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Trip Report: LHR - DUR - LHR (787-8), WT+, 28th Feb & 19th March 2019

Trip Report: LHR - DUR - LHR (787-8), WT+, 28th Feb & 19th March 2019

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Old Mar 22, 19, 6:57 am
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Trip Report: LHR - DUR - LHR (787-8), WT+, 28th Feb & 19th March 2019

Hi Guys,

My first trip report so I hope it doesn't go against any rules, but thought you'd be interested in this.

I’m English, but my wife is South African (actually Rhodesian but that’s another story), so we have travelled over to SA quite a bit, normally via JNB on both BA 747/A380 (WT+, Club & First), plus Virgin 787 (Economy, Premium & Upper).

With the arrival of a baby in August, we decided to try flying direct to Durban on the new BA41/BA40 route to save the long winded plane change in JNB (although we normally stop and visit relatives for a couple of days in the process).
We were travelling with my wife’s other (adult) son, his girlfriend and their 9 month old, but as they booked separately this report only covers our experience with our own 6 month old.

We booked the tickets back in September when BA holidays had a sale on, and due to wanting to book 2 separate rental cars for the 2 groups I called their service centre. The lady was really helpful, and offered to call me back later as I had to confirm some details with my step son. She called back on the dot 5 hrs later and made the 2 separate bookings for both parties; 2 adults, an infant and 18 days rental car.
Ours came out just over £1100 (as we decided to have a better rental car) for Economy, and the bassinet seats were pre-booked for free. 20A & B plus 21E & F.

A month or two went by and my wife started stressing about flying economy after all the premium flights we’d had previously on Avios. I called BA Holidays and they told me I could upgrade to WT+ for £540 return….. it was a no brainer, £1675 all in for the 3 of us in WT+ including the car rental. (My step son and his family stayed in Economy).

BA41 LHR – DUR

We arrived at T5 3hrs before the flight, the trolley full with 4 cases, travel cot, stroller and car seat. At T5 there is an assisted bag drop in area A, and they were not only empty but really helpful with the extra ‘baby’ luggage.
We headed through security and straight to the Aspire Lounge (using my Priority Pass) for a few drinks and a bite to eat.


G-ZBJB 787-8

Boarding commenced on time, and they boarded the families along with the Club cabin (No First cabin on this plane). We settled in with a glass of bubbly and the crew brought round the baby life float and seat belt. Shortly after take off the crew set up the bassinet and we sat Matthew inside so we could sort out his dinner. I’ve never seen so many grown men make silly faces at a baby before…. from the other side of the cabin!


Pre-takeoff bubbly

The crew came round with drinks and I asked for my normal apple juice and 2 red wines. Shortly after dinner arrived, which we had pre-booked. Roasted Guinea Fowl for me and braised beef for my wife, both with a side of caprese salad and a Chocolate orange truffle which was yummy. The main meals where ok, but maybe a little dry (the wine helped though).



WT+ menu for LHR-DUR flight

At this point things went a little down hill when I couldn’t get any sound from my headphones. The guy behind me had the same issue, and after 3 reboots of our IFEs the issue was not resolved. Being a night flight and tired I wasn’t too worried, but the crew offered me to fill out a complaint on their iPad and I got 5000 Avios for it, so pretty good outcome.



He was of course playing with an empty bottle!


We had one short stretch of turbulence where the seat belt signs came on, and we had to remove Matthew from the bassinet….. he’d only just got to sleep, which was a pain.
After this Matthew slept with his normal feed every 2.5hrs and we were woken about 2hrs before landing with a full English breakfast. It was actually pretty good, and went down well. Funnily enough, during the night

I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep so walked to the galley at the back which was full of Scotsman drinking the plane dry of whisky. I managed to nab the last Johnny Walker (all the Glenlivet had gone), and started chatting to a Yorkshireman…. Turns out we had mutual friends in the local village we were staying at (Umdloti), and drank in the same pub there…. Small world.




We saw some pretty impressive thunder storms over South Africa about an hour before landing.

The landing was pretty smooth compared to previous landings in Durban, and I can only put it down to the early morning cool air as normally we are landing with Comair (BA) or Kulula in the midday sun.After a short taxi we arrived at the gate, collected our stroller from the door and headed for passport control….. wow what a difference to the queues you get at JNB, especially if you happen to be behind a plane from the Far East which is nearly all non-South African’s.We had a great 18 days in Durban, and also did a day trip to Joburg (Lanseria airport) on Kulula to see family and visit the Lion park up there.



Meeting the White Lion cubs at the Rhino and Lion Reserve in Joburg



Waiting to board our flight back to DUR



Shortly before landing in DUR, flying over the Valley of a 1000 hills.

BA40 DUR - LHR
(I didnt get too many photos on the way back, so its just a couple of randoms)

This was the first time we have done a daytime flight from SA, and even worse it was a 07:35 departure which meant getting up at 4am!The Menzies staff who checked us in were very friendly and helpful, but we had no time for lounges, and instead headed straight for the Big Five Duty Free shop.

The flight was delayed 30mins due to the incoming flight leaving LHR late and unable to make up the time. This actually helped us as you under estimate how much more time it takes doing anything with a baby.
We were boarded before any of the other classes (something that Kulula did also), it was manic. 8 small babies plus at least 6 toddlers/small children, and some older ones, but we got on and settled pretty quick. No bubbly this time, but we were offered water or OJ.
We ended up taking off around 08:30 but the captain did say he was hopeful to make up this time.



Taking off to the north and turning left towards Joburg for our flight back to LHR

Matthew's Bassinet was set up, and we settled him in. Breakfast service was a little slow, but worth the wait. We had a full English again…. Just a shame they don’t offer beans or ketchup!



Our happy little chap

By now it was about 10:45 and I decided it was probably after midday somewhere in the world and asked for a red wine and a coke for my wife. I didn’t want to be greedy so didn’t ask for 2 wines this time!
The Crew member came back with 2 wines (one of each), 2 cokes and 2 waters. Its little things like this I have often received on BA, and I’m sure its how you speak to them that gets the results.

Being a daytime flight I was interested how they would manage the window tinting after I’d seen previous reports on here about locking the controls. There were no issues on this flight, and as we had 2 windows I fully tinted the one next to the bassinet and partially tinted the one next to me so I could still see out.

Here the issues started again, not only because out darling son didn’t want to sleep, but also because my sound only worked if I held the plug in the socket with pressure. On further investigation I found that the jack prongs were bent. I promptly got a new set of head phones from a crew member. The new head phones worked, but I found as I moved in my seat the noise cancelling would cut in and out with a loud bang in my ears each time. I tried my wife's headphones, it was the same, so I just had to sit very still…. Not easy with a wriggling 7 month old on your lap!


Matthew didnt have any issues with his headphones!

The next issue was a very stiff recline on the seat which after much pushing suddenly gave way and no doubt frighten the living daylights out of the man behind me!After a couple of films dinner was being served, and I have to say it was excellent. A grain salad starter, followed by a spicy butter chick, veg jalfrezi and rice, and a chocolate mouse. Along with my meal the same crew member brought me 2 more wines…… perfect!
One thing to mention here is that my step-son (back in economy) asked for a 2nd one as he was so hungry and they obliged.



During our decent into LHR

We landed on time (time lapse of our landing can be seen
), but couldn’t get on to the gate as an Iberia A330 was waiting for push back from our gate.
We saw it pushed back 10mins later and we quickly took its place… only to be told the footbridge operator had gone walkies and couldn’t be found!
We waited for about 30mins on the plane until eventually they found someone and we could depart the plane.

As we walked out I asked where the stroller would be. “Just outside the door” I was told. We waited, along with the other parents, now partially blocking the exit, but no strollers. Then we were told they were at the other end of the foot bridge….. nope they weren’t, a rather grump BA ground personal told us, “but they MAY go to the baggage reclaim”.
Now you can image the sighs of all these parents having to drag baby bags and in two cases, Twins, though the airport, and passport control without a buggy.
Of course this wasn’t BA’s fault, but a little compassion would have gone a long way.

Overall we found the flight both ways very good. The seats seemed better than the Virgin 787 Premium Economy we did 2 years ago, crew were absolutely excellent and the food wasn’t bad considering it sits in a cupboard partially cooked for 10+ hrs before being served.
It has made us realise we probably could do the LHR – PER direct flight on Qantas next year in Premium Economy…. Its only an extra 5hrs after all.

If you would like me to add some scenery photos from our holiday I can post them below.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:10 am
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Thank you for sharing and taking the time to write this up - seems the 788 is always better with a bulkhead seat and a small person is a useful perk to secure this
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:24 am
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Originally Posted by npturner View Post


He was of course playing with an empty bottle!
.
Good start, I got mine onto full size by age two, she now six and already onto her third liver.

george77300 and choosethedrew like this.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:28 am
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Originally Posted by Joely View Post
Good start, I got mine onto full size by age two, she now six and already onto her third liver.

Haha, excellent :-)
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:29 am
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Thanks for the report. I was actually in Durban the same time as you though we flew via JNB.

This was our third time in SA but our first in Durban and to be honest I probably wouldn’t go back. Great to have the direct flight option though
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:29 am
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Originally Posted by obduro View Post
Thank you for sharing and taking the time to write this up - seems the 788 is always better with a bulkhead seat and a small person is a useful perk to secure this
Yep sure is. I reckon economy wouldn't have been so great though with 9 abreast.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:30 am
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Originally Posted by andymcdonnell View Post
Thanks for the report. I was actually in Durban the same time as you though we flew via JNB.

This was our third time in SA but our first in Durban and to be honest I probably wouldn’t go back. Great to have the direct flight option though
Where did you stay Andy?
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:31 am
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Originally Posted by npturner View Post
Where did you stay Andy?
Onomo hotel near Ushaka Marine World. The hotel itself was lovely, I just found the city rather edgy and a little run down
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:36 am
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Originally Posted by andymcdonnell View Post


Onomo hotel near Ushaka Marine World. The hotel itself was lovely, I just found the city rather edgy and a little run down
I'm not surprised, you were brave!, We normally get through the city as quick as possible if we visit uShaka and then get out of there again. Umhlanga and the rest of the north coast it alot nicer, with safe (in comparison) towns and great nightlife for families.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:37 am
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Originally Posted by npturner View Post
I'm not surprised, you were brave!, We normally get through the city as quick as possible if we visit uShaka and then get out of there again. Umhlanga and the rest of the north coast it alot nicer, with safe (in comparison) towns and great nightlife for families.
Haha. Thin line between brave & stupid...
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:42 am
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Originally Posted by npturner View Post
We were boarded before any of the other classes (something that Kulula did also), it was manic.
As you were in South Africa, I believe that you were looking for the word "hectic".

Thanks for the report. It does make me wary about doing DUR-LHR; the timing just doesn't work well on so many different levels.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:44 am
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Originally Posted by andymcdonnell View Post


Haha. Thin line between brave & stupid...
Like you say, the hotel was nice, so you dont always know what the area is like. But if you go 20mins north or inland you get a totally different outlook;



Umhlanga lighthouse from the Oysterbox terrace


People (and car) watching from a bar at Gateway mall (Umhlanga)



Drinks in the Pot & Kettle at The Valley of 1000 Hills (in land)
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Old Mar 22, 19, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by Globaliser View Post
As you were in South Africa, I believe that you were looking for the word "hectic".

Thanks for the report. It does make me wary about doing DUR-LHR; the timing just doesn't work well on so many different levels.
Ja, you could be right there bru :-)

It would make me think about going back to DUR-JNB-LHR, but to be honest, if I didnt have a baby it would be fine.
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