becoming quite hungry and so decided to arrange my nuts, quiet at the back, water and champagne in an appealing manner in which to take a photograph. It was around this time that the gent in the seat opposite me decided to raise, yet again, the seat divider, I can’t possible imagine why. Actually, in hind sight, I feel slightly bad for not explaining to him why I was taking photos and for not reassuring him that I would not take any photographs of him. I decided to distract myself from my stomach rumblings by gazing out the window at the quite beautiful clouds, I of course took some photos, but in doing so took my eye off my glass and left myself open to the champagne fairies, who subtly stole my champagne.
I felt much like I had done first thing that morning, sad, confused and curiously angry. Thankfully whilst watching yet more wonderful cloud formations the crew decided I was in need of another drink and offered me another round; I decided this time on the Chablis, a rather nice buttery under toned with strong citric finish wine, although served decidedly too warm.
As the wine slipped down pleasingly well, and I kept my wits about me to stop any wine fairies stealing my beverage again, I heard the buzz of a lowering divider. Food had arrived. My first thought was that it is actually quite awkward receiving food across another person, I really feel this is something that lets BA down. Although, as previously stated, I have not recently flown J on another airline I guess I cannot really compare. Right, back to the food. It looked quite nice, I thought the presentation was not bad at all, but it was time to tuck in as my stomach was rumbling.
The salmon was lovely. A superb flavour, the dressing was really excellent, complemented the salmon very well. I also thought the portion size was really good. On to the salad, which I’ve previously never really enjoyed on a BA flight, I’ve found the leaves unfresh and unappealing, the dressing rather dull and often partially frozen.
No such trouble this time. The salad was, crisp, refreshing, tasty and the apple and balsamic vinegar dressing was sublime. Starter and main finished, as you can see below, I waited patiently for the steak to arrive, somewhat anxious over what it would be like; from reading other reports I knew it would taste either OK or awful. Whilst waiting another glass of Chablis was poured, this time perfectly chilled.
After cursing BA for not providing chainsaws, I was through! Hurrah. Actually, I am being somewhat harsh, although the steak was very tough it had a really good flavour, very beefy. Overall it was pretty acceptable. The vegetables however were sublime, thank you BA for realising that veg should be crisp, fresh and not overcooked; think Viagra rather than Brewers Droop!
As black forest gateaux really isn’t my thing I decided to go for the cheese and biscuits, a desert that I so infrequently order, yet inevitably enjoy. On ordered the stewardess said “I think sir would like a glass of port with his cheese” and winked. I smiled and said “sir would love a glass of port”. Duly delivered. Now, this is what I love about BA, when you get a good crew, they are efficient, professional and yet still manage to maintain a personality. I love it.
The cheese was good, if not exceptional. I have however never enjoyed the oat cake biscuits on BA, I may be tempted to bring some crackers with me next time, but then I guess people will just think I am mad…anyone? ANYONE? No? Fine, I shall move embarrassingly on…Cheese, weird oat cake things and port, which was very nice thank you, devoured it was time for my tray to be cleared and for my laptop to emerge. Sigh, I never seem to get away from work, even on holiday. For those of you who have counted the amount of alcohol I’ve consumed and are now concerned that I am working, fear not, I was merely doing some admin; sorting emails, clearing down my laptop etc. Anyway, here is a photo of my laptop with Flyer Talk open, on a plane.
Whilst waiting for Outlook to sort itself out I devoured the chocolate, very nice indeed. Hmmm, as Outlook was taking a while to sort itself out I thought I should order a water…in the form of ice cubes…floating in Johnny Walker black…
Realising that my laptop was neither charging nor maintaining power I decided to turn it off and watch another film. Before doing so I thought I would take a couple of seat photos for those not so familiar with the BA CW seat.
Laying back in my seat I felt supremely comfortable, so much so that my bladder decided I would need to arise from my seat and find the lavatory. Curses. On the way back from the lavatory I stopped in on the Club Kitchen. Now, I thought this had Waitrose products, maybe on some routes it does, but certainly not on the MCO routing. There was an OK selection of filled rolls (an egg mayo and a cheese & tomato), crisps, biscuits and an assortment of wines and soft drinks. I guess it’s OK for what it is, but it’s pretty underwhelming. Snacking treats acquired, an egg mayo roll, a bag of tomato, olive and oregano crisps, a diet coke and a glass of red wine (I cannot recall which) I was back off to my bed to watch a movie. I of course had to wrestle through the ridiculous adverts. I swear, if I see the inane HSBC advert just one more time…After a blood pressure rising wait I was allowed to watch my movie, which was The Dark Knight Rises, which although I had seen it before, was still an excellent re-watch. Seat turned to “lounging slob mode” I switched between snoozing and watching the movie; not a bad way to pass a few hours.
The clattering from the gallery meant only one thing; afternoon tea was about to be served. Buzz went the seat divider and a small tray was passed over. I was a little underwhelmed by the presentation of the sandwiches, not even removed from the very utilitarian looking wrapper. Oh well. I tucked in and was pleasantly surprised, the sandwiches were really fresh and delicious. They tasted like they had just been made, especially for me, in the galley. Excellent.
Now on to the scone. For the life of me I could not recall whether it was jam first or cream first, sorry cornishsimon!!! So, as all good accountants do, I decided to apply some effective hedging and made one half jam first and the other cream first.
For those who care, jam first and then cream tasted better. The coffee was also OK, I know it’s a much cursed item on here, but I thought it was passable. The tray was whisked away by the excellent crew and it was time for me to start packing up my belongings, so that I could make a rapid exit from the aircraft. However, the turbulence gods would conspire against me and no sooner had I stood up, the seat belt sign pinged on. “This is your captain speaking, I am afraid we are about to enter an area of relatively heavy turbulence, so may I ask that you return to your seats”. Drat. The turbulence was not too bad in the end, I have certainly experienced worse on a flight and the cabin crew were still allowed to walk about the aircraft, which is always a good sign! The seat belt sign did not switch off again until landing, which was uneventful. Unfortunately there were engineering works on the main runway, so we landed somewhere far, far, away, it may have been another galaxy given the epic taxi time. After maybe 20 minutes taxiing we passed two Virgin Atlantic planes. Double drat. I would be queuing a long time in immigration by the looks of things.
Immigration was a bit of a pain, 40-50 minutes queuing in a super heated arrivals lounge with screaming children did not equate to fun. At least I was travelling in Club World, as I noted when I finally reached baggage reclaim that only the priority bags had made it on to the conveyor belt! Pretty ridiculous when you consider we had landed nearly an hour previous. It is time I wrap up this merry journey, I shall post a few photos and comments on the return trip, however please do give me some feedback as this is just a precursor to a much more significant, and interesting, tour of Asia in a few weeks’ time. Thank you for reading.
Check-in – 9/10Very efficient, whisked me to First Class counter
Security – 6/10Reasonable queue and felt a bit botched (the area, not the process), but the staff were great
Lounge – 4/10Just does not feel premium, too busy and terrible food choices. Nice staff and great view of airport though
Boarding – 7/10Not much to say, annoying that they didn’t open the door until I was on the air bridge, but was fairly painless
Seat – 8/10A little narrow, but roomy enough and great flexibility
Crew – 8/10Very friendly and efficient, but didn’t really walk the aisles much, except for meal service times
Food – 7/10Great starter and cheese, steak was tough but tasty and afternoon tea was nice. Alcohol and Club Kitchen both passable
Overall – 8/10I have probably been spoilt by reading reports on FT, but it was a decent flight with a good hard/soft product. No complaints.
Programs: Mucci de la Cuisine Aérienne du Réseau Courte Durée de British Airways
How can you think you are flying out of LHR when it was LGW.
You really must have had a bad hangover!!!
The crew were SFLGW which have been allowed to have new entrants join them, like BA used to do on WW, many years ago. So as a result there is a mix of older experience crew working with newer crew too.
(All my opinions are my own personal opinions and I do not speak for or on behalf of British Airways)