Quick Trip report: LHR to AUH and MCT

Old Sep 18, 19, 2:15 am
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Quick Trip report: LHR to AUH and MCT

The essence of the trip was to use Amex Comp Voucher to visit friends in Oman. The planning began ages ago and was hampered by the 'user-UNfriendliness' of the BA "spend your Avios" page. After the hours of scratching and searching (and knowing that BA didn't fly direct to MCT at the time that we wanted to go) I hatched a Blackadder-esque 'cunning plan': Use Avios and CV to AUH, spend a night or two and then take the hop to MCT (using real money). Mrs O thought that she'd like to go to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, so that was factored in for the outbound leg. The timings of the flights were such that we were due to arrive in AUH at 2300, so devoted the following day to the Louvre and planned on flying on the MCT the daty after that. This threw up some more plans to be made: which hotel to stay in... I looked through the BA hotels offers and found what looked to be a great place, sort of close to the Louvre and with all the 'bells and whistles' -St Regis Saadiyat Island.I found it cheaper by booking through booking.com rather than BA, but still 'reasurringly expensive'! While at it, I booked a limo pick up from the airport to the hotel. This was paid for up front and didn't seem too steep, knowing that some things can be very expensive in the UAE.
With the freedom of choosing a flight time that suited us for the hop to MCT, I plumped for a sensible 1130 departure on the day after the planned Louvre visit.
The return hop was booked to allow a 4 hour connection (allowing for all kinds of delays) to meet the 0150 BA departure which was set in concrete.
The thought was then that we had to hit LHR, for the outbound, in the morning of Day 1, battling Monday rush hour traffic, from the West Country, so opted to add a Day 0 item into the itinerary - travel to LHR on the Sunday evening and stay locally. This was booked through hotels.com and was the Thistle (POD) Hotel.
The itinerary was therefore:
Day 0 overnight in Thistle Hotel
Day 1 LHR - AUH overnight in St Regis
Day 2 Louvre visit (and beach and pool)
Day 3 AUH - MCT
Days 4-12 Separate programme
Day 13 MCT-AUH
Day 14 AUH - LHR

There are plenty of comments, observations and photos.
Conscious of the length of this post, more to follow...
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Old Sep 18, 19, 2:54 am
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Looking forward to reading this!
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Old Sep 18, 19, 3:29 am
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Continuing,
Day 0 - Thistle POD Hotel (T5): This was nice and convenient, albeit a long old schlep from the POD to the hoel reception across a car park, through a gate (not easy when hauling cases) and through a maze of the 'rear' (?) of the hotel. The room was clean and comfortable - FUNCTIONAL, in a hotel that was looking rather tired.

Day 1 - T5, Flight and AUH: Getting the POD was fun and deposited us at the North end of T5 (in plenty of time!), so a casual saunter through a not-too-busy T5 to the First check-in. There seemed to be more people queueing there than in the 'normal' desks. We waited for a while (5 - 10 minutes) before dropping bags. The queue for the dedicated First security was even longer (one machine had problems just as the bow wave of passengers descended. This meant that a wait of 15 - 20 minutes was inserted into the programme. Not to worry, we were then through and into a... very busy GF lounge... but fought on through to CCR. And... On the way, Mrs O enquired about a spa treatment (We had tried to do it on line ages before, but there was no availability). We were told that there was a 'walk-in' slot over in the B Lounge. hmmm.. OK, we'll factor that in.
Breakfast was as good as ever and plenty of space / seats to sip the first LPGS of the day. Then over to B for Mrs O's massage. By her account, it wasn't very good - she should know as she is in the beauty business and has had plenty of experience in this area. Hey ho, nothing ventured and all that...
We then walked back along the walk-way to A Terminal to pick up some vital duty frees (while I tried to make contact with a Flyertalker who was on our flight). Boarding was on time and smooth. Sitting in 2A (and 2E) an on-board LPGS (or 2)... Then the captain informed us that a spanner was (literally) in the works - during pre flight maintenance, a tool was dropped into an air duct. Off-loading cargo from behind the front bulkhead, reaching the offending article and 90 minutes later, we were on our way!
Having pre-ordered my main, I was looking forward to making a choice from the menu - hmmmm sorry, but the meze is off! my fall-back request was, however delicious.
In fact the whole catering experience for this day time flight was fantastic.
Having landed late, I was concerned about our organised pick-up, but no need as it was there as booked and we got to the absolutely wonderful St Regis not too long after midnight.
more on its way...
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Old Sep 18, 19, 3:34 am
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A great view...
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Old Sep 18, 19, 3:39 am
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And on board... As we waited for the spanner to be extracted from the works. The LPGS kept coming.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 3:53 am
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Day 2 - Louvre Abu Dhabi: If you have been to the Louvre in Paris and you planned a visit to this newly opened one, you might think that you are going to be visiting an art gallery... yup, so did I! in fact, in this amazing (architecturally), imposing building there is an impressive collections of historical artefacts, tracing the growth of civilisation and religion across the World. It was well put together, if at times, slightly haphazard with Japanese 14C suit of armour next to a stain glass window from a christian church and a hand-written Qoran.
It is a museum, not an art gallery!
And actually very interesting and worth the visit, if you want to learn about the spread of civilisation and religion across the World.

Several hours were spent in this fascinating place then back to the hotel for pool etc...

The St Regis is pretty faultless - plenty of space and facilities to relax and not be crowded out. My only criticism is that the wonderful staff can sometimes be a bit over attentive - some may like this, I don't, but I accept it.

Had an amazing meal in the Thai restaurant (ditto attentive staff) and then to bed in the most (and I mean most) comfortable bed that I have ever slept in!
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Old Sep 18, 19, 4:14 am
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Part of the striking architecture of Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Old Sep 18, 19, 4:22 am
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Day 3 Flight AUH - MCT. Having booked the flight via Etihad, we happened to be on a code-share Oman Air aircraft. The AUH departure process was smooth, but no frills (it had all the glitz of an American domestic terminal! The Oman Air flight boarded early and departed way early!!! the 35 minute flight went without issue, but did include a snack and a drink.
I had pre-booked my visa, direct with the police department of Oman (£5 per person) so sailed through immigration and was met by our friend, as arranged.
next, the Oman adventures...
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Old Sep 18, 19, 6:58 am
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Were you also on the 16/9 LHR-AUH flight? In that case, you were not the only one
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Old Sep 18, 19, 8:22 am
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Originally Posted by hmv View Post
Were you also on the 16/9 LHR-AUH flight? In that case, you were not the only one
No - 19/9 LHR-AUH. Did you have a spanner in the works too?
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Old Sep 18, 19, 8:51 am
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Oman programme - stayed in Muscat, camped south of Al Hadd, watched turtles on the beach. Travelled inland to the untouched village of Misfat and stayed in athe fantastic "Old House" (highly recommended), visited Jebel Shams (WOW!) and then had a couple of days off the coast, snorkelling and watching dolphins... All memorable stuff. On the last evening, went to the Al Bustan Palace Hotel for cocktail, just to see how the other half live...
which brings us to:
Day 13: MCT - AUH. An evening flight to position us safely in AUH in time for our BA connection. =This time it was on Etihad metal and again all on time. It felt slightly more "cattle class" than the outbound on Oman Air, but easy enough. On landing, there were no queues at immigration so found ourselves with plenty of time to spare before our BA flight in the small hours. No problem as we'll be in the lounge, won't we? - errr No! because check-in doesn't open until 3 hours before the flight! Arrrggghhh I know this - Why did my internal alarm bells ring? So, a lengthly wait in the shabby departures area before eventually getting to check-in.
When we got to the First check-in roped off area, there were three lads in front of us, rather annoying acting somewhat 'oik-ish'. It seemed that one (the gobby one) was in charge and seemed to be engaging the desk staff in legthly debate and negotiations. So lengthly, in fact, that we watched three separate Club passengers check in next to us, while we waited patiently (actually, Mrs O was being patient - I was gently fuming). After the 'hilarious' exchange eventually subsided, they sauntered off and we checked in. I had seen (on OLCI) that there were only 5 other pax in F and was not looking forward to 3 of them being these three! We were given a pass to a rather mediocre lounge, but we found a quiet corner and settled down. At boarding, we were shown to our seats and walked through Club, past the aforementioned three oiks. A-ha, could the gobby one be GC and therefore using the F check-in? At least we weren't facing the next few hours listening to their banter.
We settled in to our seats. Mrs O was told that there were no ladies' pyjamas as "the crew used them on the way out" (???) so she opted for small male, oh, and no ladies amenities bags either, so one was found from Club instead! Food was as good as ever and a comfy bed on the 789 meant that I got a few restful hours of 'shut-eye', before breakfast.
On landing, we had a great (second) breakfast in CCR Arrivals and then headed off to the HEX. Back home later that afternoon!
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Old Sep 18, 19, 9:00 am
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This is going to be good...
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Old Sep 18, 19, 10:00 am
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Green turle having laid her eggs on a beach in Oman
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Old Sep 18, 19, 10:02 am
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Jebel Shams
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Old Sep 18, 19, 11:06 am
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Originally Posted by onaswan View Post
Day 3 Flight AUH - MCT. Having booked the flight via Etihad, we happened to be on a code-share Oman Air aircraft. The AUH departure process was smooth, but no frills (it had all the glitz of an American domestic terminal! The Oman Air flight boarded early and departed way early!!! the 35 minute flight went without issue, but did include a snack and a drink.
I had pre-booked my visa, direct with the police department of Oman (£5 per person) so sailed through immigration and was met by our friend, as arranged.
next, the Oman adventures...
Great report so far. I stopped off in Dubai for 72 hours en route to MCT and found that under GCC rules I didnít need to Omani visa on arrival. Just simply got a 15 day entry on arrival at MCT. Has this changed now or was it not something you were aware of?
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