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Old Nov 10, 10, 9:04 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: GGL, BA lifetime Gold, Many Hotel Sparkles
Posts: 875


Club Europe, First and Club World all sampled.

Time once again to give the BAEC Forum some PAYBACK, in the form of a lovingly crafted and an all together less active trip report than our own Globalste’s recent moves.

With RL (real life) causing forcing a rash episode of growing up and being all responsible I haven’t recently had any time to geek out. I have met many friends through the simple joys of online multiplayer gaming and the producer of these games is industry giant Blizzard Entertainment. I’m a bad Starcraft player and the lure of having access to press passes to the 2010 BlizzCon proved too much + some kind of TP run lobbed in for our respective Gold / Silver Renewals.

Weakly framed excuse demonstrated dear reader we can continue onto the Trip Report.

Ex-EU – for £savings€
After runining a friends life by taking him First out some years ago he cannot actually travel in Y anymore for long haul. The obvious cost saving approaches and combos were 1) A sale fare 2) MFU 3) Ex-EU 4) Shareholder Discount.

Club LHR to LAX direct was coming in around £2880, Club from Amsterdam was €1790 and after shareholder discount €1467. So €1467 + £198 positioning flight was a cost level we could go with. Even with the sale that appeared later in the year we still saved £380 over the sale ex-EU fees. I prefer to think of saving €1100 at all times.

Once again ITA is a joy to use in finding the cheapest ex-eu starting point.

The itinerary is below, I crafted it so we had the change from LHR to Gatwick on the return it meant I could have my bags picked up at LHR and my friend could have his at Gatwick, both closer to our respective final destinations.

Ticket 1
Out bound Day 1
18:40:00 20:50:00 Gatwick (London) Amsterdam BA8119
Ticket 2
Out bound Day 2
10:05:00 10:25:00 Amsterdam Heathrow (London) BA0429
16:05:00 19:05:00 Heathrow (London) Los Angeles BA0269
Return Day 1
16:55:00 11:00:00 San Francisco International Heathrow (London) BA284
Return Day 2
15:20:00 17:30:00 Heathrow (Gatwick) Amsterdam BA8117
now back to Ticket 1
Return Day 2
18:10:00 18:20:00 Amsterdam Gatwick (London) BA8118

Pre Flight
A few days before the flight I noticed that First reward availability had become available on our LHR>LAX leg in First. Following on from other threads I tried my luck with the BA lurkers, low and behold, on this occasion I could be helped. AWESOME (In geek style power up / level up noise heard in background)

Positioning Flight LGW>AMS - Club Europe Boeing 737 – 1D/1F

I had arrived via train and slipped into Gatwick, baggage checked to AMS.
Greeting me on the newly refurbished Gatwick South<>North train was shiny British Airways advertising with the most appropriate advert.

Google told me my travelling pal was on his way

.. sadly I had already started on some sannies and fizz.

The first lounge was mostly empty and was in good order. Extra chairs appeared to have been installed. Staff were lurking about keen to keep the place tidy.

The flight itself was fine. BA’s Club Europe service standards were all met in fact exceeded with the offering a free malteaser chocolate left over from cleaning.

A Scorpion it was not. The crew were pleasant, service from the galley and multiple requests if we required any more drinks/bread to go with the chicken Salad.

In Amsterdam
We burnt some Priority club points on the newly refurbished city-centre Crowne Plaza hotel. A high quality Twin room was waiting and at €0 ZERO FREE it was ideal. (Word of warning all the windows now have improved sound shielding in the form of a second pain of glass/plastic. When you go to gaze inquisitively out of the window onto Amsterdam, and you will gaze, be ready for the soft thump as you didn’t see the second bit of glass. My forehead print and others left as evidence)

AMS > LHR T5 – 1A / 1C Club Europe

After being up early enough we made the 10min walk from Hotel to Train Platform and directly to the airport. If only Terminal 5 was a decent railway network hub.

The lounge here has indeed been improved, some new furniture, lick of paint a bit smarter but nothing amazing. It needed tidying up and now it looks fine.

Our bags were checked right through to LAX and so we boarded on time for


Well actually it was the first thing we ate and so was most welcome, I announced I had issues and took the 1st Fizz of the day. We landed a little early and the way over was just ‘nice’

Terminal 5 – Concorde Room

We landed, things appeared quiet, there were a few larger planes taxing around and I suspected a new wave of transfers coming in. So we both went airside to use South Security and then the secret door into the CCR. I used the NEW e-passport readers and they worked fine, a little slower than IRIS but I wasn’t used to them so next time it’ll go faster.

As we had gone airside in Heathrow we avoided the flight connections documents check so we presented ourselves to “Visa and Passport check” inside T5 check in. Once done, we re-presented ourselves to security who allowed us through to no security queue and into CCR for breaky.

Before we ate we booked ‘treatments’. Even though our flight wasn’t until later recently it gets booked up very quickly for the Elemis mini-treatments.

CCR was quiet, as normal, relaxing and generally wonderful. Somehow I dropped my tea pot lid into the tea pot but the runny boiled eggs and soldiers made up for my tea pot wielding incompetence.

We headed for showers and met on the terraces area of the CCR. There was one more traveller who refuses to pay extra for premium travel, so we brought him in like a lost lamb and he proceeded to eat most of the menu.
Mean while what I can only stereotype as music producers had arrived, the one big big fellow fell asleep outside and he was really snoring so much and so vibrantly that playing children stopped in wonder and pointed.

Transfer to T5B was easy, flight showed as boarding the moment we took the lift down to the train. We arrived at gate, our friend joined the queue and we marched straight onto the plane.

LHR > LAX – First 5E/5F

The First Purser and her team were just awesome, from the tactful offering of Pjs that might fit my delicate frame to general giggles all very professional. The first cabin was in good order and nothing was falling apart. Some Hollywood types were onboard I didn’t recognise them at first.

Newly branded NEW First items were handed out and the menus were all in the new style.

Large Menus here
First Menu Front Page
First Menu Middle Pages
First Menu Rear Page

I opted for the Chicken Starter,

then the Beef Wellington and to finish me off the Raspberry Cream cake thing. After reading the Beef Wellington could be dry I asked for them to cook it as rare as they could and it was good.

I didn’t stray off of the fizz until dessert wine then I settled into a film. I know it’s a short blast of First but it was how it should be I suppose, just easy and effortless with no fuss the cabin crew worked so well together. I wanted for nothing.

With 4hrs to go I wandered down to back to find the 3rd traveller in our party. We stayed at the rear galley for 40mins chatting and Captain Des was down socialising with some crew. I enjoy Pilots wandering about so many seem uneasey around hordes of passengers. This dude stopped to talk to us and after a while he was providing some winning tips on places to go this weekend. Thx Captain Des ^ To reward him I deflected the serried ranks of WT passengers asking him for food or juice by pointing out the prepared and set out offerings the crew had prepared.

Afternoon tea was lovely; I was still full from dinner however. Down and landed onto stand and ‘jobs-a-gooden’. Well done forms completed for the crew. I spent time during the flight chatting to the First crew the ladies were all on top form. My pal spent most of his flight sleeping, no stamina some folks.

Landing in LAX a few mins early we arrived with zero planes ahead of us, 5 mins for passport control 5mins for baggage I couldn’t believe I was outside by the hotel shuttle bus within 15mins. A Record for me.

After the flight and on route up to North California we have Blizzcon Anaheim , Monterey and finally San Francisco

Massive tourism, including some geeking out

, horrific Holiday Inn Express Breakfast,

the awesome Clement Monterey Intercontinental and a Segway tour (queue tasteful pic with Alcatraz in the backgroun)

My Clement Motnerey comments are here in the ICH thread http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/15062358-post3801.html

SFO > LHR – Club World – Upper Deck 64A/C

San Fran, what an airport all so easy. Boarding from the lounge I can never tire of. Up into the plane and we are greeted by a baby, mum and dad who wish to take the 64A/C pair, they offer a swap for 64J/K. Okay my first ‘squealer’ on a night flight. My buddy and I decided to write ourselves off via booze.

Once again the crew were champions I counted 7 drinks runs by the end of the main course. Needless to say I swapped to water, ate my pumpkin pie, finished off “get him to the greek” and went into springboard bed mode. Just a few disturbances on the flight home from crying baby but mum and dad did an excellent job. In reality I woke up no more than if the flight had been quiet.

I blame the quelling powers of bucks fizz and a large dinner + being tired.

Landed, through Iris and past the queues to find our luggage coming out as we arrived at the belt.

We used the arrivals lounge for a shower and toast then headed off to Gatwick

We stowed our baggage as arranged and took one of the number of National Express busses to Gatwick, all very painless. (£19 each)
On arrival for our 15:20 flight I noticed that check in had moved to 20:00 the same day. EEK. French striking had for whatever reason affected us. My friend went into meltdown, as an infrequent traveller things going wrong never happened. The departure time moved from 20:55 to 20:00 to 19:00 to 18:00 finally resting on just being 1.5hrs late. So we did the out to AMS and the return to LGW easily enough.

The service on this final Club Europe leg was fine, afternoon tea out and a salad back. Our appetites were somewhere over Canada at this point so not much was eaten. The cleaning team did leave something for us again, not a malteaser this time but a used latex glove.

More BA Miles
As a bonus the earning rates changed so my expected Gold Miles claw back went from 25,706miles to 37652miles. My mates from 21892miles to 25188miles

Chatting with the Stars
I spent an hour chatting with Melanie Griffith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanie_Griffith )of “Working Girl” fame and didn’t know it, she was so pleasant.

Did I have red wine ?
It appears I have a glass of red next to my beef wellington I don't remember that *shame*

Crisis Management
If doing an immediate turnaround double brief your travelling pals that delays could happen or take a stun gun to prevent an episode mid-first lounge.

Love your Flyertalk, play with your Moderators
If you read the guides in this forum all the info you need is here and ready to be used, spend time playing with ITA to get used to it.

I will be back to Monterey , I really did like that area.

Anyone fancy a poor quality game of StarcraftII let me know
BugAlugs is offline  
Old Nov 10, 10, 9:51 am
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: BOS, LAX
Programs: AA EXP MM, UA Plat, SPG Plat
Posts: 3,891
Sounds like you had a nice trip!

Originally Posted by BugAlugs View Post
Does BA actually offer mojitos?
DWFI is offline  
Old Nov 10, 10, 10:00 am
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Programs: BA Blue, IC Spire Ambassador
Posts: 4,580
Excellent ^

Really enjoyed reading this TR -glad you had good flights and enjoyed your trip.
IAMORGAN is offline  
Old Nov 10, 10, 10:03 am
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: UK
Programs: BA Gold, VS Gold, HH Diamond, SPG Gold
Posts: 514
Originally Posted by DWFI View Post
Sounds like you had a nice trip!
Does BA actually offer mojitos?
Thats a margarita I believe... and I wish they did

Great report. That Holiday Inn breakfast looks terrible. What is the yellow thing? Butter? Egg? Bread?
LaydeeSarah is offline  
Old Nov 10, 10, 10:18 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: GGL, BA lifetime Gold, Many Hotel Sparkles
Posts: 875
Originally Posted by LaydeeSarah View Post
Thats a margarita I believe... and I wish they did

Great report. That Holiday Inn breakfast looks terrible. What is the yellow thing? Butter? Egg? Bread?
It is a pre-formmated Egg and Cheese omlette thing. I settled for a muffin in the end
BugAlugs is offline  
Old Nov 10, 10, 11:54 am
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: UK
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Originally Posted by BugAlugs View Post
It is a pre-formmated Egg and Cheese omlette thing. I settled for a muffin in the end
Pretty standard stuff for Holiday Inn express.....
johnny5a is offline  
Old Nov 10, 10, 1:42 pm
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: in a cabin
Posts: 6,141
Mod hat off:

One of the best reports I've seen. Your writing style is hilarious.
Interesting to hear from another person who's made good friends via the online gaming world. I made some great friends (still today) through Quake 2 CTF.

As a side note BugAlugs:
I sponsored Blizzard with 12.50 EUR per month for years until last month when I cancelled the subscription due to The Cataclysm patch causing mayhem and I simply CBA anymore...

Hows SC2?

Mod hat on:

We'll let this one roll here for a while before moving to the TR forum
Petrus is offline  
Old Nov 10, 10, 2:06 pm
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: UK
Programs: Mucci! And BA Silver – previous awards - Gold 11, Silver 5, Bronze 2
Posts: 3,141
^ Excellent trip report. Interesting, amusing and easy to read.

I liked the fact that you kept on topic without some of the tortuous and excessive detail that some posters get up to!
BA or bust is offline  
Old Nov 11, 10, 8:27 am
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: ARN
Programs: Mucci Entry Level, BA Gold, EK Pleb, SK Pleb, QR Pleb
Posts: 3,585
Lovely trip report ^

The only thing missing is a picture with you and Melanie Griffith
Lobengula is offline  
Old Nov 11, 10, 10:45 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Programs: GGL, BA lifetime Gold, Many Hotel Sparkles
Posts: 875
Well SC is great fun but playing with hardcore friends shows how much of a noobie I am. Thankfully I've never played WoW but many friends do. This year for the first time in ages I am not making the Trek to Dreamhack in Jonkoping

Our Me really wasn't looking at her best. She also had a classic passenger meltdown when being told to sit and stay. She did not not exit the toilet until 8mins till touch down. I've never seen so many crew ensure someone sits down
BugAlugs is offline  

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