Go Back   FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Sign in using an external account

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Feb 25, 06, 2:24 pm   #1
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Programs: BAEC Gold, BD Gold, Lufthansa FTL plus lots of shiny hotel and rental car plastic
Posts: 17,082
BA First: London-Cape Town-London (w/pics)

Route: London Heathrow (Terminal 4) - Cape Town
Airline: British Airways
Flight number: BA043
Aircraft: Boeing 747-436
Registration: G-CIVA
Seat: 02A (First)
Distance: 5994 miles
Duration: 11hrs 30mins
Date: Friday 10th February


This trip had been booked for almost a year at the time of the flight and over the months before I had watched the cabin fill up around us with our pre-assigned seats of 2A and 2K secure for that period. I had checked the couple of days before and it looked like the flight was full, indeed First was showing as F0 A0 which indicates no seats for sale in First! I was a little nervous about being moved from my seats and would have checked in online 24hrs before apart from the fact I was halfway across the Atlantic ( UA Business Class IAD-LHR-IAD ) at this time so sent my brother instructions on how to secure our seats. A quick telephone call from the hotel upon our arrival confirmed my brother had checked us in to our seats in row 2.

We woke up the following day and as the weather was so nice we decided to forgo the convenience of the Hotel Hoppa and went for the free buses around Heathrow. I thought it was a short walk from the Sheraton Heathrow to the nearest bus stop and had I been alone I'd do it again but with all the luggage between my girlfriend and myself it was a little more of a challenge, especially when combined with efforts of getting from the Central Bus Station to the Heathrow Express at Terminal 3. I don't usually connect at Heathrow so my knowledge of such things is quite poor! In the future I'll avoid doing it, especially as I managed to cut my hand somewhere and wheeling my luggage along had caused me to get blood all across my trousers The advantage of the doing this was that as we emerged from the depths of the Heathrow Express we were right in front of First check-in.


BA First check-in at Terminal 4

I went to the first desk I could see and was asked if I was a oneworld Emerald or travelling in First. I was told travelling in First took precedent and was directed to another desk where we were checked in. Our gate had already been pre-assigned even though we were there 3hrs before and fortunately it was Gate 10, right across from the Lounge Pavilion for lazy folks like me!

We made a beeline for Fast Track security but were held back as an enormous group of school children were coming into the terminal. The area was cordoned off and passengers on either side were kept away. Fast Track was pretty smooth apart from the fact all the schoolchildren were then siphoned off in just behind us, not good for those a few minutes behind us!

We toddled off to the Lounge Pavilion and got our boarding passes swiped at the Concorde Room. The thing bleeped...in a bad way. I knew the flight was full and thought it may be the time we are offered a fat load of cash to sit in Club World for a few hours. One of the guys behind the desk said, 'Ohhh, this is Fraser and Kirstin'. They handed me an envelope and it turned out to be left by a couple of friends who were travelling in First to Delhi that morning. The letter advised me to stay away from the Monopole champagne and go for the Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis, well duh of course! It was certainly good news to hear the Concorde Room had some quality champagne as this was one of my gripes on my last visit a few months before ( BA First: London Heathrow-Washington Dulles )

As we were hungry we decided to order some food and drink from the bar and then go and book our massages at the Molton Brown Spa downstairs. I was well aware that close to departure it could get booked up so thought the earlier the better. I was slightly dismayed to find out that only one appointment was available and this was for 4pm, a little close to the 4.45pm departure time than I'd have liked. It goes without saying I let my girlfriend have the treatment, as nice as they are I've had plenty in the last couple of years it would have been mean of me not to give it to her!

We came back upstairs to the Concorde Room and took a seat at the bar and enjoyed a glass of the Alfred Gratien each, my girlfriend had a salad to go with it and I took the now infamous bacon roll


My girlfriend enjoying a glass of the Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis and a salad


Glass of Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis and bacon baguette. Despite what your eyes are telling you it is in fact tomato ketchup and brown sauce in the dishes. My camera is just playing up!

Both were rather good and came very fast and the other dishes on the menu were of interest so we ordered another glass of champagne each, this time the Rose version of the aforementioned Alfred Gratien and I ordered the smoked salmon salad with couscous and my girlfriend took the pasta dish.


Smoked salmon and couscous salad with glass of the Rose Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis

After this we ordered another glass of the Rose each and took a seat over beside the internet workstations in the corner. I briefly went onto the net to check my email and write down a little convertor table from South African Rand to US Dollars and then took a seat in the main part of the lounge. It was rather busy so it was harder than anticipated to get a pair of seats that were not littered with the remains of the previous occupants!






The Concorde Room - British Airways flagship lounge at Heathrow. Images taken from a number different visits

We enjoyed a couple of drinks over the next hour or so before Kirstin headed down for her back massage. Due to the length of the massage I suggested she met me onboard, however as it was clear that our boarding was delayed I asked the lady at the desk to call down to the Molton Brown Spa and ask Kirstin to return to the Concorde Room after her massage. I sat below the screen displaying boarding times supping on a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label from the bar and had a couple of glasses of water. I happened to notice Kirstin walking towards Gate 10 and so I chased after her, it appeared the message relayed that she was late for the flight and must hurry! We went back to the lounge and had another drink before our flight went yellow, indicating boarding had commenced.

We made the short walk to the gate but were given short shrift by the uniformed BA member of staff. 'Business Class?' she uttered expecting a negative response, 'First Class ok?', 'Even better' she replied and she just about managed a smile. I wish I had a better response in these situations, 'Oh dear, we aren't in Business Class, Sorry. Oh before I go can you tell me where First Class board?'

My girlfriend was slightly ahead of me on the jetway and at the boarding pass check was given the escort to her seat. I was close behind and so didn't get the treatment but then of course it is more of a courtesy thing, I am able to find my seat! As I was settling in with putting bags in the overhead the seats filled up around us. An invitation for a pre-takeoff drink was made and we both took a glass of the Alfred Gratien, alas on board only the regular version was available but I was far from complaining.


Nuts and glass of Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis champagne. The brown bag is the current incarnation of the BA First BAg and the black box are my headphones

The Anya Hindmarch BAgs were handed out, as were menus and sleeper suits which we both changed into and I quickly hurried my selection on 'First View' back to the cabin crew. First View is a personal video selection in addition to the regular onboard IFE with about 30 movies and you have the ability to stop, fast forward etc, a sort of stone age AVOD but I like it. The selection is usually very varied from contemporary to classic to foreign films so I went for March of the Penguins first and Forrest Gump second with my three other choices being of less interest. Alas someone had already beaten me to my first choice so Forrest Gump was brought out. The safety video was subsequently played.


My girlfriend enjoying the space of seat 2K

The captain announced every seat onboard was taken this evening and that as a result we were a little behind schedule. I wasn't too fussed about being behind schedule and I was looking forward to the rest of the flight and the beginning of my vacation. We taxied across from Terminal 4 to the north side of the airfield and it was apparent that in the nose of the 747 you are some way in front of the nosewheel itself, something I had forgotten from my last 747 F trip a few years back! This was evident as you think are going past a taxiway then notice you are turning into it and think you are going to hit the grass You'll see this if you watch the takeoff video as we pull onto the runway. Those on the left hand side were then treated to a rather close up view of G-BOAB, the Concorde parked beside the 05/23 runway and this indicated that we were close to the runway.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OXl7QuciWQ
Takeoff as seen from seat 2A.

You'll notice how we swing right around onto the runway and the bumps which are caused by running on top of the runway lights. Also of note is the sound of the undercarriage coming up which isn't as evident in the video as it is in the cabin. Terminal 5 is on view as we rotate.

We banked around rather sharply soon after takeoff and headed pretty much due south. About twenty minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was switched off and canapes were brought round as well as another glass of champagne which we had ordered before takeoff.


Canapes, menu, glass of Alfred Gratien and Anya BAg

Our orders were taken from the menu and I took this opportunity to let Tony, our purser know that myself and Kirstin were going to be dining together for that evening. The menu was as follows:

________________________

DINNER

Welcome to the FIRST dining experience, where you are in control of when and what you eat. Please create your own menu combination, from a light meal to a complete meal.

STARTERS

Lobster and crayfish with passion fruit dressing

Potato and truffle frittata with rocket and sherry vinaigrette

Spicy butternut squash soup with harissa dressing

Fresh salad leaves with your choice of piquillo pepper dressing or Blue cheese and walnut dressing

MAIN

Rack of lamb with a herb crust, buttered potatoes fondantes and a natural jus

Green herbed chicken with cumin and pine kernel potatoes, creamy black lentils, spicy wilted spinach and basil poori

Sauteed fillet of beef Stroganoff and pilau rice

Poached Loch Fyne salmon, asparagus and potato salad with a lemon dressing

DESSERT

Warm fig tart with vanilla ice cream

Fresh berries lasagne with Mascarpone cream

SNACKS

Bacon roll served with tomato ketchup

Penne pasta with your choice of creamy Parmesan cheese and spinach sauce or olive, caper and tomato sauce

A selection of sweet biscuits

A selection of cheese and fruit

CHEESE PLATE

Lancashire - This cheese continues a long tradition of mild flavourful English farmhouse cheeses.

Peyrigoux - Hailing from France's Perigord region, this creamy cheese is made from cow's milk

Gorgonzola - Arguably the most famous cheese of Lombardy, Gorgonzola is a blue pasteurised cow's milk cheese with an earthy flavour.

A basket of fresh fruit.

Your choice of
Espresso, cappuccino, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea or herbal tea


________________________

The wine list was also as followed and included a couple of South African wines from close to Cape Town which I thought was a nice touch.

________________________

CHAMPAGNE

Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis

A remarkably luxurious deluxe cuvee Champagne produced from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, exclusively, grand cru vineyards. This was a big favourite in the Concorde Cellar.


WHITE WINES

Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignieres 2003, Domaine Roux Pere et Fils

This is a powerful, rich and complex wine from an excellent producer made in one of the world's greatest sources of dry white wine

Three Choirs Estate Reserve Bacchus 2004
Bacchus is an intensely aromatic grape variety admirably suited to England's cool climate - in this case Gloucestershire. There's lots of crisp orchard fruit aromas and flavours and good depth and length

Spier Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Stellenbosch
An elegant, velvety yet full-bodied dry white wine with concentrated green pepper and grassy flavours and a lingering finish


RED WINES

Chateau Beychevelle 1995, Grand Cru Classe Saint-Julien

Chateau Beychevelle is an architectural gem in the tiny commune of Saint-Julien and the wines are equally stunning! This is elegant with firm tannins. candied fruit and a generous hint of spice.

Errazuriz Don Maximano Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Aconcagua Valley
This is one of the most stylish wines ever to come out of Chile with a luscious raspberry and blackberry aroma, spicy tannins and a long silky finish

Simonsig Tiara 2000, Stellenbosch
An amazing aroma of roast fennel and cigar box leads into a classic and intense mocha and black fruits flavour


DESSERT WINES

Opitz Goldackerl Trockenbeerenauslese 2002, Austria
Austria makes some of the finest sweet wines in the world. The effervescent Willi Opitz, from his tiny vineyards in Illmitz near the Hungarian border, produces some of the very best in the country.

Warre's 1988 Colheita Port
Complex, sweet, nutty flavours offer and admirable after-dinner glass.


SPIRITS, DIGESTIFS AND LIQUERS

We offer a complete range of classic and timeless spirits, digestifs and liquers including Gonzalez Byass Sherries, Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whisky, Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Smirnoff Black Label Vodka, The Glenlivet 18-year-old Single Malt Whisky, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Whiskey and Camus XO Cognac.


SOFT DRINKS

A selection of traditional and modern drinks including Coca Cola, Highland Spring still or sparkling mineral water.


_________________________


About 15mins after the canapes had been and gone I took a seat in Kirstin's buddy seat and the table was set for dinner. I have to say I rather like the buddy seat for short period of time as the view out of the window is much better, and well it is more fun to sit opposite each other at dinner! We both opted for a glass of the Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc to accompany our bread which was on it's way round the cabin.


Lobster and crayfish with passion fruit dressing

This was a rather delicious way to start the meal, although lobster itself lacks a great deal of flavour the other food around it complemented it perfectly

As Tony cleared away our starter we noted it was our first time in First together and were enjoying the buddy experience so far and asked if he would take our picture which he did, complete with the bears you may have seen in my other reports!


Myself, Kirstin and our ursine companions enjoying the First meal service in 2K somewhere above southern France

The next course was dinner, I had opted for the beef Stroganoff and Kirstin the salmon


Sauteed fillet of beef Stroganoff and pilau rice and Poached Loch Fyne salmon, asparagus and potato salad with a lemon dressing. A couple of glasses of Spier Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2005 and some Alfred Gratien appear to have found their way in there!

Once again my beef was excellent, the rice was a little dry in places but heck I can't begin to think how tough it would be to cook rice in the air without drying the stuff out! Kirstin's salmon got a big thumbsup too

It was now about an hour since I had sat down for dinner and the buddy seat was beginning to pinch a little! This was averted by careful position of a pillow around me and Tony then took our orders for dessert. We both opted for the Fresh berries lasagne with Mascarpone cream. I also recommended Kirstin try the Opitz dessert wine which was a big hit on my previous First trip a few months ago.


Fresh berries lasagne with Mascarpone cream and Opitz Goldackerl Trockenbeerenauslese 2002, Austria

Following the end of the meal the aircraft was just crossing North Africa and so we both retired to our individual seats to get some well earned sleep. Bottles of water were handed out by the crew and also placed on the shelf in front of seats 4E and 4F.

After a couple of bottle of water I take a walk down to the back of the aircraft and use the rather handy shelf by the back rear doors to do some leg stretches before heading back to my bed. Unlike everyone else in the cabin I was sleeping with my head at the feet end and on top of the duvet with the First blanket on top of me. It felt rather cosy doing it this way round as I find the headrest lifts my head too far off the seat the regular way round and also the fact the plane is slightly nose high in level flight means I usually wake up feeling better doing it back to front. I woke up about 3hrs out of Cape Town, a little too early for my liking but never mind. I helped myself to some more water and took another stroll down to the back of the aircraft.


My bear trying to get some sleep whilst over southern Africa

I got my music player out and listened to a favourite Sasha Essential Mix from last year for a short period of time and sat as we tracked down off the coast of Southern Africa, all the while supping on a couple of bottles of water.

About 90minutes or so out of Cape Town I popped up my window shades and it was clear breakfast service was being prepared behind me. It was my girlfriend's turn to come over and take up the buddy seat so we leafed through the menu to select our choices. I had a glass of orange juice to start which came nicely with a toothpicked slice of orange across the glass.

________________________


BREAKFAST

STARTERS


Chilled fruit juice

An energising fruit smoothie

A selection of fruit or plain yoghurts and cereals

Fresh seasonal fruit plate


BAKERY

A wide selection of breakfast pastries and rolls


MAIN

Scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, pork sausages, sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomato and hash-brown potatoes

Haddock and salmon kedgeree

Apple and sultana crepes with Mascarpone and cinnamon cream



________________________

I went for the muesli although my girlfriend didn't seem too keen when she tried a little so avoided that and the other cereal options and went with the fruit plate


Muesli on the near side with fruit plate in the far corner. As you can see from the angle of the coffee we were going through a patch of turbulence!

After this was cleared away I asked for the scrambled eggs and all that but it appears the message was mixed and only the scrambled eggs arrived.


Scrambled eggs and toast

This was the only disappointing aspect of the meal service on this flight. The toast was a bit limp and eggs tasted a bit odd. Nevermind, in hindsight I've had ordered a couple of bacon rolls off the snack menu but you can't win them all!

Customs forms were handed out soon after breakfast was cleared away and I remembered I had some shopping to do, got myself a couple of free adaptors which are always a bonus {thumbsup} and cleared most of my other garb away as we neared Cape Town. Everyone was awake by now and shutters came up to reveal a very bright and sunny morning in the Western Cape. I went and changed out of my pyjamas and freshened up for a new day on a new continent. Those on the right hand side of the aircraft were treated to a great view of Table Bay, Cape Town and Table Mountain itself as we came in on final approach. So I passed my girlfriend my camera and asked her to take a photo. It was apparent everyone was peering out the window to gain a look.


Table Bay, Table Mountain and Cape Town itself as seen from seat 2K. The smaller mountain on the right hand side is Lion's Head.

We landed on runway 19 at about 6.35am and taxied round to the international terminal. We disembarked from 2L which meant all the folks in Club World got a head start to immigration. To be honest it didn't bother me as the office where our rental car was booked from didn't open until 8am so a little wait to kill the time was welcome. Immigration was painless, but the stamp was pretty ugly, what happened to all those decoratives stamps of the past? Things that were more works of art than an official piece of documentation...

After passing through to the baggage reclaim area it was pleasing to see out luggage was already going around the carousel. I'd never seen so much baggage crammed onto a belt before, I was surprised the thing could even move! We retrieved our two cases and changed our US Dollars in South African Rand and passed the time for the next 30mins or so people watching and planning our journey ahead. The baggage reclaim hall seemed eerily quiet as the remaining passengers picked up their luggage. At about 7.55am we headed landside and picked up our rental car for the relatively short journey to Franschhoek, our first stop of the holiday.


Verdict: The flight was excellent in many ways. The lounges were great, as expected, the only disappointment being lack of massage even booking so far in advance didn't help! The decent champagne was back, whether it stays is another matter but it was most welcome. The crew were excellent, very friendly and personable which counts for a lot but no chat from the Cabin Services Director once more! Please CSDs come and speak with your customers! The food, with exception of cooked breakfast was very good also, certainly differentiating itself from Club World this time around.


Route: Cape Town - London Heathrow (Terminal 4)
Airline: British Airways
Flight number: BA042
Aircraft: Boeing 747-436
Registration: G-BNLZ
Seat: 01A (First)
Distance: 5994 miles
Duration: 10hrs 30mins
Date: Sunday 19th February


The final few days of our stay in South Africa my girlfriend and I were in Cape Town itself and our hotel the Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel had a rather good complimentary high speed internet for guests so the day before our flight, at 8.15am I was able to check-in for our flights. Before we had left Washington this flight was showing as pre-allocated limit had been reached which suggested the flight was full (Pre-allocation limit in First is 90%) so it was interesting to see five free seats in the cabin. I subsequently moved my girlfriend and I from row 2 to row 1 I then popped by the travel desk and booked a car service to the airport for 6am the following morning.


Online Check-In View of the First cabin on BA42

The night before the flight we set the alarm clock for 5am to give us good time to prepare but were disturbed by both the air conditioning's erractic behaviour and a repetitive bleeping from the alarm clock. This was to signify a whole host of problems that would plague the first few hours of our journey home.

When we left our room it appeared the guest lifts were out of action and 24 flight of stairs awaited me with two rather large and heavy cases. It wasn't looking good for a timely arrival at the airport and despite the combined efforts of the power outage and security system too sophisticated for it's own good we just about made our ride. It turned out the whole Western Cape was affected by this outage and even the traffic lights didn't work!

We arrived at the airport to find utter chaos, our driver set us down and we headed inside to find a line for to get to the check-in area! I thought luggage was being inspected by officials before being allowed through to the check-in area so held on tight. However, I noticed some people were going to the front of the line so got out my booking confirmation and moved my trolley to the front of the line and made the woman aware I was in First Class. She looked confused and waved me through. What I didn't realise was the lines were for the check-in desks! Unbelievable! Fortunately the First line was only a couple of people long so we thought we'd avoided most of the chaos. How wrong I could be! Our seats were confirmed as 1A and 1K and were told due to the power cut our luggage was being searched by hand and torchlight. I asked where and the check-in agent pointed to the darkest point of the check-in area This was comical! So I wheeled the trolley around to find the end of the line and stood....and waited....and waited. We were there for probably 45mins, our boarding passes had been taken by staff with promise they would be returned after our search, I presume to make sure our bags were searched. My girlfriend and I started speaking with a husband, wife and daughter from Guernsey who were travelling Club World that day and they were equally dismayed by the whole situation. Whilst waiting in line I noticed the BA crew arrive and much to my surprise one of whom was Ian, a member of cabin crew from my London-Washington flight in Club World from the previous month! BA Club World: LHR-IAD-RIC (w/pics) . As we reached the front it appeared the process had changed, we were told our bags would not be searched and told to lock them and leave them behind! Whether they decided that by forcing everyone to have bags hand searched the plane would be delayed until the following month or whether the baggage screening machines were working again I was unsure. Either way now it was time to join the security line! The fun continues! This moved more slowly than continental drift for the most part but was livened up by splitting men and women into different lines. What next, 'Those born on a day beginning with the letter T or S go in the first line?' ?!?!? I happened to end up beside my new friend from Guernsey and another chap on our flight and we spoke about flying and other airline cockups in general as we waited for the next 20mins or so in both the security line and the subsequent immigration line.


British Airways Terraces Lounge at Cape Town

Never before have I been so glad to get airside and plant my backside in such a middle of the road airline lounge! Of course it was dark thanks to the power outage which meant going to the bathroom was interesting. As I was washing my hands one chap went into the cubicle with a candle and remarked, 'How romantic'. Of course it could have been so much worse had I not been in First or not had my BA status. As it stood it took my girlfriend and I 90mins to get airside following our arrival at the airport! I'd bet some folks in World Traveller were closer to three hours!

I sat down with a Gin & Tonic, a double was certainly required after that messing about and due to the position of the lounge I was able to watch over the stairs for my girlfriend to appear. We waited in the lounge with a few drinks for a call and as the first was made we decided to go and change some of her Rand back into US dollars. The Bureau de Change was actually closed so we went to gate A3 where the our BA 747 was awaiting us. The gate seemed pretty quiet and I heard a rumour about us being bussed to the aircraft via the 'B' gates downstairs. So downstairs we went to find hundreds of people awaiting busses to the aircraft.

I asked a uniformed member of staff about priority busses for First and Business but was given a shrug as if it were a free for all so we took a seat to one side and awaited the line to die down. About 10mins or so later and the majority of passengers had gone so we got in line and got our boarding passes checked. The couple in front got a nice upgrade from World Traveller to Club World which they appeared to appreciate a great deal. The bus took us round to the aircraft and covered stairs were awaiting us.

I showed my boarding pass to a member of cabin crew, 'Ah Mr Davidson, 1A please come with me'. As I put my bags in the closet I was asked by a female member of cabin crew if I'd like something to drink. I took a glass of, you've guessed it, the Alfred Gratien!


Glass of Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis with nuts and Skymap showing us at Cape Town airport

Amanda came around again with sleeper suits and I requested a large, the medium pinch a little! I'd definitely recommend 1A and 1K in First, the only minor disadvantage is there is no overhead locker so you have to put your bags in the closet which is just beside the seat. You also find that the closet gets quite busy before pushback as people stow their bags (particularly from those in 4E/F and 5E/F who also have no overhead space). I went and changed into my sleeper suit and got stuck in with a copy of the Times. I was interrupted by a member of cabin crew who asked if they could see my boarding pass. Oh boy, they think I am a stowaway! I grab my boarding pass and passport for confirmation and show them side by side to Amanda who in turn shows me a boarding pass with my seat number and my name on it!! It appears this gentleman had managed to get right through check-in and security with a mis-matching passport and boarding pass combination! Unbelievable! Though bearing in mind the goings on at the airport that day it seemed pretty much par for the course. As it happened the gentleman in question reseated himself in 5F.

After menus had been passed about I noticed my girlfriend had one of the amenity bags so asked where she got hers and the lovely brown socks! She said they weren't handing them out as they hadn't loaded enough for everybody so I had to ask in the galley. Indeed despite what OLCI showed me the previous morning the cabin was full, so I nipped back to the galley to get my little souvenir of the trip. As we waited for final boarding procedures to be completed a fluorescent clad lady asked to see our baggage receipts. Oh great, this isn't a good sign. She then got on the walkie-talkie to a colleague and it was obvious our bags would arrive in London in two pieces/four pieces/wet/not at all {delete as applicable}


Seat 1A. The privacy is really quite unparalleled.

The captain came over the PA introduced himself and apologised profusely for the chaos but assured us we would be on our way back to Heathrow as soon as possible and that those with connections would be sorted out by the Flight connections team and he would update passengers throughout the flight. The safety video was shown and eventually I felt the jolt of the aircraft beginning to push back, hurrah!

We taxied around to runway 01 and waited as I watched a Kulula MD-82 come into view on the right hand side and land. After it vacated the runway we crept onto it and headed London bound about 90mins late, considering everything it wasn't too bad, for one moment I thought we'd be delayed for three or four hours. We were up through the cloud fairly fast where the sky was bright blue, a stark contrast to the ground below. The guy in 2A obviously wanted to sleep and asked if the shade that was on the border of being the property of either 1A or 2A be closed. To avoid a scene I obliged but then what happened to your eyeshades, mate?

Breakfast canapes were brought round and another drinks order taken, we were advised that because of the delay breakfast would be served right away with lunch being served as and when each passenger decided they'd like it. Hang on, I think for the first time I actually didn't feel like an inconvenience by asking for a meal when I felt like!


Orange juice with breakfast canapes

The menu was as follows, with the wine list afterwards:

_________________________

BREAKFAST

Welcome to the FIRST dining experience, where you are in control of when and what you eat. Please create your own menu combination, from a light meal to a complete meal.

STARTERS

Chilled fruit juice

An energising fruit smoothie

A selection of fruit or plain yoghurts and cereals

Fresh seasonal fruit plate


BAKERY

A wide selection of warm bread and breakfast pastries


MAIN

Traditional breakfast grill of scrambled eggs, bacon, pork sausages, rosti potatoes, mushrooms and tomato

Spanish omelette

Banana pancakes and maple syrup


________________________

CHAMPAGNE

Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis

A remarkably luxurious deluxe cuvee Champagne produced from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, exclusively, grand cru vineyards. This was a big favourite in the Concorde Cellar.


WHITE WINES

Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignieres 2003, Domaine Roux Pere et Fils

This is a powerful, rich and complex wine from an excellent producer made in one of the world's greatest sources of dry white wine

Three Choirs Estate Reserve Bacchus 2004
Bacchus is an intensely aromatic grape variety admirably suited to England's cool climate - in this case Gloucestershire. There's lots of crisp orchard fruit aromas and flavours and good depth and length

Spier Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Stellenbosch
An elegant, velvety yet full-bodied dry white wine with concentrated green pepper and grassy flavours and a lingering finish


RED WINES

Chateau Beychevelle 1995, Grand Cru Classe Saint-Julien

Chateau Beychevelle is an architectural gem in the tiny commune of Saint-Julien and the wines are equally stunning! This is elegant with firm tannins. candied fruit and a generous hint of spice.

Errazuriz Don Maximano Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Aconcagua Valley
This is one of the most stylish wines ever to come out of Chile with a luscious raspberry and blackberry aroma, spicy tannins and a long silky finish

Simonsig Tiara 2000, Stellenbosch
An amazing aroma of roast fennel and cigar box leads into a classic and intense mocha and black fruits flavour


DESSERT WINES

Opitz Goldackerl Trockenbeerenauslese 2002, Austria
Austria makes some of the finest sweet wines in the world. The effervescent Willi Opitz, from his tiny vineyards in Illmitz near the Hungarian border, produces some of the very best in the country.

Warre's 1988 Colheita Port
Complex, sweet, nutty flavours offer and admirable after-dinner glass.


SPIRITS, DIGESTIFS AND LIQUERS

We offer a complete range of classic and timeless spirits, digestifs and liquers including Gonzalez Byass Sherries, Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whisky, Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Smirnoff Black Label Vodka, The Glenlivet 18-year-old Single Malt Whisky, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Whiskey and Camus XO Cognac.


SOFT DRINKS

A selection of traditional and modern drinks including Coca Cola, Highland Spring still or sparkling mineral water.


_________________________


I opted for the mixed fruit yoghurt to start, followed by all the components of the cooked breakfast with the exception of tomato and the scrambled eggs. To be honest I was sick of scrambled eggs having had them every morning of the holiday!


Mixed fruit yoghurt with cup of coffee

At this point I was so hungry I would have taken the breakfast off the outbound flight and devoured it without much care! However the yoghurt was rather good, but then when did you ever have bad yoghurt?


My girlfriend in 1K also enjoying her yoghurt, strangely hers was served in a the thing that looks like a wine glass!

My cooked breakfast arrived soon after Amanda had cleared the yoghurt away and it was rather good, if not a bit stingy on the portion sizes! Two mushrooms!


Traditional breakfast grill of bacon, pork sausages, rosti potatoes and mushrooms

The entertainment began to fire up some time after takeoff and not being too bothered about First View on this flight I decided to watch the main IFE system. I have to say I do rather like Mission Impossible I, despite the daft ending of helicopter in the tunnel so fired that up and watched it. Ironically it had an opening and ending sequence set in BA First Class

I then leant back in the seat and did very little for the next couple of hours, well I did decide to get in the buddy seat for novelty value and read a magazine.


The view from the buddy seat. About the only time you could notice you are around other passengers once airborne

The buddy seat offered a much better view of the West African coast than the seat itself and I looked down onto the rainforest and river valleys below. I got back in the seat the right way round for a little while longer, watching the skymap as we passed back into the northern hemisphere. I noticed what appeared to be a South African Airways A340 zip in the other direction at lightning speed. I only managed the briefest of glimpses but the white long body and direction gave it away somewhat.

I took a walk down to the back of the aircraft (acknowledging the family from Guernsey in Club World as I did so) to stretch my legs on the back door again, a rather handy little trick that is. A number of people were standing around and then I realised they thought I was waiting to use the bathroom! It seems the back galley is quite a place to congregate in World Traveller. A number of people were reading books and just trying to avoid sitting down which seems sensible enough. Heck, I was going the same thing and was fortunate enough to have a great deal more than these folks! I also happened to bump into Ian from my London-Washington flight and it certainly was him but he didn't remember me, our only passing remarks being a smile and a wink back from him. I guess they see so many hundreds of people they can't expect to remember one little chap!

I headed back up to First and asked for a bacon roll to be cooked for me and also got a glass of fizzy. I wasn't hungry enough for a full meal but this just fitted the bill. I settled in to Business Life Channel which had 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' (fairly apt viewing considering the reputation of airline food ) followed by the Biography of Donald Trump! How could I not watch it? My Sunday was looking up! The inflight entertainment was momentarily interrupted by the captain updating connecting passengers on the situation regarding their onward flights, this occurred a further couple of times during the flight.


Bacon roll, glass of Alfred Gratien and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Fairly apt that my picture shows someone swearing but odd as it may seem it wasn't Gordon Ramsay!!

The bacon roll was delicious, it really hit the spot. Sure it isn't gourmet or haute cuisine but then I'm hungry and looking for a stop gap so don't really care!

My girlfriend was getting hungry by this stage and couldn't wait around for me to finish my shows so got on with it. As our seats were close it didn't seem too critical that we seat opposite each other.

About an hour after the bacon roll I was ready to eat, I perused the menu lunch menu which was as follows:

_________________________

LUNCH

STARTERS


Smoked salmon and prawns on a tabouleh salad with lemon

Warm croustade of mushrooms a la creme

Red lentil and tomato soup with toasted baguette slices

Fresh salad leaves with your choice of Blue cheese dressing or vinaigrette

MAIN

Tournedos Rossini with Madeira sauce, brocolli and roast potatoes

Chicken melitzana with aubergine, tomato and cinnamon sauce ratatouille, potato cakes with leeks and Haloumi cheese

Pumpkin and prawn curry, buttered spinach and pilaf rice with almonds

Poached ocean trout on new potato salad with apple and horseradish sauce

DESSERT

Toffee and banana steamed pudding

Orange creme caramel

SNACKS

Warm bacon roll with tomato ketchup

Fresh rigatoni with Ligurian walnut sauce or pesto with mint sauce

A selection of sweet biscuits

A selection of cheese and fruit

CHEESE PLATE

A selection of cheese

A basket of fruit

your choice of
Espresso, cappuccino, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea or herbal tea

Chocolates


_________________________


Conrad advised me it take about 20mins to prepare so I sat patiently awaiting my smoked salmon and prawns to start. He brought some bread round and I ordered a glass of the Spier Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc to wash it down.


Smoked salmon and prawns on a tabouleh salad with lemon

The prawns felt like there were cooked slightly which seemed odd considering they were cold but the smoked salmon was excellent as was the tabloueh which complimented both perfectly. The next course was the Tournedos Rossini...


Tournedos Rossini with Madeira sauce, brocolli and roast potatoes

I was a little disappointed with this course, partly with myself due to the fact I didn't order a glass of red to go with it and partly because of the very heavy sauce which almost killed the beef itself! The vegetables themselves were cooked to perfection though. Unfortunately I left half of the beef behind

I nipped to the bathroom quickly and came back to find my table had been cleared away! I was still hoping for some dessert so asked for a glass of the Opitz dessert wine to go with my orange creme caramel. Conrad came with a tablecloth but I told him it wasn't necessary for the one course.


Orange creme caramel with glass of Opitz Goldackerl Trockenbeerenauslese 2002

British Airways usually have great desserts in premium cabins and this was no exception, about the best creme caramel I've had the pleasure of tasting and the Opitz dessert wine was a fantastic partner for the flavours of the dessert

The scenery outside was spectacular as we tracked across North Africa, the desert coupled with mountains made for a great backdrop that reminded my fondly of a flight from Bangkok to London and the mountains over central Asia.

Our flight was almost into double figures in terms of hours passed since leaving Cape Town and looking at the map the sunset was approaching rather rapidly. The shadows across the cabin drew longer and I took this opportunity to get a photo of the general impression of seat 1A.

As the cabin darkened yet further I began to feel tired and decided to get an hours sleep. Couldn't resist getting a photo with my ursine companion and the photo shows how I had the bed sleeping the backwards way round.


The bear making use of the bed in seat 1A. For some reason there was no pillow with the duvet. Probably because this was a dayflight

I managed to get about an hours sleep before waking up close to Paris. I raised the bed up and went and freshened for landing. I changed out my sleeper suit and back into regular clothes and gathered together the majority of my possessions.


Seat 1A as we are approaching the French coast. From this picture you can get the impression of how much the nose curves offering a quasi forward view. In fact if you see photos of the 747 you'll see the front seats in the nose are a fair distance ahead of the cockpit itself

During the course of the flight my girlfriend and I had accumulated a fair amount of goodies so asked Conrad if there were any spare bags from duty free we could requisition. A minute later a couple of bags were brought back for us At this time everyone and sundry came forward to the closet to retrieve their clothes and bags so they could make a speedy getaway, this included the gentleman in 5F, the other 'Fraser Davidson' introduced himself to me and had a brief chat.

We then settled in for the final 30 or so minutes of the flight. We had been asked to stow our PTVs and return seats to the uncomfortable position but my intrigue had got the better of me as it seemed as though we were just going in a straight line in the dark and I was completely disorientated. I popped up my PTV and watched as we circled over south east London then tracked west to join the holding pattern somewhere over Maidenhead. The call was made for cabin crew to return to seats for landing and the eerie noise of the undercarriage coming down circulated around the cabin. We landed on 09L some 2hrs 40mins after our intended arrival. We taxied around Terminal 1 & 2 and waited our turn to cross to Terminal 4. We then parked up on Gate 8 and disembarked, for some reason our compatriots seemed all in a rush and before the plane had come to a complete halt they were queuing up to get their bags from the locker. To be honest we both felt a bit daft waiting there in an empty cabin as by the time the seat belt sign had been switched off we were literally alone!

Again we left the aircraft via door 2L and as we got caught in the back of the queue and just in the First cabin I remarked to the Conrad and his colleague about the state of place. It was filthy! A young lad, well he looked about 16, appeared to have got a copy of the Daily Mail and ripped up every page leaving it strewn around his seat. Admittedly the Daily Mail does deserve that kind of treatment but to leave it for someone else to tidy up was just poor form {thumbsdown} The FAs remarked, 'It appears the more space you give people the more of a mess they make'. In this case his words seemed very true!

The folks in World Traveller Plus and beyond were held back as the rest of the premium folk left the aircraft. We were welcomed at the end of the jetway by a lot of uniformed staff holding signs with various peoples names on it. Some were getting very angry at the prospect of spending a night in a hotel a British Airways expense. To be honest I was quite surprised the airline covered the cost as it was the airport authority at Cape Town at fault not the airline.

Either way the walk to immigration wasn't too far from Gate 8 and lines were short at this time of the evening. I must have looked a real idiot with a sunburned face in the February rain of Heathrow! After those formalities over with it was the lottery that is baggage reclaim. Fortunately for us our bags were amongst the first couple of dozen to make it through the flappy doors so we made a quick exit. My parents were waiting for us to get us home and have a relaxing evening swapping vacation stories,

The goodies:


The BA First Sleeper Suit. not exactly the height of fashion but comfortable and the bottoms are rather useful working out in as they are not too heavy but not too light. It goes without saying the top half never comes along!


The Anya Hindmarch BAg. This picture shows a welcome card, the eyeshade and sock pack, earplugs and all the different inserts; Basics, Shave and Skincare


'Basics' pouch. Contains toothbrush, REN peppermint mouthwash, Elgydium toothpaste, REN Malachite Soothing Eye Gel, REN Honey Lip Balm, REN Calendula Hydra-Calm Moisturiser-Sensitive and Aroma Therapeutics of London 'Moisture Mist'


'Shave' pouch. Contains Wilkinson Sword disposable razor and REN HX4 shave cream


'Skincare' pouch. Contains small washcloth and two small pots of Amanda Lacey Cleansing Pomade and Pink Cream


The Anya Hindmarch BAg, First Life (A version of High Life with more expensive stuff in it!) and a collection of menus from onboard and in from the Concorde Room

Verdict: The return flight itself was slightly marred by the pretty awful experience of Cape Town Airport. Obviously this was beyond BA's control so would be grossly unfair of me to mark the flight down based on that!

I thought it was a very good idea of the crew to have the dine as and when you like concept, I am aware this is usually advertised but it so rarely happens and it came across as though it was a spur of the moment decision by the crew to do this onboard this flight. The food itself was very good with the exception of the stingy breakfast portions and disappointing main course.

Of the three cabin crew in First that day two of them were excellent, Conrad and his male colleague were excellent. The female member of crew was little less so, she was friendly enough but I just got the impression she was going through the motions a little.

Overall though a decent flight from British Airways, a chose the dayflight in particular to make the most of the First service and I wasn't disappointed.

More pictures from these flights in my Imagestation album
__________________
'There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror' - Orson Welles

Last edited by Fraser; Apr 22, 06 at 3:24 pm.
Fraser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 25, 06, 3:02 pm   #2
Moderator: Trip Reports
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: London, UK
Programs: AA 2MM - PLT, BA Gold, EY Silver, SPG Plat, Hilton Gold
Posts: 5,826
Excellent report Fraser.

A little different from my last TR

Hopefully I will be able to follow up equally well with some TR's from an upcoming AONE.
__________________
Wonderful Myamnar a TR - now complete Oct 21
Will we burn in heaven like we do down here?

Last edited by Moomba; Feb 25, 06 at 3:47 pm.
Moomba is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 25, 06, 3:23 pm   #3
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: St. Paul, MN
Programs: I've gone dormant. For now.
Posts: 1,457
Wow, Fraser, thanks for the great report! I cant think of a much more complete TR! Thanks for the Take-off video, too. Great idea!
__________________
Tom
NWA_5479 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 25, 06, 4:10 pm   #4
Moderator: Lufthansa Miles & More forum
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,292
Great report Fraser and very interesting to read. Thanks for sharing this with us.
totti is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 25, 06, 9:11 pm   #5
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 188
Wow, beautifully written and detailed, thx a bundle
hartd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 26, 06, 7:00 am   #6
mag
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Programs: LH M&M, FTL / *S | EK Skywards, Gold | AB Top Bonus, Silver OW Ruby
Posts: 354
fraser, a first class trip report! i felt like being with you in the cabin... glad you and your girl have the opp to enjoy a trip like this. looked like big fun and a great experience.
with a bit of positive envy, mag.
mag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 27, 06, 6:03 am   #7
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Agoura Hills, CA USA
Posts: 2,447
This fabulous report makes me want to visit CPT and JNB again... Too bad the exchange rate is 6 SAR to the dollar...It was 12 SAR to the dollar in 2000....
RTW4 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 27, 06, 7:45 am   #8
Moderator: GLBT travelers, India-based Airlines and India; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Hoos-ton ;)
Programs: YES!
Posts: 14,989
Excellent Trip report Fraser.
AJLondon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 27, 06, 10:11 am   #9
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,812
Noticed your TR in Airliners.net trip report section. Seems like you had a very relaxing flights and trip to SA. Enjoyed your photos and I am always wondering when UA will "catch up" with BA or other premier products. Hopefully soon.
__________________
Going Around The World Twice!!
brahms77 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 27, 06, 11:58 am   #10
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Programs: OWEmerald & Sapphire; STARGold; SPGPlat; PCPlat/Ambassador; CarlsonConcierge; AirMilesGold
Posts: 35,215
Great report recalling my own several trips down there in BA's front cabin, also from 2K. There is nothing like watching the approach to CPT over the harbour and around Table Mountain, perticularly when there is that classic flow of cloud off the top of the mountain...the table cloth.
Shareholder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 28, 06, 5:39 am   #11
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: London, UK
Programs: BA Gold, BD Gold, PC Ambassador, SPG Gold
Posts: 4,001
Great report Fraser, as always! Many thanks for sharing.
__________________
Read my Trip Reports at:
Phil's Travel Diary
PhilH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 28, 06, 7:20 am   #12
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Programs: BA emerald, AF rouge ,UA premier executive, SQ,ANA, HYATT,, AMENITI
Posts: 808
I said it before BA and LH are the best in europ.
BTW great report enjoyed it very much
SMART51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 28, 06, 6:33 pm   #13
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: East Ester, Alaska
Programs: A few airline and car rental companies
Posts: 4,732
I've always wanted to fly BA's LHR-CPT flight and now, thanks to this excellent report, I almost feel as if I have. I wish I'd had the Beef Stroganoff and some of those South African wines offered on my flights, though. Thanks once again Fraser for yet another superb report!
Seat 2A is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 1, 06, 4:23 am   #14
Moderator, airberlin, SkyTeam and Germany
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: FRA/STR/NUE
Programs: LH, AB, BA, KLM, spg, PC/ICH, GHA/Kempinski
Posts: 5,573
Thanks a lot for this wonderful trip report!
ralfkrippner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Mar 1, 06, 12:19 pm   #15
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 80
Great work!!!
WaltherVonDerVogelweide is offline   Reply With Quote
 
 
Reply

Bookmarks


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 5:47 pm.