Which Sleeper Service routes actually work well?

Old Jun 11, 11, 12:30 pm
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Which Sleeper Service routes actually work well?

While I know it created some furore hereabouts when it was introduced, I quite like the principle of the CW Sleeper Service. I have taken a few sleeper service flights from the US East Coast but the service never seems to get to "lights off" quickly enough. There's always too much faffing about for my liking and too many people wanting to introduce themselves over the PA. Generally however my "next day" has not been too bad and the extra hour of sleep snatched by not eating on the plane has been a godsend.

However this morning I was on the MCT-AUH-LHR Sleeper Service and have been feeling knackered all day.

The Food options in the lounge at MCT were abysmal which was just as well as there was nowhere to sit other than on the floor in the small kids' room there. The lounge is not large and is shared with every other airline so it was absolutely packed.

As a Sleeper Service the timing also leaves a lot to be desired. Theoretically it is great as you leave MCT at 00:01 (coach to aircraft but at least F and J pax get a separate coach) but then you land in Abu Dhabi 45 minutes later, so you get 20 mins sleep if you're lucky, followed by cleaners coming onboard, handbaggage security check, then about 20 more minutes till new passengers board so you have just dozed off again when you get bumped around yet again with the new pax finding their places.

Today we eventually left Abu Dhabi just after 02:10 local time, with cabin lights off so a chance to snooze off again, only for the lights to be switched back on full, then off again, then on full again then off again.

Then the personal introduction announcements from the flight crew and CSD, then the announcement about the IFE. Finally almost 3 hours into a 9 hour sleeper service, the cabin was quiet with lights off. All on the dreaded G-ZZZ 777 fleet with no AVOD so it wasn't even possible to line up some videos while waiting for quiet time.

So my question is what routes work really well (if any) from a Sleeper Service perspective, with a late enough departure, good food in the lounge, rapid boarding, quick lights out and a long enough flight time for it to really really work??
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Old Jun 11, 11, 12:46 pm
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My one experience of a sleeper was the late flight back to London from Boston. It worked really well (UD makes a big difference too) with one small problem - the food in the BOS lounge was grim. Otherwise it was great, breakfast and shower in the arrivals lounge after a decent few hours and then on to work.
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Old Jun 11, 11, 12:49 pm
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I would probably say Washington DC and Chicago ( does chicago have a sleeper service?)

Whilst Toronto, Boston and NYC have sleeper service ( and good food in the lounge) the flight times can be a bit too short for a good nights sleep ( but the sleeper service gives more time for some sleep and the flat bed is a lot better than the reclining seats in WTP & WT.)

The problem with the middle east services is that as described , the food service in the lounge is not that great ( OTOH I think BA assumes that given the flight time 0000 from MCT and 02XX from AUH most people will have had a good dinner before heading to the airport plus the fact that the lounges are not BA limits them as to what they can do in terms of food)



PS I have done the sleeper service from both JFK & BOS ( whilst the lounge food was ok the flight time from BOS was a bit too short for a good nights sleep -still managed a few hours but a couple more would have been great)
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Old Jun 11, 11, 12:51 pm
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Yyz and JFK normally work well, lounges and food are ok. I find BA do the sleeper service well, but it loses effectiveness when you get more than a couple of people eating onboard.

Perhaps they need to push it more in the lounge and actively encourage people to eat there?
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Old Jun 11, 11, 1:02 pm
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Originally Posted by The _Banking_Scot View Post

I would probably say Washington DC and Chicago ( does chicago have a sleeper service?)
Chicago does have sleeper service (the 20.05 flight) but the food in the lounge is particularly atrocious in my opinion and the timing means you basically need to eat around 6pm which is far too early by my taste (as in, for later JFK or BOS or IAD departures, people can eat at 6 if they want but people like me can also eat at 7 or 8!). ORD is also one of those airports where a lot of time is spent taxiing so you effectively can't sleep for quite a long time... I think the general issue is food in the lounges has become canteen like in many places, which is not excusable as it is easier and cheaper to produce food on the ground. Part of the issue may be that i personally dislike buffets.
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Old Jun 11, 11, 1:24 pm
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I found the ORD sleeper service (later flight) to be ok but don't expect too much! JFK also pretty decent on the upper deck. Same as DXB also on the Upper deck. I think the Upper deck is really the key though....
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Old Jun 11, 11, 1:41 pm
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Finally a long time lurker finds something he can comment on!

Have done ORD a lot, and its hit and miss - sometimes you get away easily and lights go out quick, given the flight time you can get a decent 6 hours if not a little more. Mainly have been on 777's but last time out was on the 747 thats now on that route and snagged 64A (thanks FT!) which did make a difference once the crew believed I didn't want anything more than a nightcap...bless em!

Am doing BOS this Wednesday night, again upper deck so hopefully I can ignore the service around me and get a solid 5 hrs.

I dont usually bother with the hassle of getting a shower on arrival, I'm usually heading home rather than into an office so I usually grab an espresso and bacon roll...just want to get back to the family
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Old Jun 11, 11, 1:44 pm
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Welcome to flyertalk and the BA forum DuncanW!


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Old Jun 11, 11, 1:59 pm
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Honoured to be welcomed by such a stalwart of the forum!

Has to be said until two years ago despite being a BA advocate, purely because of routes and reliability I had no status, no idea about MFU's, no expectation of ever flying business as company policy is WTP at the very most, 64A/K meant nothing to me...I guess I'm just another perfect FT conversion, now I preach miles accumulation to my colleagues and my wife wonders about my obsession with checking my miles balance and BA sale dates..
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Old Jun 11, 11, 2:37 pm
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Welcome to FT DuncanW.
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Old Jun 11, 11, 2:42 pm
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I find that the DOH-BAH-LHR sleeper works very well for me.

I am not interested in sleeping on the DOH-BAH sector, or on the ground at BAH. (Apart from when Eyjafjallajokull caused disruption.)

But I do like being properly tired when the time comes to put the seat back. After a quick couple of cookies I find that I get a good five hours sleep on board as I only wake up when the seatbelt signs go on.

That said, I noticed that in 2010 the lights went on after take off from BAH for a drinks service. This is not necessary and it ruins the atmosphere on the flight! In the years before the lights were not illuminated and the service was carried on much more discretely.
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Old Jun 11, 11, 4:14 pm
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I struggle with Boston as it just not far enough to get any sleep really apart from a long power nap. The middle east do work well by in large but I tend to be pretty disciplined about eating somewhere nice then getting to airport, getting in mood witha nice drink then ignore breakie and do it on landing. JFK can just about work too as usually some food can be found which will be ok.

I often wondered what could be done to make it better and never really came up with much. I know cater in lounge in Middle East, but usually I look at 2am timing and think na anyway. Maybe there could be a real effort to minimise announcements and specifically ensure they are all done before the seat belt sign gets switched off? Can think of much else?
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Old Jun 11, 11, 4:37 pm
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I think that there is an assumption on the late night / early morning midddle east flights that you will have probably eaten dinner before heading for airport, I know I have usally done this on the MCT, AUH and DXB flights
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Old Jun 11, 11, 5:36 pm
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The CSD could certainly do his welcome on the ground.
Crew could come round on the ground with a notepad enquiring whether customers wanted:
(1) Food
(2) Hot choc/cookies
(3) A drink
(4) A sleep
If they select (4) ask if they want woken for breakfast.

I don't actually know how early you are allowed to recline...
Presumably 20 minutes into the flight when the seatbelt sign is off.
Having already agreed you don't need any food or drinks, passengers could get straight to sleep 20-30 mins and don't need awoken until 20-30 mins before landing... which means on a JFK flight taking just 5 hours 50 (source - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-hjTiUZmUs) you could manage a decent 5 hours sleep.
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Old Jun 11, 11, 7:34 pm
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YYZ would work well as a sleeper service if it left around 22:00. Perhaps earlier works for someone returning to the UK after a day in Toronto but it's way too early in the evening for someone living here to get to sleep without taking something to knock them out which would make you feel just as bad on arrival as if you hadn't slept anyway.
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