Old Sep 7, 10, 7:08 am
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: London
Programs: BA
Posts: 2,359
Boeing 747-400
Seats : 1A and 1K

(Apologies for the blur)

The WT and WT+ desks we busy with a small queue. On the lcd display above the desks they were offering upgrades to WT+ though it didn't say how much. At one of the Club World desks adjacent to us a Silver card holder was rather annoyed that he couldn't pay to upgrade to Club; the reason being that the flight was full in F and J! We approached the empty First Class desk and I handed over our Passports. Unlike LHR, there were F baggage tags available for hand baggage (and CW at the CW desk). I took one as a souvenir. We had enjoyed 1A and 1K on the outwards journey and thanks to a friend at home, we had managed to secure them on the way home. As the check-in agent tapped away, I caught sight of a laminated piece of A4 paper that had a seat map of the F cabin. The agent explained that it was helpful for passengers unfamiliar with the F product on BA in either explaining where they were seated or allowing them to select a seat.

We met up with the other couple who had checked-in at the Swiss desk in the shiny new terminal. I can't visit the US without eating a ridiculously large burger or a huge rack of ribs. Since it would be a few hours before dinner on board and given that we had skipped lunch, we decided to have dinner in the terminal. Spying a branch of Chillis, we sat down for an early dinner. As others ordered more sensibly, I explained my predicament to the waiter who immediately recommended a burger doused in bbq sauce and several strips of very crisp bacon. What a recommendation; it was magnificent.

It was time to part ways, they went off to their concourse and we walked back to concourse F where BA flights depart from. We went up the escalator at the back of the check-in area to an empty security area. There is a fast-track line for BA and Virgin premium passengers but there was no need to use it. Through our last (and thankfully quickest) security check of the day, we walked the length of the F concourse to the Club America lounge. A charming member of BA ground staff with a french accent welcomed us to the lounge. She apologised that it was nowhere near the standard of a Terraces or Galleries First Class lounge, adding that of course nothing could compare to the Concorde Rooms. This was nowhere near as cheesy as it may look on screen. We were directed to the F section of the lounge.

I had read much about the Club America lounge here on FT and it was as described; a standard Business class lounge with virtually no food (not that I needed any after eating the aforementioned burger) and a small selection of alcohol. Moreover, as an F lounge it felt very crowded and noisy though this is an accusation I can level at others I have visited. The WiFi wouldn't work and the computer in the business centre were so old that the Smithsonian were in the process of collecting them for posterity. I passed the time by reading the Independent, getting my first fix of British news for a number of days. My attention was occasionally diverted by yet another person with an iPad. I would continue to remind myself that I didn't need one.

Finally, the member of BA ground crew made an announcement that the flight was now ready for those in the lounge to board. She reminded us of the gate and that priority boarding for those eligible was from the adjacent gate.

(Again, apologies for the blur)

On arrival at the aircraft door we were shown to our seats and warmly welcomed to the F cabin by the CSD. We would be served this evening by a male steward from Northern Ireland and like his female counterpart on the outbound flight, he was excellent. Mrs BiH asked for a glass of water explaining that she didn't want any dinner and intended to sleep all the way to London. She was offered pajamas and changed before we pushed back. I on the other hand had got a second wind and decided to sample a light dinner and little wine. I had a glass of champagne as boarding continued. We were amongst the last to board and the doors were closed soon afterwards.

The cabin lights were dimmed as we made our way to the active runway. With the lights down, I felt a little sleepy but in the interests of my trip report and enjoying the F experience, I decided to soldier on once we took off. Many on the BA board recommend flying F to the US and J on an overnight flight back; the point being that F service is worth enjoying during the day but at night, a flat bed and a snack is all you really need. The 25k mile difference (total, remembering that this was two award tickets for the price of one) seemed small, neither of us had flown BA F before and let's face it, I like flying First Class! The four powerful Rolls Royce engines made light work of heaving a fully laden 747 towards London. As the cabin lights went up, those who hadn't changed into their pajamas did so. Our crew member came over and suggested that he made Mrs Baggageinhall's bed first and then served me dinner. We agreed. As I looked around a full cabin, it appeared that only three of us intended to eat, the other 11 turning in for the night. Mrs BiH asked to be woken for a cold breakfast before donning her headphones to listen to some soothing music as she drifted off. She was kind enough to take a moment to remind me that I had sampled most of the bar on the way out, that I might not want to repeat the outbound mini-hangover and that finally, I could find paracetamol in her handbag as a last resort and even then only in the morning, well after I had stopped drinking!

The advice heeded, I took a look at tonight's menu and wine list. The former had been emailed to me by YouFirst a month previously, the latter was as the outbound flight and can be found above.


* Smoked salmon on fingerling potato salad.
* Cherry tomato, basil and smoked Mozzarella tart with aragula pesto cream sauce
* Corn and red pepper soup
* Fresh salad leaves with your choice of balsamic vinaigrette or creamy Greek dressing

* Steakhouse rib-eye with creamed spinach and roast potato wedges
* Pan-roasted scallops with warm vinaigrette, saffron potatoes au gratin and green beans
* Lamb shank shepherd's pie with peas and pancetta
* Indonesian-style chicken with wild rice and barley salad with pineapple chutney.
* Smoked Mozzarella gnocchi with peperonata sauce.

* Sachetorte
* Cherry crumble with vanilla ice cream
* A selection of biscuits
* A selection of cheese and fruit

* A choice of smoothies, fruit juice, cereals and fruit.
* A wide selection of breakfast pastries and rolls
* Warm bacon roll.

* Traditional English breakfast of freshly scrambled eggs, bacon, bangers, mushrooms, baked beans in tomato sauce and roast tomato.
* Wilds mushroom and cheese herb crepe.
* French toast stuffed with blueberry Mascarpone.
* Selection of teas and coffees.

After the massively disappointing steak on the outbound flight I steered clear and chose the scallops. The lingering effects of the earlier burger was atoned by selecting the salad dressed with olive oil. My table was laid and tonight's amuse brought to my table.

Three stone cold slices of duck breast with a very ordinary chutney and a small slick of balsamic reduction. The duck was overcooked and very chewy. The layer of fat had been crisped at the very edge but in its cold state, had returned to the same thick gelatinous consistency as the layer underneath. In short, it was terrible. The steward returned and took away the plate noting that very few people had anything good to say about it. He replaced it with my salad and a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil.

By complete contrast, the salad was fresh and the artichoke that sat proudly on top was delicious. I was impressed with the olive oil too. Whilst the menu suggested it was available for a limited time only, I can recall seeing it on the menu of just about every BA F trip report I have read on this forum. With the salad, I had a glass of the Margaux. On the outbound I hadn't really been that impressed with it. It may just have been too cold. The Steward had mentioned it was a favourite of his and had taken the liberty of trying to get it back up to room temperature soon after take off. This time I could taste some of the more subtle notes that were missing previously.

Remembering for a moment that I was on an aircraft, the scallops were quite good. Considering they had been reheated in a small oven they weren't too tough or rubbery. I knew the risk when I ordered them and in part that is why I did, just to see how they would turn out. The gratinated potatoes had been smothered in bog standard salty, acidic American made cheese and were hardly touched. I drank the small glass of Chablis and pushed the food around for a moment more before giving up.

My appetite for something savory still hadn't been extinguished. I didn't want pudding so opted for piece of Wisconsin blue. I'm not really a fan of American made cheese but if anyone could produce something edible, it would be the good people of WI. Sadly not. It was replaced by a piece of Brie which I enjoyed with a glass of The Noble Mud Pie.

Time to turn in for the night, or so I thought. After my table was cleared, I tried to turn my seat into a bed but after a few seconds of movement the seat froze. I hit the call light and explained the problem to the Steward who came back with another member of the crew. They removed the bottom panel at the back of the seat and began to manipulate my seat into a bed. I suggested using the spare seat in F but was told that it was inoperable and wouldn't move from the normal seating position. As a last resort, there was a spare seat in Club World that I could use if necessary. After a few more minutes of manipulation, my seat was now a bed. The various prodding seemed to have reinvigorated the electronic controls and I was able to select a comfortable position to watch a film before dozing off. I had asked the Steward if wouldn't mind checking whether I was awake before the breakfast service commenced. If I was, I would take the traditional English breakfast; if not a double espresso and an orange juice would suffice just before descent.

I slept well and woke just after the breakfast service began. There was still time for a traditional breakfast but I opted for coffee and juice on the basis that we intended to eat in the arrivals lounge. As we came in to land I managed to get a photo of my house (it's there somewhere in shot!)

We taxied to the same gate that we departed from on the edge of T5B. A short queue at immigration and the journey time to the baggage hall left me hoping that our bags might emerge quickly from the depths of T5. Alas after 20 minutes of inactivity we were told that there was a problem with the cargo doors which were refusing to open. It was just over 90 minutes after we landed before the first bags arrived and thankfully ours were amongst the first wave. We made our way to the arrivals lounge for breakfast and headed into the Concorde Room breakfast room.

There were two other couples (one from our flight) already in the room when we arrived. Mrs BiH had a vegetarian breakfast and I opted for the full English. Unlike in the plate presented to me in the Concorde Room departures lounge, this was awful. The bacon was cheap and nasty, the sausage was bland and the eggs tasted like they were made with egg powder. It was a disappointing way to end the BA F experience.

Our taxi driver rang to say he was almost at T5 so we collected our bags and made our way home

Last edited by baggageinhall; Sep 7, 10 at 7:25 am
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