Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > British Airways | Executive Club
Reload this Page >

Trip Report - Helsinki, Amsterdam, Brussels and Barra - a sporadic TP run

Trip Report - Helsinki, Amsterdam, Brussels and Barra - a sporadic TP run

Reply

Old Oct 24, 18, 4:41 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: West Sussex, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold (11/Dec/18)
Posts: 223
Trip Report - Helsinki, Amsterdam, Brussels and Barra - a sporadic TP run

So after several years of lurking, and a few months of more active posting, I thought I'd attempt a trip report, tied in with a semi-planned TP run and a chance to hit at least Silver as quickly as possible - making use of the BA sale.


Day 0
I start the pre trip vibes with the makings of a cough and cold on my back. It certainly was not requested nor required, but hey ho - it wasn't going to stop me from enjoying the trip! I just considered it to be an "enhancement".

Day 1
Friday 5th October 2018
15:50 LGW - JER, BA2774
A319 G-EUPJ, CE, seat 1D


And so it starts! An early shift at work proceeded this, so a quick trip home to drop the car off and get the bus to the airport.
My first flight was proceeded by a visit to the LGW South Galleries Club lounge, where the usual champage has been replaced temporarily by Jeepers Grand Rose - a really nice option, of which a few may have been consumed.




The usual CE Band 1 food on board was offered - afternoon tea, the usual selection documented by many, a nice light snack after indulging in the GC lounge food options, and of course accompanied by a little more champagne...




Back into the lounge at Jersey - a welcome old friend I had visited many times back in 2014. However, I was a bit miffed to see that Liberation wasn't stocked any more! @T8191 you need to complain on that front :-)


19:25 JER - LGW, BA2777
A319 G-DBCB, CE, seat 1A


Two row 1 flights for an (at this time) lowely Blue! I'm being spoiled...! I noted however that I had the whole of row 1 to myself!
Once airbourne, the usual chicken salad option was offered and wolfed down to soak up some of the champagne ready for the transit to Heathrow by train.




My pre booked overnight stop was the Holiday Inn Express Ariel - free transfer on the Red buses and easily found, and directed to use automatic check in facilities. A well needed sleep was had.


Day 2
Saturday 6th October 2018
11:25 LHR - HEL, BA794
A320 G-TTOE, CE, seat 6A


So... my first experience of Heathrow T3, and after getting back to Heathrow again on TfL bus services. I met with one of my friends who was flying out to America on Branson Air, before opting for the Cathay Pacific lounge (his recommendation). A suitably indulgent breakfast was had, and a couple of glasses (it's a holiday, so it seems to be the done thing to do). Oops, I am sure I was supposed to be on a diet...

Alas the niceness of the lounge was short lived - gate 24B was offered on the boards, so a bus gate; although the bus journey was short and sweet and it was a nice touch having the flight number on the bus indicators themselves!




Menu provided and the chicken was chosen, no real complaints although the bread sauce made things a little swamped.





Arrival into Helsinki brought another bus gate (no surprises there with the building works) and a lengthy walk through the terminal, although not in the same light as Schiphol's walk from the 'D' pier. (More to follow on that later).
Transfer from Helsinki Airport by train is quick and painless - 5 Euro each way on their suburban services and only took half an hour if that.



Arriving at Helsinki's central railway station


My accomodation for the two nights was the Crowne Plaze in Helsinki - about 15 minutes walk from the station, although there was a tram stop fairly nearby.

The evening was spent in a rock bar - Boothill - a good selection of ales available and, purely ironically, the performer was a Blues Rock singer and guitarist from Fife!

Day 3
Sunday 7th October


A bit of sightseeing in Helsinki, including going up in Skywheel Helsinki (their version of the Millenium Wheel) and visiting Linnanmaki - a theme park which features a wooden roller coaster among other scary rides. Well worth a visit and not badly priced compared with the theme parks of the UK.



View from the Helsinki Skywheel. The windows are all tinted...




Yes this is actually a wooden roller coaster!


It's perfectly safe...


A view from a free observation ride


Dizziness causation device


Dinner at Helsinki's version of the Hard Rock Cafe, and afterwards drinks at another bar recommdation - Kitty's - tucked inside a shopping area but another good one for a choice of ales.





Day 4
Monday 8th October 2018
17:10 HEL - LHR, BA799
A320 G-EUYE, CE, seat 7F


After a leisurely morning with breakfast at the hotel and a stroll around the shops (including a visit to the Moomin Shop), train back to a rather wet Helsinki Airport to check in and make use of the Lounge.



View from the [email protected] lounge.


By now I have triggered Bronze, but still directed towards the [email protected] Lounge after passport control. A small and randomly cute venue, bit cosy for the amount of people in there but I spent my time on Flyertalk catching up on the gossip. A nice touch was a bar style tap to hand pour your own Finnish beer.

Another bus gate, gate 52a. Left on the first bus to arrive by the aircraft... and then we waited.
Worryingly, the FO kept looking around and around the nearside landing gear.
Eventually, we were released from the bus and onto the plane to take our places.
Shortly before departure time, the flight crew come onto the PA. They had found a cut on one of the tyres on pre-flight inspection (fresh crew onto this plane) and had called for an engineer to inspect.
Alas it was decreed that the tyre would need changing, and a little over 2 hours later we set off. The cabin crew were proactive and helpful and was passing around soft drinks for the whole flight and champagne for the CE end too, and kept us regularly informed.
On board service was okay although I didn't get my first meal choice being suitably far away from the front row, but the pasta was still quite tasty.




Landing back at Heathrow at 20:52, some 2 1/4 hours late, I make the trek back home ready for the next leg of the trip...

Day 5
Tuesday 9th October 2018
08:00 LGW - JER, BA2770
A319 G-DBCB, CE, seat 5A


So any sane person would have had a lie in by now? Not me. Up at 5am for the local bus to Gatwick and back into the GC lounge for coffee and a cheeky glass of bubbles.
The usual Band 1 breakfast offered and taken, although the omelette seems to have been replaced by scrambled egg, which came across as being a little bland.




A day of sightseeing in Jersey taking up the 2 hour boat trip around the south part of the island...




...and lunch (as per a previous T8191 recommendation) at the Pomme D'Or Hotel just off the bus station.




A little shopping then heading back to Jersey Airport to hide in the lounge for a while.

17:35 JER - LGW, BA2775
A319 G-DBCG, CE, seat 4A


No surprises as to the food offering on this leg but accepted along with some more bubbles. First nested trip complete, I retire back home. To rest? No chance...!
TWCLAM likes this.

Last edited by mtikky; Oct 24, 18 at 5:16 am Reason: Now with pictures
mtikky is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 4:42 am
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: West Sussex, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold (11/Dec/18)
Posts: 223
Second run... sanity questionable!

Day 6
Wednesday 10th October 2018
08:05 LGW - JER, BA2770
A319 G-DBCK, CE, seat 5A


One again back to the GC lounge for caffeine, prior to a three sector day - including my first back to back at Jersey.
By now my cough and cold are hitting their highest point, but I do my best to put a brave face on it.
On top of that, Crawley and Gatwick are surrounded by fog, so we push back late and are in the air even later - about 40 minutes late.



Fooooooooooooooooooooooooog...

This being my first POUG in the trip, I accept the 'alternative' CE breakfast option, omelette and mini hash browns - in my opinion slightly better than the normal option although still as greasy as ever.




I get chatting with the CC and mention I'll see them on the way back!

09:50 JER - LGW, BA2771
A319 G-DBCK, CE, seat 1D


After a quick hop from the arrival corridor straight back into the Gate 10 premium holding pen, I re-greet the CC on the way back in.
At that point we are told by the flight deck that our slot to depart has been lost and we may not be departing until circa 11am - no problem for me but a major problem for a "DYWKIA" sat a few rows behind me. I do feel sorry for the cabin crew being rudely complained at in this manner...

Luckily, after pushing back and sitting on a remote area, we set off as expected heading back to a now bright and sunny Gatwick, ready to face the bus arrival and the hike up the stairs.

No flight connections route between domestic and international (or vice versa) but I have fast track security so a short trip back through security and back into the lounge!

16:00 LGW - AMS, BA2762
A320 G-GATS, CE, seat 3A


By now slightly dizzy from to-ing and fro-ing between airports, and after a couple of hours in the lounge, afternoon tea is accepted but unfortunately I nodded off and missed the scones run! Worse things in life to worry about eh...
A non-Polderbaan arrival is welcomed, but gate D24 is not. Walkies...!

A short train ride to the Holiday Inn Express outside Sloterdijk station, check in, dinner at the nearby Cafe Wissenkerke and bed for the night.



#wewantplates


Day 7
Thursday 11th October 2018


A day of rest surely? No chance. I'd decided to do something different today and on arrival at Amsterdam on the previous day, I'd booked FIP (rail staff discounted) tickets for a return trip to Brussels on Thalys.



The magnificent Amsterdam Centraal station


Low flying bird heading for Schiphol...


Thalys International Rail service


Completely off topic on FT, but a smooth trip there and a wander around Brussels, with lunch in a nearby cafe.



Does nobody use plates any more? And this was an open sandwich...


Unfortunately flooding in France resulted in my return train trip being delayed by an hour!
Returning to drop off my bags, I then head into Amsterdam for the evening to visit a local bar (Proeflokaal Arendsnest) which claims to have over 50 Dutch beers on draft - with a massive board to prove it. A few are chosen before the last train back to Sloterdijk.



Beer anyone?



Day 8
Friday 12th October 2018
13:55 AMS - LGW, BA2761
A319 G-DBCD, CE, seat 1A


Another three sector day approaches however my throat now seemed to be getting over the worst of the cough.
I woke up this morning to note I'd now hit the points threshold for Silver, but my status on the app still showed Bronze.
A lie in and a gentle trip back to the airport to meet a work colleague who was flying in on the first LGW - AMS for his own trip. I'd expected the worst at AMS security (last time I flew it took 90 minutes to get through) but breezed through easily.
Headed up for my first visit to the 'new' BA lounge, and a bit concerned over the Fawlty Towers-esque sign on the entrance!




Usual chicken salad option accepted along with bubbles, and a well welcomed jetbridge arrival, with very little queues at all at the e-passport gates.

15:50 LGW - JER, BA2774
A319 G-EUPJ, CE, seat 2C


Afternoon tea accepted and this time I made sure I got a scone! With not knowing whether to put jam first or cream first, I went with the 50/50 option and did both...





Spoke with the CC and told them I'd see them on the way back but on the other side of the curtain, a happy chuckle from them on this front!

On arrival I stayed in the corridor and tried my chances with the lounge but was denied entry as the app still showed me as Bronze. Nice try though.

17:35 JER - LGW, BA2775
A319 G-EUPJ, ET, seat 10B (swapped to 10C)


My first leg behind the curtain since this mammoth trip began but still with semi-priority boarding through my Bronze status. No BoB accepted although this mainly resulted from me nodding off!
I ended up sat between a couple who had booked 10A and 10C so I offered to swap my middle seat for them, which they accepted.
Returning as ever to a bus connection, I happily returned back home, tired but contented.

Days 9 and 10
Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October


Off topic time for FT, but a well needed rest at this point - or something like that. Spending time with my two youngest kids on the Saturday afternoon, followed by a drive to Slough to see a TV show filmed (Insert Name Here). The Sunday featured the usual British classic activity of the tip run, followed by a quick trip on the Spa Valley Railway.
TWCLAM likes this.

Last edited by mtikky; Oct 24, 18 at 5:37 am Reason: Now with pictures
mtikky is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 4:43 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: West Sussex, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold (11/Dec/18)
Posts: 223
Third run, and two firsts for me

Day 11
Monday 15th October
08:55 LCY - GLA, BA8722
E170 G-LCYI, ET, seat 3A


No rest for the wicked as they say, and a curious routing to City Airport - but it worked! Travelling via London Bridge and Woolwich Arsenal to pick up the DLR from there was pain free and much easier than the tangled mess of changing at Bank/Monument Underground.

For this leg I was happy to go in ET especially as CityFlyer still offers an on-board service even with only 2 cabin crew - bacon roll and coffee will do me thank you!




Arrived in Glasgow and had to go landside to check in my bag (despite being appropriate size for BA) for my next leg... then invested in the Upper Deck lounge (22) to sit, chill and make use of the power supply ready for a first for me in many regards...

13:00 GLA - BRR, LM451
Twin Otter G-HIAL, seat 7A


First beach runway? Tick
First Twin Otter flight? Tick
Am I happy to be in the exit row? Why not...!?!!



# baby plane do do do do do do... #



Exit row seat


Safety demonstration given by the first officer and we set off, barely got above 3000 feet all the way across, including routing via Tobermory (Balamory for those with young kids).



So what was the story in Balamory today?


Arrived safely and the local "bus" route (a 14 seat minbus) took me to the Castlebay Hotel for the night, for the best nights sleep in ages, a lovely meal in the hotel and some highly picturesque views as well.



Ops 1 providing baggage handling






A locally made lamb hotpot had at the hotel


If you come to Barra out of season (after September) - be aware that very little is open. The hotel also housed the only bar in the area, and mobile signal on the island is pretty much non existent - not a bad thing really, although most public places have wifi of some sort.

Day 12
Tuesday 16th October


I awake to strong winds and heavy rainfall. Am I to be marooned on the island?
After a suitably filling breakfast, I check out from the hotel but remain in their lounge area, consuming my body weight in coffee whilst waiting for the rain to calm down.




A further bus departure at 13:20 sends me along the rickety roads back to Barra Airport.
The flights were delayed inbound - presumably caused by the said weather being a little unfriendly - but it did result in both Twin Otters being on the sand at the same time.






LM452 departs for Glasgow.


15:05 BRR - GLA, LM456
Twin Otter G-SGTS, seat 2A


Expecting the worst, although with a clear view straight into the flight deck this time, we take off rapidly and veer off to the right, before climbing up over the cloud cover. The route is amended on the way to swap from the 'scenic' route to a more direct routing straight to Glasgow Airport.




Landing this time brings us straight to baggage reclaim, rather than into the departure gates.

At this point I take a local bus to Paisley Gilmour Street to get a train to Edinburgh, via Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street, to book into my hotel for the night - Holiday Inn (right next to Edinburgh Zoo and served by the 100 bus). Safely checked in, I head back into the city for food and to while away the small hours at Whistlebinkies, a daily live music bar.



Saying hello to one of my old work colleagues, now half relocated north of the wall



How much bed does one man need!?!!


Day 13
Wednesday 17th October
10:05 EDI - LHR, BA1441
Boeing 767 G-BZHB, ET, seat 8K


Waking up and realising that you can have too much of a good thing, and with not having free breakfast included in my hotel room, I wash and brush up and head to the airport.
Security was suitably quick and pain free, and I install myself into the lounge. With breakfast options limited here compared to my home airport, I opt for porridge, coffee and orange juice - not bad in all respects.

And so to my first 767 experience. Somewhat unique for me (but probably completely normal to most on FT) and I settle into my window seat, somewhat jammed into the arm rests. The cosy feeling of the old B737 fleet ex LGW is felt in these.
My seat neighbour however was keen to take the armrest for herself and her many items on her - I didn't think you could have a handbag held for takeoff?
Once airbourne, I catch up on some Zzzz's (helped by accidentally reclining myself on takeoff) until we land at Heathrow.

Unfortunately my final experience was less happy. With no Heathrow Express (overhead wire damage the previous day) and a keenness not to be on the Tube for hours, I opt for the local bus link to Feltham.
This would have worked fine if:
1 - I hadn't just missed a bus, and had a 15 minute wait
2 - the buses in Feltham weren't on diversion, so got kicked off one bus in Feltham village and had to wait ten minutes for another one
3 - the trains weren't full and standing already as they were coming from Reading - with people trying to dodge Paddington

I get home around 3pm, catch up on post, then start planning my next trip!

Last edited by mtikky; Oct 24, 18 at 6:07 am Reason: Now with pictures
mtikky is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 4:57 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Brighton UK
Programs: BAEC-Silver, AMEX-BA Prem' Plus & Standard, Accor Gold, HH-Silver, IHG,IBIS On Business
Posts: 565
The first part has been a great read so far and looking forward to the rest. Congrats on hitting Silver, looking forward to getting there ourselves in a few weeks although we've/ will have taken a much more leisurely 6 months to do it.
TWCLAM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 5:11 am
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: JER
Programs: BA Gold/OWE, several MUCCI, and assorted Pensions!
Posts: 27,913
Well, sooner you than me I have to say! Even without the pictures it looks to be a somewhat gruelling exercise!

Nice succinct review, though, and well done for doing it.
I just have one observation from Day 6 ...
... we set off as expected heading back to a now bright and sunny Gatwick, ready to face the bus arrival and the hike up the stairs.
C-W-S has advised that taking the lift[s] often proves quicker and easier. I have validated that on a few occasions, marking my progress against identifiable pax taking the stairs ... it beats the Sheeple every time!
T8191 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 5:41 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: West Sussex, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold (11/Dec/18)
Posts: 223
Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
Well, sooner you than me I have to say! Even without the pictures it looks to be a somewhat gruelling exercise!

Nice succinct review, though, and well done for doing it.
I just have one observation from Day 6 ...C-W-S has advised that taking the lift[s] often proves quicker and easier. I have validated that on a few occasions, marking my progress against identifiable pax taking the stairs ... it beats the Sheeple every time!
I leave the lifts for those who need them on those stairs, there's only 40 of them.
T8191 likes this.
mtikky is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 7:11 am
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: JER
Programs: BA Gold/OWE, several MUCCI, and assorted Pensions!
Posts: 27,913
Originally Posted by mtikky View Post
I leave the lifts for those who need them on those stairs, there's only 40 of them.
That would be us, for a variety of reasons including Need For Speed and convenience!
mtikky likes this.
T8191 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 8:33 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Oxford
Programs: BA Silver, HH Silver, IHG Plat
Posts: 138
The first time my app turned to silver was in the bar of the holiday Inn express sloterdijk, good TR and congrats!
mtikky likes this.
Temps is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 8:54 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: LHR / LAS
Programs: BA Gold CCR / GGL6 months till Lifetime Gold
Posts: 1,373
the twin otter flight must have been fun! Nice TR.
mtikky likes this.
crazyarmadillo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 10:05 am
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Argentina
Programs: BAEC/IB
Posts: 37,451
That was fun to read.....

The GLA/BRR part was especially enjoyable. I managed to hold back the tears until I saw the tattie scone.
mtikky and HKGorBust like this.
HIDDY is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 10:20 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Balham - Gateway to The South
Programs: BA Silver, Aadvantage now dormant
Posts: 1,959
Great trip report, although I would be nervous about landing straight into baggage reclaim
BRR-GLA
Congrats at reaching Silver !
mtikky likes this.
missdimeaner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 10:30 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Programs: British Airways
Posts: 150
Well done for hitting Silver!

I loved the Barra flight. Might do that myself soon!!
mtikky likes this.
ScienceTeacher is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 10:34 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Brighton UK
Programs: BAEC-Silver, AMEX-BA Prem' Plus & Standard, Accor Gold, HH-Silver, IHG,IBIS On Business
Posts: 565
If you ever hit Gold then logging out and straight back into the app seems to work ( after giving the alloted time for the system to register it of course). A pleasure reading your journey to Silver and the pics looked great. Congrats once again.
mtikky likes this.
TWCLAM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 12:23 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: England
Programs: BAEC
Posts: 899
Very pleasing report, I did enjoy my own GLA-BRR-GLA trip on G-SGTS a few years ago.
mtikky likes this.
Nimrod1965 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 24, 18, 12:48 pm
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: West Sussex, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold (11/Dec/18)
Posts: 223
Originally Posted by missdimeaner View Post
Great trip report, although I would be nervous about landing straight into baggage reclaim
BRR-GLA
Congrats at reaching Silver !
I see what you did there 😊

I was hopeful to arrive into the departure gates to hopefully reclaim a set of mislaid Bluetooth headphones in the paid lounge.
missdimeaner likes this.
mtikky is offline  
Reply With Quote

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread