Old Aug 17, 14, 9:50 am
  #2  
corporate-wage-slave
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Monday

Monday morning - London City to Granada, then Madrid

I had a good night's sleep at the Hilton. One strange thing about me travelling is that though I always set the alarm, I always seem to wake a few minutes before it goes off. Almost all Hiltons worldwide have exactly the same radio / alarm clock so its easy for me to set. Up a bit before 6 am, and I am online at 06:20. There's someone in Asia I could do with speaking to today, but because of my travels I'll be "offline" (as we say) for the morning, which is the main time overlaps between Asia and Europe.

I also start the process of packing, which given one bag isn't a big chore. This is my technique: I put everything I left out in the room on to the bed, so I sweep through the room accumulating stuff, paying particular attention to adapters, belts and ties (things which often get forgotten). Then on the bed I rearrange it into heaps according to where in the bag it needs to go, bearing in mind electronics and liquids need to be accessible at the top of the bag. Then I go off to breakfast, knowing I can come back, clean my teeth and be out the room in 5 minutes. Favourite bug bear with other business travellers: those that bring there bags to breakfast for immediate departure afterwards. Apart from cluttering the breakfast area they presumably spend their morning, after a big breakfast, in close confines to other office staff, with teeth uncleaned!

Anyway it's a bit early to be hungry and so the breakfast buffet is good even by Hilton's high standards n Europe, I make do with fresh fruit+muesli mix, orange juice and a coffee, I'll get more options later. 20 minutes later at 07:38 I'm heading to check out and off to the tube. I follow the advice given by DDDC, walk over the footbridge, through the office building (so unBritish!) and into the Bank Street entrance of the Jubilee line.

Tube: Canary Wharf to London City
Leave Canary Wharf: 07:46
Arrive London City: 08:01
Jubilee line to Canning Town, then DLR.

That was easy enough. Seats all the way.



BA3289 - London City LCY to Granada GRX - 18 Aug 2014.
Embraer 190RS G-LCYN
1 Captain, 1 First Officer, 2 cabin crew, senior cabin crew level: BACF purser.

Scheduled departure 09:10 BST
Actual departure 09:16 – roll forward
Scheduled arrival: 12:50 CET
Actual arrival: 12:59 CET - doors open
Time needed to clear security at LCY: 13 minutes 22 seconds!!!

Unfortunately the App only has a part photo for Granada, it's odd which places have the full photo on the main page, in this case we just get a photo of the whale jet. Mind you, an A380 service from LCY to GRX would be very interesting. Anyway the security queue at LCY was as bad as I've ever seen it, the actual scan stage was very fast, but only 4 of the 6 channels were operating and the queues stretched out the back of the gates. They opened a 5th channel while I was there and things moved more quickly then. I'd probably saved time arriving later....

So I have a meeting in Granada, I've been there before but never with BA. My contact there is "technically" on holiday but he's probably looking forward to escaping wife and 8 (!) children for a few hours. So I have chosen not to wear tie and jacket today, and LCY is so hot I'm glad of that. No nanny jokes today I think.

We are airborne at 09:25, LCY has a unique set of operations that I’ve not seen at any other airport, including departing and arriving aircraft working the same runway simultaneously. For passengers leaving from gate 21 (which for some reason is located between gate 22 and 24) it includes a walk through the hustle and bustle of ground operations, including the nearby A318 being prepared for its trip to SNN and JFK. Boarding starts at 09:03, doors closed at 09:09. No issue with hand luggage as far as I can make out, a few passengers gate check larger items. An agent passed the queue by the gate giving yellow tags for under seat storage to those with 2 bags and gently persuading those with larger items into gate checking. I have only one bag, so no tag for me.



LCY is now quite congested though they cope fairly well with it. There is no lounge, which doesn’t bother me, I try not to spend too long there and wifi is free and easy to use. The boarding process involves going to pen areas, which do not have enough seats for everyone, so it’s best to hang back a bit in the main building until about 10 minutes before “gate closing” time on the boarding pass. But there again best not to leave it too late, there is a wooden gate which is physically closed at the appointed time.

I am in seat 2D which has a huge amount of leg room in front – 60 inches/150 cm I guess, and I’m the only passenger in Club Europe, yes the curtain is pulled to keep me and 5 empty seats from the glares of ET.



I’m handed a 500ml bottle of water on boarding. After take off I’m offered bucks fizz or champagne, good grief no! A cup of tea is swiftly presented instead. The 2 crew members start the fairly substantial ET hot breakfast, similar to the domestic Scottish/Northern Irish breakfasts with a few extra bits such as yoghurt added.

This is the CE breakfast to GRX:


To be honest if I was not doing this report diary I’d probably not bothered with this, there again I’m thinking that this may be all I get before evening time, so maybe it is better to have this now, I still have a NCL lounge apple in my bag somewhere. The Edinburgh purser tries hard, but fails, to persuade me to have the solitary waffle they loaded specially for me – note the maple syrup on the tray, which I guess was made over the road from LCY. The purser is very attentive, always “Sir” rather than my name, but I’m checked every 20 minutes or so. I guzzle 3 teas in that time.

After breakfast I work on my Powerpoint presentation for later in the week. I could do with getting at least a draft off to someone today for a second opinion before the meeting. Getting started is always the hardest bit, but on an aircraft without other distractions it’s not so difficult. In the end the words flow and I finish the draft in under an hour. I’ve got 2 other presentations that I need to sort out today too, so that will probably need a few hours this evening.

The aircraft looks 80% full, so that bodes well for this relatively new route. Mostly couples and families, I didn’t see any other laptops! The captain inflight update suggested that we were late in departing and that thanks to the strong head winds we would not be able to make up time either.

However we land fairly close to on time, a short walk to passports, no bag to collect, and I'm in a taxi within 3 minutes of doors open. Now I'm not a fan of taxi travel, but I'm only in Granada for a few hours and it gives me a chance to get emails off, this Flyertalk diary update and that Powerpoint slide off. I only occasionally peep up to the dashboard to see my usual suspicions about Spanish taxi drivers is confirmed: unless there's a compelling reason not to (e.g. a few nano-seconds off certain death), speed limits must be exceed by a minimum of 50% at all times.

Granada



So I get to central Granada within 15 minutes and my host is also early. The meeting, at a hotel restaurant in near Granada's mega baroque cathedral, goes well, my host is from Morocco but his Arabic is quite heavily accented and he gently laughs at my attempts to converse with him – “and which school taught you that rubbish, my friend?”. It breaks the ice at least. We settle on using French, and strategic use of the sugar pot. No time for food, just coffee.

The meeting ends around 15 hrs, so that gave me an hour or so before I need to return to the hotel. So I left my bag at the hotel, and belted up the hill to see the Alhambra, the truly remarkable triumph of Islamic civilisation in Europe, photo above. I also managed to pop into the Cathedral, before jumping into another taxi back to Granada Airport. This taxi driver had the standard approach to speed limits, and an unfortunate taste for the 18 greatest hits of Modern Talking. I am unable to dodge Brother Louie.




IB8015 - Granada GRX to Madrid MAD - 18 Aug 2014
Bombardier CRJ200 - EC-JNX
2 pilots (presumably) and 1 cabin crew

Scheduled departure 17:45 CET
Actual departure 17:37 – roll forward
Scheduled arrival: 18:50 CET
Actual arrival: 18:44 CET - doors open
Time needed to clear security at GRX: 21 seconds.

Granada airport is very small indeed. One big room for security and a café, another room for the 4 gates and the inevitable duty free shop linking the two. There was a room marked VIP in the corner, with an entry code door, but by the time I had sent off some emails it was time to board and I didn't investigate further- there were certainly no Iberia or other airline markings on it. Boarding consisted of leaving the gate, walking on to the apron and being invited to find our own way to the aircraft unsupervised! There was only one aircraft to choose from, though the airport information system suggested there were 2 IB flights leaving for Madrid within 5 minutes of each other, I didn't get to the bottom of that.



So this is an Air Nostrum service operated for Iberia Regional. It had its own in flight magazine, Aladierno, proudly stating they were part of oneworld, which is a generous interpretation.

The aircraft was a clapped out, no livery Bombardier aircraft. Some of the trolleys had TAP markings on them suggesting its long lost history. Again I was the only person in Business, and again it was me and 5 empty seats separated by a curtain. Quite the most uncomfortable service this week, even though it was quite a short flight. Here is the business class offering. The cabin crew member brought around a plate and a tray with 3 wrapped sandwiches and invited me to choose one of them, the other 2 being turkey and seafood sandwiches. I went for the chicken curry, which frankly tasted of neither, we are a long way from BaxterStorey's Coronation Chicken. But it was my first bite to eat after the CE breakfast (which now seems something of a luxury, with the benefit of hindsight). I did get an offer of another drink, but I think it was on the basis I wasn't supposed to accept the offer.



When we landed at T4 Madrid Barajas, it was to the very furthest gate on the building so it was a long, long walk - worse than Gatwick - to the bus to my hotel:



Nightstop: Hilton Madrid Airport

Booked: King Hilton Guestroom (entry level room with King Bed)
Received: Executive Relaxation Room, plus 2 x 330ml still water bottles (Diamond benefit).

Some wag on the Hilton forum said that if Hilton wanted to open any more properties in London they would have to turn Buckingham Palace into a Doubletree (or was it a Waldorf Astoria?). Well in Madrid it is the opposite, the Hilton Madrid Airport Hotel is the sole representative of the chain in the Spanish capital. This is actually my first stay in this hotel, despite being a Hilton fanboy, since the public transport options from the airport are so good, and the hotel options in central Madrid are vast, that it makes no sense to stay at the airport. So at 18:55 I turned up at the bus stance at T4 (it's just to the left of the main bus drive-ins) and low and behold there a shuttle bus waiting. It left just at 19:03, went to T3, then T1 and finally T2, not picking up anyone else. I got to the hotel at 19:25 and I found my room at 19:30. So with a similar timeframe I could have been spending the night in central Madrid. However my 08:00 meeting tomorrow is at this hotel.....

And there was another mistake I made here: At check in they said that I had 30 minutes or so before the Executive lounge closed. Having never been there before I dropped my bags in my "Executive Relaxation Room" and went to this lounge, got some snacks and water - all fine there, nothing special, not as good as the Metropole or Canary Wharf lounges. I also printed out my boarding passes for the next set of flights. However in doing this run for the lounge, I didn't notice that my double upgrade was in fact not really an upgrade at all: the hotel's outdoor swimming pool is 4 metres in front of the main window, on the same level, and there is some noise from the gym next door too, though I imagine that will stop in an hour or two. So this is a situation where I should have asked for a normal room, it would have met my needs and I really don't need a triangular jacuzzi bath. One shouldn't complain, the room is spacious and comfortable, if a bit heavy on Iberian white leather on parquet chic.

I'm not going to do too much tonight except flick through Flyertalk and read my Kindle, so that's it for one day.

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Aug 18, 14 at 3:28 pm
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