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Old Jul 15, 13, 3:21 pm
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: LCY is always preferred
Programs: BAEC Gold, IHG Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 828
An Unexpected Journey....

A bit of background. I wasnt planning on doing a TR, so the pics are a bit sparse. The reason for the report can be found here:

So where to begin. Maybe a little bit of the flight out, and then concentrate on the unexpected adventure…..

There and Back Again.

LHR, the Concorde Room, June 2013. Having heard the horror stories of the food in the lounges, I was possibly a little worried as to the fare we were to receive. I’m travelling with my folks, it being a special anniversary for them, so it is first class on the way out, and Club on the way back…. Or so we thought.

Can I help you Sir?

Up to the First Class check in, and promptly seen. The fancy new yellow tags applied, we see our luggage on its way. The customary question ‘Old or new First?’ is answered surprisingly ‘Definitely new first Sir. All new First now’. Having knowledge of the YVR route being Mid J, I question this and am told, ‘they told us to say that in our last briefing’, and ‘only way to truly tell is when you get to the gate, but it’s supposed to be G-CIVD’.

Reassured that I have NF, we sally forth to the security screening. Last time I went through LHR, it was quicker to go through normal security than to wait for the Fast-track line. This time, we breeze through and through the secret door to the haven of the CCR, overlooking the poor souls stuck with the shops seemingly closing in on them, with no escape but to T5B through the lifts. After Breakfast, we’ll make that walk, but for now, Breakfast in the CCR beckons… Or rather it should.

We ask for a table for 3, and are politely told, I’m sorry, we’ll be a few minutes while we clear you a table, or you could have breakfast on the high tables? That offer declined, we retreat to them to await a table, as a group of people are whisked straight in by Special Services. An angry murmur emits from Spur Snr. ‘Why’d they get a table straight away? We were here first!’. I explain that the guy in front being special services, it was likely that it was a pre-planned visit and a table was reserved. Murmurs don’t subside, but are subdued until 10 minutes pass, when even I start drumming my fingers, as no tables have been cleared. Another 10 minutes later, we are shown to a table, next to the group ushered in by Special Services. They look like a pair of Bollywood stars and their families, the men sport 70’s porn star ‘taches, and sit separately from the women and children, who are remarkably well behaved.
Served quite quickly, and the food I am relieved and rather shocked to find is very good. Excellent bacon, poached eggs done perfectly and tasty sausages. Even Spur Snr is impressed with the scrambled eggs he has. All that was missing was a little tomato ketchup, which never came, despite the requests for some. Still, all in all, surprisingly good.

Breakfast in the CCR. Surprisingly good!

A quick trip to the other lounges to see the fare there, for reporting back to FT HQ threads. GF fine, bar the jars for jam and biscuits, GC, looked OK, but a bit bare, it was 10.30 after all, so the likes of us Silver locusts had already been in

Back to the CCR, and as we were leaving, I spy a fellow FTer writing on the condition of the food. We agree it’s better than had been feared, and as we wanted to ensure no running this time, we said goodbye, and then off to T5B with us. Last time, we left it a bit late, so a little earlier departure from the CCR to ensure enough time to board was needed. And enough time for a little look at T5B. Never been in T5B, so it was new one for me. A little trip showed a nice enough lounge, but the food, well, it was bad. The hungry few looked at it and turned their collective noses up, and I didn’t blame them.

Our chariot awaits!!

Too late to commiserate, it was off to Vancouver, with the nice feeling of turning left upon entering the aircraft. Ensconced in 2A, I made myself comfortable with a glass of the fizzy stuff, ready for the flight. Nice girl in 2K…….

Rolling, V1, Rotate. Positive climb, gear up. And away we go. Damn she’s already curled up and asleep!! Oh well, maybe later. Thoughts turn to lunch.
So what’s on the menu? A JW Blue will do for starters. One with the old man, while the boss has her G&T. And then another presented unexpectedly. Was planning not to drink too much, but I cannot refuse now can I? That would be most improper.

Starters, prawns with Wasabi? Nope, Chick pea meze. Nah, Asparagus soup? Meh. Seasonal salad. Think I’ll pass. Main. Beef with herb crust. Look no further! Beautifully done. Tender and just as I like it. Two glasses of wine, one red, one white and I am relaxing. Go to get up, and whoa!!! Two half full glasses of wine fly off the table! And onto me, and the seat. And it’s not like I am anywhere near drunk! I slink off to the loo to use the first PJ bottoms as trousers for the rest of the flight, while the Boss jeans dry out. Suitably reattired, I return to find the seat covered with some plastic and a seat duvet. Now more comfy than before. Retire for a snooze.

Refreshed and three hours later, I am offered afternoon tea, and struggle to say no. Those scones are nice, but belly must be looked after. No obvious gluten keeps Spur a healthy chap. Damn this intolerance! But at least it’s not coeliac disease. I can risk it when I want to or need to, and had to later, as we will discover…

So we’ll skip the holiday, that’s the boring part for you lot I know. It rained, we saw the Blackhawks beat the Bruins in the last minute, we saw some fish, (Jelly and the normal type), otters and marine mammals, and had some cracking meals. (For info, Keg restaurants are superb. I think they have a greeters job description of must be around 20, female, be absolutely jaw droppingly stunning, so much so that many male patrons such as myself have trouble eating, (our mouths are open so often, as they take other patrons to their table,) and very nice people too. All most of the men get is a slap from their dinner date as we gawp).

But onto the unexpected adventure….

Sitting in the hotel dining room, there’s a text message from BA. ‘BA0086 on 26-Jun/YVR – has very long delay until at least 14:25 on 27th June. I don’t note the date, but look at BA84, already too many in CW to change. A further text will be sent when confirmed. Apologies from BA.’ Hmm, 14:25. Not saying not to go to the airport, and we are already checked in. Best get to the airport early and find out what’s going on. We were planning on getting there a bit early, to try to gain upgrades to F, which were still available when I checked. Still showing 4 ‘A’s available on the 86….

A quick shopping trip, where mum picks up yet another Coach bag, and we are off to the airport. A friendly Indian chap is our taxi driver, though at points we think we are being driven through downtown Mumbai rather than Vancouver. Nevertheless, he’s a nice guy, and informs us that traffic this time of day is hell. He asks, how much you pay on outward journey. I say CAN$35. Not today I’m afraid he says, but he knows a quicker route. I, being cynical, think we may be being done over. Having turned back towards the hotel, he is proved right though, as we arrive, at Terminal M, Bhangra and Punjabi folk ringing in our ears from the Radio in the Taxi. His route works, and is only a little dearer than the outward route, and most of that is due to the jam. (Route from YVR to city centre should cost circa CAN$35, but this one cost us CAN$38, so not a great deal more). Note to self not to be so cynical north of the border. This isn’t Las Vegas, or New York.

Out the taxi, and into the terminal. No BA presence to be seen. Look up and down the ticket sales desks, and nothing. Ask a friendly Cathay lady, who says BA are just setting up, and will be open shortly at desk 55. Upgrades too? Yes sir, they will be able to sort those out. Neither of us know what I and my folks are in for.

We approach the desk, which is as the Cathay lady said, being set up. The delay shows on the board. It’s only then it dawns on us that 14:25 means tomorrow! Our hearts sink as we realise our error. Along with us in the CW/F/OWS/OWE queue are two Belgians, and two Aussies. The Belgians only realise that they should be in the other queue when we start mentioning our wish to upgrade to F from CW. They are in Y, so join the now burgeoning BA86 Economy queue, and I feel sorry for them being at the back of an ever growing queue. I quickly try to log onto KVS. Damn this Internet! Cannot get up the details of the flights today!. We get chatting to the Aussie couple who are off to Italy, flying in F. The talk switches between whether the flight will ever go, to horse racing (Black Caviar and Frankel being the talking points, and the chaps horses in Australia), to what they will do with us. I mention the EU261 for their benefit. Not something they knew about, so happy to help them get something for the hassle. They have a tight connection from LHR to Italy, so are worried about their connection, and the fact they might lose the night in their hotel.

Suddenly, we are beckoned by a BA ground agent, who asks for one of our passports. ‘Only one?’ ‘Yes, only one Sir. I will get your ticket numbers from that’. I say I have that already, proffering my phone with the boarding pass second page in view, but she has scurried off to the back office from whence she appeared.

We are asked again for passports by another BA GA, and say we are already being dealt with. She moves to the Aussie couple in F, who I overhear are told that there is not any possibility of F on any flight today, so far as they can see, but they will do their best to see what can be done.

The first GA appears, and beckons us away from our new found friends, as if to say that this is all hush hush. She hands us three new tickets, and says ‘this is the only offer I can give you. We can get you on Lufthansa to Munich and from there to Heathrow on BA. All in Business class. It really is the only option I’m afraid’.

We look at each other, and take the tickets. ‘Please don’t mention this to anyone else. These are the only 3 tickets Lufthansa would give us, and it’s the only option we can give you. Please go and check in at Lufthansa.’
We look back at our Aussie friends, currently talking to another BA GA, and shaking their heads, as we walk away, glad we will get home at least a bit before we would otherwise have done, but also knowing that we have to go via Munich.

Lufthansa, an airline none of us have ever flown with. We have flown Swiss, and hope it will be up to that standard, though perhaps without the looped track ‘Love is in the air’ by John Paul Young we heard incessantly on boarding when visiting the family in Switzerland a few years ago.

We look for the desk, and eventually need to ask someone, who points to the far end of the terminal. A long line looms, but fortunately the Business Class check in is free, so we approach the counter. Check in is fine, and relatively friendly, but a clue to the Lufty experience is apparent upon reflection, as the Check in girl firmly requests the handles be up, even when there is no side handle. She does ask me for my miles and more number, which I don’t have on me, but she says ‘no worry, you can claim retrospectively’. A quick decision on seats, and we are off to security. But where is it? Oh, right at the other end of the terminal!

Security proves to be pain free, and we are soon ensconced in the Maple leaf lounge, having made a quick detour for books and magazines. The lounge is small. And there is one AC long haul flight, two LH flights and I am sure at least one or two other AC domestic flights. Seats are few and far between. We look towards the food and drink. I am sure there will be nothing for me without risk, and am proved right. A bit of salad or fruit. Great. Drinks on the other hand are not so bad. Beer on tap, which proves to be an entertaining game of how much beer you can get in a glass compared to the head, reasonable wine, and the other drinks you would expect in a Business Class lounge. No JW Blue here, so Spur Snr makes do with JW Black. I am feeling hungry, and mindful of the fact that there will be nothing without risk on the plane (though I am used to eating the thing I think has the least gluten in it on the plane, and can get away with that in the main), we leave the lounge and seek something which I can eat.

Maple Leaf lounge food selection

Milestones seems to look OK, and seals the deal when it has gluten free buns on the menu. One of those with the turkey club sandwich (not made as a club, but the job was done with a GF roll), and the obligatory fries. Must remember to take the bill for BA to reimburse. Everyone is happy with their food, and we pay the bill. Only when we are back in the lounge do we remember the bill. Only thing to do is have another glass of wine….

That looks suspiciously German behind that Air Transat plane...

The time comes for departure. Apprehension rises, and we make our way to gate D55, where stands an Airbus A330, registration D-AIKJ. I saw it coming in while in the lounge, and looked it up to see if it’s old C or new C. I am disappointed to see old C. And am more concerned to see ‘ACCIDENT REPORT D-AIKJ March 5th 2013’ and ‘Tailstrike on takeoff, unknown to flight crew’ and ‘damage substantial’. Hmm better keep that lot quiet from my mother, or she’ll never board the aircraft. That little nugget of info is kept quiet until we are safely on the ground in Munich.

Just before boarding, I grab a screenshot off my iPad, and upload it to FT for a timestamp, showing clearly the seats available on AC and VS. Why oh why couldn’t BA get us on one of them. Crew speak English, Canadians are some of the friendliest people I have ever met, and although Beardy airlines is not the best IMHO, their Upper Class, though a bit garish and dorm like for my liking, is at least lie flat, the crew are nice from previous experience and they are going to London. Plus I’d get VS miles!.

Boarding is called, and families are first. One family approaches without one major part of the family, as the little one is hiding behind the Gate Agent.We board, and are greeted rather indifferently by the Purser. Usually, and on every other airline I have flown, we have been welcomed, whether that be by name or just a simple ‘hello’. Not here matey. A grunt of acknowledgement from the Purser, though quickly followed by a guten tag and direction to our seats from the other purser. This is an indication of things to come.

The 'dentists chair'

We sit, and after a bit of to and froing from other passengers, settle into our seats. The safety briefing is done in German, and then English, and we are offered a complimentary drink by the second Purser. I sit back to read F1 magazine. The picture of Vettel as Darth Vader on the front may not have endeared me to members of the crew, and my Great Britain 2012 jacket may not have helped either, but the attitude of the Purser was awful. I knew the next 9 hours were going to be torture.

Once airborne, we are proffered menus by the second purser, and later what we want to eat by the purser, brusquely told there are no shrimps left. I say I’ll skip the starter. ‘There are no shrimps left, sir..’ No, I say, ‘I’ll skip the starter. ‘Ah, I will return when main courses are available’. Odd way of doing things I think, as I look at the main courses. Pasta, Salmon or noodles. I risk the noodles, as they could well be rice noodles. The time comes and I am asked what I want, in German. It’s only as I am about to answer, that the purser then asks almost derisively in English. The second purser follows up with the wine, and asks in perfect English, appreciating my attempt at the pronunciation of the Austrian wine. It’s almost as bad as my pronunciation, going well with the dry teriyaki, and the even dryer noodles, despite the addition of some gloopy soy sauce (think of the gloop in T5 GC, and you’ll get an idea of the gloopyness of it). It’s pretty bland, and only just edible. Apparently the fish was worse. Anyone thinking CW food is bad need to try this for some perspective. CW is nowhere near as bad as this.

How dry is that teryaki, and how much dryer are the noodles?

A dessert is refused, and I decide to settle for a nightcap of Glenfiddich. Then it’s time to see how far this seat will go flat. The answer is not very far. The privacy screen is useless. I never had the angled lie flat seats in old J on BA, and even flying AA some years ago, the seat was more or less lie flat, certainly more than this is, so this really is a trip back in time. And not a comfortable one at that. Not possible to lie on your side, and with no side as such, not too reassuring on keeping you in your seat. I doze, while listening to ‘The News Quiz’ and ‘Mock the Week’. The lights suddenly go out, while some are still moving about. The crew vanish behind the curtain, not to be seen until morning, except at some points where the curtain came back and more or less blinded me in 10K.

I intermittently doze, that being all I can do in what I consider to be closer to a dentist’s chair than any sort of lie flat bed, angled or not. I spend the next 5 or so hours in the company of Sandi Toksvig, and the News Quiz. Damn my Bose headphones that ran out of batteries!. Could do with them now as the noise from the engines is beginning to sound like the dentist’s drill, apt with the chair though I suppose.

Suddenly the lights are up. The scene suddenly thrust upon us is like something out of the Shining, with the chief Purser with his head peeking through the curtain, like Jack Nicholson after he has axed his way through the door. I’m sure there was also a maniacal glint in his eye too. The other passengers, startled awake seem to agree. Everything is immediately in order, and like a Sergeant Major inspecting rooms, round comes the purser, on the pretence of taking breakfast orders. I decline. Slightly perturbed he moves on, while the second purser scurries behind him, asking anyone who said no if they are really sure. I succumb to a glass of orange juice, but refuse the croissant on the grounds it has gluten. I am immediately offered cheese and ham, but all I really want is to get off this damn aircraft. I look at the distance. 1300 miles to Munich, and we are just coming up on Iceland. Two hours to landing, and freedom. Have to stop myself from whistling the tune to ‘The Great Escape’.

The joys of LH Business Class....

The second purser comes round, offering drinks. She really is a nice lady. My mum asks her a couple of questions, and then the killer: ‘How do we get to Terminal 1?’. Perturbed, the 2nd purser asks why. The BA story comes out. She is a little thrown, but says to head for the exit of T2 via the H gates. Armed with that knowledge, we can now try to race to T1 with some time left. Or so we think….

‘Meine Damen und Herren’ says the Capitan, as he relays a message to us that there is a medical emergency on board, and are there any doctors aboard. All we need now is a medical diversion. That would really seal the deal. Landing in London but not able to get off!. A doc is found, who attends to the passenger. This is in a perverse way, a help to us, as now we are ‘Pan Pan’, and so come straight in to Munich. Another touch of German ‘efficiency’ forbids the Economy passengers from leaving their seats until the Paramedics are on board and tending to the casualty. However annoying for the people in Y, it is sensible as it is the only way for the paramedics to get through the hordes that would otherwise try to get off. Also gives us a chance to get away a bit quicker. The plane gets to the gate, and everyone stays in their place until the paramedics go past to get to the economy section. We have come in early thanks to the Pan Pan, so have a little extra time to get to T1 and the gate. It’s then we realise we don’t have our boarding passes for the BA flight!. Ah well, can get them at the gate. If we ever get there.

The aftermath of the medical emergency...

Munich airport is a maze of corridors at the gates. I start to feel remarkably like one of the mice you get in mazes, looking for the cheese as some academic type performs some sort of cognitive experiment on you. After what seems like an age, and a trek to the centre of the earth and back, we arrive at T2 security, and go through. Signs here are a bit confusing, seemingly pointing people for T1 and the bus to an emergency exit. All is plain sailing. Now to find the bus, which isn’t hard.

The start of the maze..

A 10 minute wait and we are chauffeured to T1 by a friendly driver, who keeps telling us and another couple not to get off, as we are not at our stop yet. We get there eventually, and apart from only me being able to read the signs, which would flummox my folks, it’s been relatively painless. It would have been a nightmare for them though if I had not been with them. Another, smaller maze of corridors, and a few stairs, and we are at the BA lounge…. With no boarding passes. Time to whip out the plastic and see what they can do. They can’t get us our boarding passes, but confirm we are on the flight, so let us in, and tell us helpfully that the gate should be staffed around 45 minutes before flight time.

Judging by the masses of threads and posts relating to lounge food, food and drink are close to a flyertalker’s heart. So it makes me happy to be able to report that the food in the MUC lounge was not just good, it was excellent. Crisp chicken Schnitzel, decent salad, and various other things that looked nice, and I am told were tasty, though I could not partake (Shouldn’t have had the Schnitzel really, but I had to have something!). A chance to recharge the batteries, of the iPhone, iPad mini, iPad, laptop and Samsung tablet is taken, while recharging ourselves.

MUC Galleries Lounge food. Pretty good!. Take note GC LHR!

45 minutes later, we proceed to the gate, hoping there will be someone there to issue us our boarding passes. There is no one in sight. I go for a mooch round the shops, mindful that with no boarding pass and no Euros, I can buy nothing. Not that there is much to buy. The shops are sparsely filled compared with the ones at Heathrow, and there is not much of any quality. So back to the gate, and a few minutes later we have our passes, and now, safe in the knowledge that the plane has arrived, and we have our boarding passes, we are finally going to get to London. Boarding is orderly, and as we have just had our boarding passes we are pretty close to the front, save for a barger with a silver tag on his bag. He looks miffed as we pass him while he is fighting to get his case into the storage bin above 2A.

That may be orange, but I'm finally on a BA plane home.

We settle back and are soon away, with the business bods on their way home. A glass of whisky goes down well, and we chat to one of the crew, who spookily, is from one road across from where my Grandfather was born in a small village in Scotland. We relate our story, and the crew are horrified. All say they would have expected us to be rerouted on VS or AC, as I also expected.

Over the coast of Belgium. Blighty here we come!

Their service is exemplary, and despite the slating it has had on FT, the afternoon tea is pretty good. And it only seems a short while until we finally are on the ground in good old Blighty.

Our ride home

The M25 was hell, but gave me a chance to write the letters of complaint that are now winging their respective ways to BA and LH!. BA better not reroute me anywhere but either where I am going to or directly to London if I am returning home. They would have a good chance. Next time it is Washington, via New York. They can’t possibly mess that up, can they?....... We shall have to wait and see.

Hope you have enjoyed this little story more than I enjoyed taking it!! (Well the last leg. Canada is a great place)

Last edited by SpurMan; Jul 16, 13 at 2:42 am
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